Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bad Day at the Beach

In which we view the ghastly horror of some innocent bathers menaced and molested by reptile, rodent, aquatic skate, the tiny and chubby hand of God, and a Dada-esque orange (naval and organic...bien sûr!). Quite suitable for work, however!

Music credit: Lester Lanin (Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goo'Bye).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Magical Sea Turtle

On a recent visit to a friend's house I needed something to read, so I scanned her bookshelf for approachable titles. The books were all along the lines of Feeding the Self: Spiritual Healing Through Legumes, Daily Affirmations for Mastering Untenable Rage, and Feng-Shui'ing Those Grotesque Tubs of Legos.

I didn't want to read any of these titles. I thought about going down the hall to her daughter's room to borrow Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (absolutely brill!) but then I spied it: THE SECRET. I had never read The Secret, but everyone else I know has and they are all now the richest people in America and the known world. Well, I would read it.

I won't share The Secret with you, because the author worked damned hard to cook it up, and she deserves her due. Here she is. She is wise. She is your guru. She will control your life better than Carvel's Cookie Puss Ice Cream cake ever did, and Cookie Puss is pretty much omnipotent.

Could she not have controlled the stray bits of hair with proper positive thoughts?
I stole the book and spirited it right out of the house. Aw, hell, since I stole it, you may as well steal, too. The Secret is thus:

1. Don't think about spilling shrimp gumbaloo down the front of your dress, because that is the exact next thing that will happen! As soon as you think of it, you will keep spilling crap down the front of your dress for eternity because you are drawing that kind of badass energy to you!

2. People die because they want to.

3. If you think really really hard that a Barbie doll dressed in dominatrix clothing will drop out of the sky onto your table where you are having drinks with friends in the East Village, it will happen. (Note: This actually happened to me, at Three of Cups. But I didn't necessarily want it to.)

4. If you go out to your mailbox expecting a check, it will be there. If you go out expecting a knife to swing out of the mailbox on an animatronic arm and gut you, that, too, will happen.

5. Depression hurts. What hurts even worse is the fact that your negative attitude is going to bring piles of hot doody to your doorstep. Stop thinking bad thoughts! Stop it. You depressed and worthless fool. do you want to bring shit on your family as well as yourself?

I took this book to heart and decided that I want a magical sea turtle to swim up to my window, with a check in its mouth (beak?) and fly away with me to the Caribbean. I am very anxious for my sea turtle to arrive. I will call him William, or maybe David, because the idea of a sea turtle named either of those names makes me smile very slightly and makes me forget about the toothed lemmings I called forth during that bout of insomnia. Which are going to heap a heaping ass of motherfucking horror on my family, per THE SECRET.

Man, if anyone Googles "toothed lemmings" + "rhonda byrne + sea turtle" they are gonna get LUCKY. Bring it on!

Monday, January 24, 2011

More Evidence of Trouble at the Office

I went into the office today, despite all the warning signs I had received the last time I was there. I had been sent clear signals that someone was coming to terminate me, but I foolishly decided that fear would not be my master.

No sooner had I settled into my desk to do some quiet, honest work when I heard an ominous sound. I went out and investigated. I found this souped-up hotrod vehicle parked outside my door.

See how small it is? Powered by gnomes! The blue bag is filled with human heads and offal. The vehicle is on wheels for speed and quick retreats out the freight elevator, and contains a bucket with a soapy substance with which to wash the souls of the dead.
I was scared, but I crept closer. I needed to know my fate, and accept my imminent death with grace and alacrity. I saw this weird hieroglyphic:

It was clear that this depicted a Kung-Fu master destroying a pile of worms. The bottom worm is the loser, because he has been squashed flat by his brethren. But what did it mean for my future as an alive person?

Ah, but then I turned the image on its side, and the horrors became clear. The person was crawling, broken and ruined, from a phalanx of killer worms! The worm at the back was now their master, Stiff-Spine Devil Worm Overlord.
The other view was even worse! The worms, having had done with our hero, have vomited him out into a cruel and uncaring world. This was very ominous. I was downright sick with fear now.

It began to make sense. A homemade bong! They called it GOJO.
And they had weapons, cleverly disguised with misleading titles that could not hide the terror of the words: THICKENED NON-ACID. If you spray THICKENED NON-ACID at me, that is like my personal Kryptonite. Fuck! Fuck again, I shouldn't have revealed that in a public forum. Goddamnit! I am ruined!
 I heard the boom-boom-boom of little footsteps and retired into my office, where I barricaded the door with "Old One-Arm," my lousy office chair that no-one else wanted and I am still convinced that someone switched for my good and decent office chair. I will find you out, ye who gave me "Old One-Arm," and took my thoroughbred beauty for your own personal seating pleasure.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Once Accidentally Spied the Weiner of Lyle Menendez

I recently unearthed my high school yearbook, and found this photograph of my famous classmate:

My friend Claire wrote on the page: "Methinks he'll make ugly babies..."
Yes, it is Lyle Menendez, of the notorious Menendez brothers. He and sibling Erik shot their parents at point blank range while they ate strawberry shortcake in their den. They went to high school with me. For real!

You may wonder: What did I know of this villain? Sadly, not much. Lyle did not deign to speak to me more than a handful of times. I was not of his ilk. His ilk wore tennis whites all day long, in the hallways and classrooms. I tended to hang around behind the school and smoke cigarettes. I was invited to his senior year class party along with everyone else, however, and went up the driveway past the fluttering balloons tied to the mailbox and shook hands with his soon-to-be-dead parents and jumped into his swimming pool.

I was on the JV tennis team, and he on the Varsity. Therefore, we would often pass on the way to the courts. Lyle was usually stuffed with self importance, his dark eyes shining with pride and athleticism and a grandiosity that repelled me. He didn't concern me much, but one day I turned to my pal as we lurked in a bush and had a surreptitious smokie treat. "That old Lyle looks like a Class-A prick," said I.

"He is a Class-A prick," she replied, and took a deep drag.

The only story I have of him is thus. I shared an English class with him, and as we were scribbling away at a freewrite I chanced to glance up. He was wearing his tight, white tennis shorts as he always did. He let his left leg swing out, lazily, blissfully, and his weiner dangled right out of the shorts. I glanced away, horribly embarrassed. But throughout the class my eyes kept flicking over there, against my will—and the weiner kept winking in and out, like a turtle in a cave. He was totally ignorant of the thing. He just kept staring at the English teacher with a dumb, vapid expression.

I wanted to yell out at him: "Put away your weiner, man!" But he was a serious sort of dude. I would never have spoken to him in such a light manner. He had these strange, dark eyes.

That's all I really remember about him. Methinks he'll make ugly babies.

Lyle and Erik Menendez. Remember this shot? I do! Remember the Made For TV movie? I do!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Glamorous Office in SoHo

Since I have A Very Important and Extremely Glamorous and Sometimes Dangerous job that involves work that is almost strictly online, I don't necessarily need to go into the office every day. I choose to go into the office on the days when I wake up and say, with fortitude: "Today, I shall have no natural light whatsoever, and shall be alternately overheated and chilled to the bone, depending on the floor in which I wander. I shall also be subject to strange, flickering fluorescence, and the sad knowledge that my office is so far from humanity that no one will ever know if I am actually in residence."

It is sad to say that I often do not choose this option. My photographic evidence, below, will make this all perfectly clear.

Working from my home office. Bucolic marvelousness! Note that the house viewed here is not my house. (Why, how could it be if this image is taken from my window? That would be a paradoxical space-time shifty-poo kind of thing!) Nay, my house is the one that causes the neighbors to use the word "scourge" in a complete sentence.
This is the view from my new office in glamorous SoHo, New York City. I think they are trying to send me a message. That message is "MALIGNANT GNOMES ARE GOING TO BURST OUT OF THAT FREIGHT ELEVATOR AND SWARM ALL OVER YOUR SORRY ASS, AND EAT YOU! You have outlived your usefulness. You will now be eliminated."
I found this mysterious hieroglyphic left behind in my new office. I think it was left by space humanoids, or by that one guy who uses emoticons in all his emails? I have studied it carefully but have learned almost nothing, except that the "clusters" are happy. But wait...the whole things reminds me of a system for collecting stool samples! I have latched onto this business with my usual razor-sharp wrongheadedness. Sample DS15 is tainted. Do not say I did not warn you.
If I work for you and you are reading this and are Very Important, I love my job. Love! Love! And I especially like my new cozy office. I also like the fact that, when I opened the boxes that had been packed from the move while I was away on Christmas vacation, I pulled out a pair of greasy men's size XL long underwear that did not belong to me.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Night of the Lovies: A Graphic Novel

Night of the Lovies: Chapter One

My name is Little Pushkin. Having very little in the way of fortunes or relations, I set out in the world to make my way. I had been born with a withered left leg, but this did not impede my spirit and pluck. Nay, I was more determined than my able-bodied brethren to make something of myself in the wide world!

No sooner had I left the bucolic land of my birth when a hirsute stranger happened upon me on the road, and whispered of sweet temptations and evil things. His words were like honey dipped in butter, soaked in whiskey and topped with brandied cherries. He called himself Lambie. He led me to his lair.

There we met Mousie, a swollen and grotesque beast with a penchant for picking pockets...and a murderous skill at knifeplay. "Little Pushkin," said he. "Join us. You'll make a fine and merry cutpurse, as your little stature will be your asset!" He laughed, a trace maniacally.

Lo! From the rafters, like a fragrant leopard, dropped a rapscallion by the name of Schtinky Teddy. I blanched when I saw him, fair reader, for his face was gnawed and tattered, and he bore the faint stench of old saliva about his limbs. Human teeth had been upon him, and he had been roughly handled and tossed about. His eyes were devoid of human emotion.
Oh, depravity! I feared for my soul.

Lambie and Mousie slept the drugged sleep of the damned. Before I knew it, the villainous teddy had clutched me up and bore me away, to a ship docked in the harbor. "Har har, poppet!" said he. "I'll fetch a pretty price for you in the slave markets. Even with that bum leg o' yourn. "
"Don't leave me here!" I cried. Schtinky Teddy, remorseless, left me on the quay in the settling darkness, the fee he had received for me rattling in his paw. Soon, the others would come. The unknowns. I was alone. But I would fight on. Little Pushkin would not perish!
To be continued. Chapter Two here.

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

1. What are you wearing?
Today, I was successful at digging past the voluminous pile of grey granny panties and extracting a pair of nether-huggers that actually have a wisp of lace on them. And dots and spots! I was so proud that I have worn little else today, except for a drapery I dragged down, a la Scarlett O'Hara, in which to answer the doorbell.

2. What's the nature of today's hypochondria?
I have diabetes. Or maybe a thyroid condition. Either way, death comes quick like dagger.

3. What was today's workout?
I took an 8:00 am "Total Body Conditioning" class at the Mamaroneck NYSC. There, I chanced to peer down the bosom of an older woman who was doing the plank next to me. She had stuffed a number of greasy tissues down the crevasse, and occasionally plucked one out to mop her brow. I found this distasteful, as I am sure you do. I also noted that the instructor of the class did her pushups on her knees, girly-style. I did mine all manly-like just to shame her, whispering "boo-yah! boo-yah!" with each pushup.

4. How do you do what you do and stay so sweet?
The lemony fresh scent of Baby Sunshine and his fat little rubbery thighs, and his tiny square perfect teeth flashing when he says: "Dat was toooo funny!" And my five-year-old holding his Schtinky Teddy out for a kiss, which I place gingerly on the animal's gnawed and damaged fur-denuded head. And my seven-year-old, who tells me gravely: "Your novel is great. But it would be even better if you wrote seven of them, like Harry Potter, and made them all into movies. Then you would be extremely popular."

5. What's that burning smell?
That's my neighbor's kid, Thuggy "Mean Mouth" McGee, smoking a doobie while skateboarding back and forth on that half pipe, back and forth, maddeningly, endlessly, until the sands of time run out. Was he, once, his mother's own Baby Sunshine? No, I think he probably sat in the fireplace ash as a toddler and gnawed old bones.

6. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?
I once replied "a carnivorous whelk." After much perplexity of thought I have come to the conclusion that, yes, it's still a carnivorous whelk. Except this time I would like to be an amphibious and ambulatory carnivorous whelk, so that I could travel into the city on weekends and bite unwary tourists! The oceanside gets very dull for the whelk in winter.

7. What are you drinking, and why?
Cold, weak tea. I have grown to fear coffee, as it has given me the jim-jams and the williwags one too many times. But I long for it. Oh yes, its sweet poisons will woo me back, in time.

8. In what ways hast thou offended?
I gave God the stink eye this morning.

9. What's the next big thing?
Legless pants, Gummy Wolves, and a boom of baby boys named Casper Q. Twimblebottom.

10. Music selection?

The National: High Violet. Gorgeous stuff. But their lyrics are really, really weird if you listen closely.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Easy Guidelines for Stalking Almost Anything, Including Me

Dear Friends,

I have now installed a "follow me" gadget on my blog! It took me only three years to do so. Blogger suggests that I write a post announcing the new feature and asking those who can figure out the technology of the thing to please "follow me," so I am obeying Blogger as I do in almost all things, except for the things in which I obey Wrdga-Hu, the demi-god who lives in the grout in my bathroom tiles.

I am absurdly easy to follow because of my trick knee, and also because of the pantomime pony costume that I have taken to wearing on almost all outings. The combination makes for a highly visible entity, especially against a snowy backdrop. I move very slowly over the hillocks of ice, and occasionally sing a merry tune as I go, something about "pom-tiddly-pom" and apples in the springtime.

An example of a very clever and intricate pony disguise.

You can usually see me from about a mile off, if you have strong spectacles.

If you choose to follow me, I suggest that you attend to that "mouth breathing" problem that has been troubling you since grade school, and that you refrain from chewing on celery sticks or paste board while coming up close behind me. I would also advise against wearing anything made of glacine, crumpled paper, or small skulls. All these things will make me extremely alert to your presence and will give you away in an instant. I will turn, quick as an adder, and strike you down with my pantomime pony hoof. You will not see it coming.

When following me, it is highly advisable to stay within shrubberies and ravines, so that you will not be spotted. You might also disguise yourself as a small Asian woman, especially if you are a large Norwegian man. The combination will be enough to flummox me, for I am quite unobservant and have my head in the clouds most of the time.

In winter, wear white. In summer, green. In spring, dress as a giant butterfly and run about in small, lazy circles. In the fall, dress as compost and/or humus and lie flat on the ground. These are all handy tips for following not just me, but anyone whom you would care to stalk!

If you are stalking something non-sentient (e.g. meat, soup cans, beets), it is not imperative to wear the proper disguise—but it does help break the ice for the face-to-face meeting when you finally catch up to the object of your affection. Otherwise it can be terribly awkward and you may find yourself with nothing to say but "So. Here we are."

Stalking animals is not recommended. They will find it creepy and will make fun of you.

If you abide by these useful guidelines you will succeed at your stalking endeavors. I will never know that you are following me, and will remain blissfully unaware of your malodorous enmity and/or slavish devotion.

Thank you,
The Party Pony

Friday, January 14, 2011


This sign was discovered in a bathroom in a Washington, D.C. district government facility. I would like to speculate as to the character of the person who wrote, and so lovingly typed, the message.

The writer is no doubt a woman, elderly, given to wearing hose in the wrong color for the season. She crochets covers for tissue boxes. Her rage at the world is barely contained, yet palpable, which is why she writes in capital letters. But she uses a pretty font, because she is a lady.

Men who tinkle, spatter, or sprinkle on toilet seats are still, at heart, gentlemen. At least in our dear writer's world. It is easy to Sprinkle when one is adjusting one's spats or doffing one's hat in the mirror in preparation for that meeting with Sally Goodheart. Gentlemen may be forgiven. Rakes and rogues may not.

Our beloved sign writer has taken the time and care to place small "enya" ˜ symbols surrounding the words "attention gentlemen." They look a little bit like swimming sperm. Maybe this means there is a bit of the Spaniard in the lady, or that she is a bit dirty? Or else very neat and fond of design.

One wonders.

After discussing the Sprinkles (why not use the more euphemistic term, "Jimmies"?), the writer obviously loses all control of her prose. The lack of punctuation after the word "cooperation" leads us to think that the lady has taken leave of her senses and has tottered off into a coma. What, not a comma? Not a period? What, nothing, not an M-Dash?

Clearly, mentioning "Sprinkles" has rendered our dear writer unfit for much more in life. She is now swooning in her assistive chair lift, and dreaming of the days when she danced with gentlemen. Gentlemen who would never deign to Sprinkle, gentlemen who carried her up over snowbanks and danced with her on the dark ice--as if they were ice-skating, in their slippers and party shoes, laughing, drunk, thanking the world for its cooperation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

That Bushy-Faced Devil Who Shares My Bed

Since my husband now lives in the attic, emerging only to take meals and refresh his glass of low-sodium V-8, he has grown a ferocious beard. The beard is larger than his whole head and exists, presumably, to scare off any intruders when he drops on them, catlike, from the spot he occupies in the eaves.

This is not my husband. My husband is hotter. But a beard does not look good even on this reasonably attractive fellow. 
The beard is of the ilk that would cause Jeeves, Bertie Wooster's man, to discreetly place a razor at the side of the breakfast plate each morning with a poignant, meaningful "Sir" until the matter were dealt with appropriately. It has quite taken over my husband's dear face, such that I can see his glimmering, beady blue eyes winking through the coarse matting.

Some elements of the beard are asymmetrical and tufty.

I am in some ways responsible for the beard, for I am fond of a "rugged, manly look." I did not know that it would so quickly o'ertake his face! I did not know that it would grow, and grow, as if an angry marmot were ravishing his chin!

I have begun to fear that the beard has addled his normally sharp brains. For example, I often ask his advice on some of my writing projects. He usually responds with appropriate and kindly criticism. But not since The Beard hove on the scene and began, with its coiled tendrils, to tighten its grip on certain areas of the brain responsible for common sense and intelligence. Last night I asked him what he thought of something brilliant I had written, and his response was lukewarm.

"Really?" says I. "I thought it was rather clever!"

"You are wrong," says he.

"Am I?" says I. "You don't think it's prize-worthy prose?"

I heard a voice speaking out of the tufted mass of tangled hair, and it said something like: "No one will ever buy it. No one will ever read it. No one gives a shit about such topics!"

"I will no longer dedicate my book to you, then!" says I heatedly.

"Poo!" he snarked. "Don't, then!"

"I won't!" I cried. "And another thing, I am going to write rude things about you, and post them online!"

"Do your worst clangings and bangings and tippity-tappings!" he said, sounding and looking an awful lot like "Gurgi" from the Chronicles of Prydain.

His beard sharpened into steely points, and we were at an impasse. I have set traps for him, and they are baited with Bushmills whiskey and Guinness.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Was Deeply Depressed Until I Found This Magical Light

I get really depressed in the winter. The lack of light makes me freaked out and breathless, and I start forgetting things like where my feet are and how they are attached to my body. If I had to find and grab them for any reason, would I be able to? If I take my glasses off, will my eyeballs fall clean out of my head? What if I open my mouth and my teeth fall out? These weird things could happen.

I might have to go into a corner and lie down and curl up into a tiny, little ball. I really don't feel very happy at all. Maybe you should go away and stop looking at me like that. I want your approval and it is not forthcoming.

I was driving on the highway yesterday and had an awful panic attack. I saw a sign that read "Exit 19: 1 1/2 miles," except what I thought it said was "Ragnarok (aka Gotterdammerung): 1 1/2 miles." I had to put on the hazard lights and move into the breakdown lane. Weird spots of light were dancing in front of my eyes. I went into a cold sweat, and had to gnaw on the steering wheel through sheer anxiety.

At the gym I was instructed to hoist some 10-pound weights in the air. I did so listlessly, and then I imagined that the weights were really the icy-cold femurs of a deceased demigod that was going to haunt me by rising up from my bathtub. Except that I don't take baths, especially in the winter. It's far too scary, because all sorts of things might be floating beneath the surface: eyeballs, sentient sweet potatoes, snapping turtles.

What if I were walking along the street and my kneecaps fell off? It could happen. There's nothing really keeping them attached to my legs. Good God, the world is filled with terrors. I could fall into a hole inhabited by spiders.

Crickets live in my basement in the winter months and they could bite me.

The NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp.
Bunnies will leap from it and embrace you with their warm and carefree fuzziness.
Because of all the awful things that might happen, like my teeth falling out unexpectedly into my soup, I have purchased one of those lights that sad, depressed people use in the wintertime. I turned it on today and it was like I was out on a warm, sunny summer day! The NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp has changed my life in just one hour! The ions were refreshing and reminded me that life could once again be joyous and carefree. 

Now, instead of seeing drooling, headless corpses lurching toward me through a miasma of gloom and self-criticism, I see bunnies wearing jerkins in festive Lilly Pulitzer patterns, such as "Green monkeys holding champagne glasses with shrimps poking out of the top" and "Pink alligators holding cocktail shakers in their jaws while being ridden to the circus by adorable kittens." 

There are daisies raining out of the sky! Thank you, NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pink Ponies

I asked my sons to draw their versions of The Party Pony for a new mascot, and here is what they came up with.

Age 5: Chawww-Dangle! I don't really know what that means, but this pony is ready to party!

Age 7: This pony is saying "I'm...evil! I got the guts of a baby! Dude, you is Doomed."
Ed. Note: I think he meant "ate the guts of a baby."
Age 2: Just kidding. I drew this one, cause I was thirsty.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Shall Never Live With a Female Again: Part Two

Wrench not pictured.

The Prozac Jitters
I had worked at the same company with S about a year when we decided to live together. She seemed a nice enough person, with a good sense of humor.
     She had been engaged, but the fiance had inexplicably moved out one day and canceled the wedding plans. She was distraught and, paying too much rent for a Brooklyn floor-through, wanted something more economical. I sympathized with her over the disappearance of the boyfriend. 
     "How could he abandon you like that?" I asked, indignant. It seemed capricious and cruel; later, I thought it showed a discerning nature and more than a lick of sense. He had legged it, and fast. When he broke up with her, S had idly threatened to stab him with a kitchen knife. 
     When S left her old apartment, I took the opportunity to let an apartment-hunting couple of mine know about it. They visited, approved, and agreed to take it. After S arrived with bags and boxes to our new apartment, she asked if I would accompany her back to her old place to "pick up a few things,"  such as her bedding, and a few pairs of shoes. Odd that she left them out of the moving truck, I thought, but agreed to help. When we arrived, I received my first harbinger of doom. S waded right into the apartment, through piles of wrinkled clothing, bags of half-eaten potato chips, cat toys, sponges, utensils, and sacks of garbage. I stood there, appalled, as she scooped up a few pairs of shoes. A couple of them spilled out of her arms as she shuffled back toward the door.
     S, you see, was the kind of girl who always appeared impeccably dressed, ironed, and accessorized. I had never had a hint of the chaos under the veneer.
     "Things got out of control while I was packing," she confessed. Very well. I had visited her in the apartment a few months before, but remembered nothing like this. Perhaps it was just an aberration.
     She gathered up whatever she could carry and gave me the garbage bucket and a mop to tote back to the new apartment. They looked suspiciously unused.
     "I guess you're going to come back and clean up this stuff?" I ventured.
     "Not at all." she replied. "The landlord will take care of it."
     A few days later, I received a phone call from my friends who had moved in. The apartment was supposed to have been left "broom clean." They had spent a full day, along with the landlord, toting sacks of discarded possessions and rotten food to the street. The refrigerator was filled with half-eaten bags of stale Cheese Doodles. Not only that, but S had left two big cardboard boxes stuffed full of her personal diaries. My friends were kind enough to hang onto them. (About two years later, when S still had not made a move to reclaim them, my friends cracked a couple and read a couple of tiresome, whiny entries. They were then chucked unceremoniously in the trash.)
     S, however, had brought plenty to our new apartment. Three cats, with all their accessories, moved right in. The place was lousy with cats. Her former fiance, a poet, had abandoned a full library of books in his haste to escape her. About 30 boxes of them sat in our living room. And her clothes collection was astounding. It came in big black garbage bags, on clothing racks, on hangers stuffed into boxes. Everything was impossibly wrinkled and, I soon discovered, would be summarily dry cleaned--at what enormous cost I can't fathom.
     After a couple of weeks in the new apartment, S still had not made a single effort to put away any of her belongings. They filled the common rooms from floor to ceiling, spilled out into the hallways, glutted the exits. The whole place was one goddamn fire trap. Over the piles, the three cats prowled about, yowling and urinating wantonly.
     Enraged, I demanded that S raise herself off the couch and do some work. She would tote a load of clothes up to her lair, then collapse on the sofa and smoke languidly, watching me under half-lidded eyes as I strained with more of the load.  After about 3 months of steady work, all the materials were contained. Her own room was a study in chaos: great, black garbage bags of clothes were piled around her bed like a barricade, and the clothing racks sagged under the weight. S had become so enslaved by fashion that it had literally imprisoned her; she lay in there like some troglodyte harpy, cawing out demands and complaints. She was so doped up on Prozac and other unidentified substances that she never got out of bed before 11 a.m.--especially on work days. Around her bed, an alarming supply of prescription bottles lay opened and half-spilled, presumably so she could snack on them in the night. I also noticed what I thought was a crusty old vibrator lying amongst the detritus, but I won't speak of that.
     Sometime early in our relationship, we acquired a third roommate. G moved in , full of good will. During his first week, one of the wretched cats urinated on his new leather jacket, which he had been unfortunate enough to leave on his floor.
     Despite the enormous number of feline presences in the home, S cleaned their litter box sporadically, at best. The cats rebelled. Occasionally, we would find little cat doody surprises on the kitchen floor. G and I made a pact--we would not clean the things up, no matter how terrible, because it would set a bad precedent. As a result, sometimes the poo would remain on the linoleum until it encrusted into a kind of awful museum piece. When we tactlessly mentioned the "little accidents," S would mutter and growl under her breath.
     S spent most of her evenings sprawled on the couch, a cigarette in her lips, the remote in hand. I seemed destined for weak-willed, pasty roommates with no hope of social life. A nimbus of cigarette ash and food products formed on the carpet--my carpet--under her head; the stain is there still. When I returned home from a night out with friends, S would fix a lazy, lizardlike eye on me from her recumbent position. The effect was downright creepy.
     Pretty soon, we began to notice that a pervasive odor of cat urine was infecting the entire place. The cats seemed to favor a dank, brown rug that had been laid down over the stairs and in the front hall sometime in the 1960s. One afternoon, G. and I tore up the entire carpet, picking out nails with a pair of pliers, and hoisted the sodden mass outdoors. The wood floor that was revealed was in decent shape. During our labors, S returned home, and fell into a foul humor as we had not asked her "permission" before the undertaking.
     Money also became an issue. S and I had initially agreed to share the grocery shopping. This changed after I got wise to her little scheme. At the store, she always seemed to have an empty wallet. I was constantly asking her to reimburse me for food, cleaning supplies, and other household necessities. So jittery with Prozac that she could barely write, S would grudgingly pen a check after some weeks of requests.
     During this time, she was set up by a sympathetic coworker on a blind date. On only their second time out, her purse was stolen. The date, acting as a gentleman, offered her his credit card until she could get her cards replaced. During the next few weeks, S engaged in a maniacal spending frenzy. She returned home with pairs of new shoes to add to her growing pile, and wallets stuffed full of cash-advance money--none of which, I noticed sourly, went to repay me for all her past debts. After at least $1,000 of madcap spending, S went to the bank machine and discovered she had maxed out the poor fellow's card. She explained to us, without a trace of remorse, that as his mother had recently died, he had a number of expenses on the card for the funeral and the gravestone. She seemed slightly put out that her ready cash flow had dried up. By this time, the poor man was so repulsed by her that he insisted she get out of his life--and forget about the money.
     For some time, S had taken to applying her makeup and dressing in my room after I left for work in the mornings. Her room was such a disaster that such actions were impossible. Although I kept my door bolted shut to keep the infernal cats out, S would often forget and leave it open behind her. After a weekend away, I returned home and headed for my room. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong. I patted the bed, and realized that it was a sea of cat piss--soaked through right down to the mattress. G returned home to find the sheets, featherbed, and blankets cascading down the stairs, while my tortured screams echoed through the house. To add fuel to my fire, I discovered that S had eaten a large portion of my prescription allergy medication. She must die.
     S, when confronted, suggested that perhaps the cats were angry because I had abandoned them for the weekend. She also recommended that I kept my door locked. With that, she slouched out of the room, forgetting to offer to clean my bedding. I did eventually wrench a check out of her to pay for the exorbitant cost of cleaning the featherbed (no dry cleaner within a 50-mile radius would touch it), but the situation led to the final dissolution of our friendship, as it were. After accusing G and I of a cruel collusion against her and the cats, she elected to move out. I made myself scarce while she packed. Afterward, G and I cleaned every trace of her foul presence from the apartment. I noticed that the little toad had somehow managed to pack all my music notebooks and my entire box of tools--two things which she would never use in her lifetime. She claimed she didn't have them, but I think the real reason is that she never unpacked at her new apartment. I can picture her there now, surrounded by cardboard boxes and piles of faeces.
     After she was gone, we did find one more memento of S: we made an odd discovery of a collection of giant x-rays of her skull and pelvis, stuffed behind the couch. Sadly, there was no silhouette of a metal wrench to be found that might explain the mystery of her troubled nature. Somewhat terrified, we pried up the cheap wooden boards in the dining room wall and hid the x-rays there, where they will no doubt be found by some future archaeologist.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Shall Never Live With a Female Again: Part One

I found this story in my files today, embedded a very ancient document with a barely recognizable Microsoft Word icon that was last seen circa 1995. I now bring its (unedited) crumbling treasures to light in a scandalous new series entitled I Shall Never Live With a Female Again.

Part One:  Screams, Embezzlement, and Cheap Red Wine

My second roommate was a sullen, drunken girl with a face as big as a pumpkin. She insisted on wearing leather pants, at least two sizes too small, and they tugged at the crotch in an unflattering manner. I once caught her with my electric toothbrush in hand, trying to apply it in an unkind fashion to her cat's anus--out of some spite for me, and not the hapless cat. I did not like her.

Poor little innocent mite!
     We lived in Stuyvesant Town, a housing development in New York built in the 1940s by the MetLife company. Stretching from 14th Street to 20th, and east of 1st avenue, a series of dull, 20-story brick buildings extend toward the river. Carefully tended and fenced plots of grass, amid circuitous pathways, lends the whole place a parklike air. Walking on the grass is unacceptable. The best thing about Stuy Town is the cheap, decently large apartments.
     The roommate, Jessica (not her real name), had lived in this depressing joint since a skinny brat of 13. She had inherited the apartment from her mother and to her, it was home. There she had lived and swollen in the dark for many a year, nursing her own brand of poisonous hatred. When we met, she had reached a nadir of fat and bitterness.
     She seemed fine at first glance--as all the evil ones generally do. Personable, funny, even charming. I imagined we would become great friends. She asked if I liked cats. I replied that I did. We laughed a bit over this and that. This was, in sum, the extent of our interview. Feckless naivete! Rule One of roommate relations: don't move in with a female. Ever.
     I moved into the smaller of the two rooms in the apartment with new hope for the future. It was a narrow little cave, but I thought I could make something of it. The rent was $600--half of the total for the apartment, although Jessica's room was easily three times the size of mine. 
     I lacked a bed, but the former roommate had left a thin futon behind, along with a cracked wooden frame, broken during an athletic sexual session. Necessity forced me to claim it. The futon mattress was so thin that I felt every gap and grain in the wood beneath. Perhaps this nasty pallet exacerbated my ill humor.
     The first signs of trouble came quickly. It was near Christmas, and Jessica indulged in the commercial aspects of that holiday with a sickening fervor. She purchased a tree, brewed vats of mulled wine, and bedizened the apartment with Santa icons. In addition, the perky and infuriating song "Santa Baby" warbled through the apartment incessantly.
     Her tree-trimming party eased my qualms somewhat; her friends seemed pleasant enough. Jessica's boyfriend was a nice enough guy, even though he had chunks of plaster and grit in his hair from his construction job. But at the night's end, Jessica retired, with the boyfriend, to her bedroom at the end of the hall. A friend and I sat talking under the blinking Christmas lights. Without warning, we heard an unearthly caterwauling coming from Jessica's bedroom. Her screams were so vivid, punctuated with grunting, throaty gasps, that we were forced to raise our voices to match the noise. The shrieks grew louder, more forced. The din was almost unnatural. We fled the apartment, the sounds of Jessica's monstrous cries following us down the hall. Stuy Town, I learned, was not known for soundproof walls.
     Pretty soon the undernourished and perenially filthy boyfriend got wise and slipped away. Jessica responded by slugging back big shots of Vodka and passing out on the rug repeatedly. "He's a rat bastard, but I love 'im!" she wept.
     The daily routine was quite grim. Jessica lost her job not many months after I had moved in. The real reason was unclear, but she said that they had falsely accused her of dishonesty. I was suspicious. After applying for unemployment, she spent her days lounging on the sofa in a tattered terrycloth robe, spearing cold Chinese food out of the carton and swilling cheap red wine. It was not a pretty, welcoming sight. At night, she ventured out in search of booze and unwary boys. Occasionally, she would drag some hapless post-adolescent back to the apartment, and repeat the faux-orgasmic routine on into the night. The men she found were predictably runty, unshaven types.
     Things got progressively more gruesome. Jessica took up an aerobics routine in the living room, and sweated and slogged back and forth to some Jane Fonda workout. After about 15 minutes of this dreary exercise, she collapsed on the floor and lit a cigarette. When she wasn't out on the prowl, she spent the evenings hunched in front of the television set. More and more, I retired to my room to escape her drunken rantings and tearful remembrances of her unduly hairy ex-boyfriend. When Jessica wasn't pie-eyed, she was darkly, dismally hungover.
     Normally, such a depressing lifestyle would inspire pity. But Jessica was so surly and resentful that my dislike for her blossomed every day. She clearly hated everything about me. When I had friends over, she would march into the living room and turn on the television at full blast, driving us out into the night to get away from her depressing influence. She also employed musical torture, blasting Alanis Morrissette's "You Oughta Know" all night, until the thin walls shook.
     For some time, I had wondered how Jessica managed to survive, month after month, on only her unemployment checks. She had enough for the rent, I was sure, but her feeding and boozing habits had to cost something. Every month, I wrote her a rent check, which she then combined with her own and passed on to the Stuy Town administration. The reason for this was that her name was on the lease, not mine. I suspected that Stuy Town didn't look kindly on sublets and roommates, but said nothing. I was glad to have a place to live.
     One day I noticed that she'd left her rent check out on the table. The amount: $924. How strange, I thought, when my share of that was $600. Jessica's enormous room amounted to $324 per month. I decided to beard the gargoyle in her den.
     Jessica quickly fashioned a lie about overpaying the rent for the previous month, "by accident." What kind of fool overpays her rent by accident? She turned ugly when pressed.
     "It's none of your goddamn business," was her final, guttural statement.
     I didn't like this one bit, but Jessica had a gleam in her eyes that suggested she might have dark thoughts in mind. Best not to press an enraged sloth such as she. I decided to do a bit of amateur detective work, and found the apartment lease amongst her piles of foul plus-sized clothing. Indeed, the total rent for the apartment was $924--rent stabilized. The lease also clearly stated that extra tenants were forbidden. I kept the information to myself.
     After a few more unpleasant months had passed, I was leaving the apartment one morning and made a startling discovery. Jessica still lay tangled in her sheets, hungover and bloated, as she did most mornings. There, under the door, was an eviction notice. It insisted, in rather forceful terms, that Jessica report to court, as this was her third eviction notice, and eviction would come sooner rather than later. The cause of eviction? Non-payment of rent. Where, then, were my rent checks? Clearly, they had gone to feed Jessica's unwholesome appetites. And I was about to be evicted into the cold, New York winter.
     After another quick search, I located the other two eviction notices, carelessly tossed on her desk. I knew that eviction didn't happen overnight, but apparently, this situation was about to approach its unholy climax. Action must be taken, and quickly.
     I broached the matter delicately with Jessica, who flew into an unsightly rage. Again, I was informed that the matter was "none of my business."
     "I beg to differ," I suggested, but she told me I was unused to the ways of the world--a country bumpkin who had to learn a thing or two.
     "This is New York, honey," she snarled. "Get used to it."
     She then informed me that she had two other tenants ready to move in, and that I should get out as soon as possible.
     "You're going to stiff two more fools out of their money?" I asked. "How much will you charge them?"
     "It's none of your business!" she screamed again.
     I decided it was best to let the matter lie, as I had to leave for Christmas vacation in a couple of days, and I didn't want all my possessions destroyed while I was away. This girl was dangerous. I told her that we'd work it all out in some mutually pleasing way. She calmed down, and I planned my escape.
     After vacation, I arranged for my brother to arrive with a truck, and loaded up everything I owned while Jessica lay struck by another hangover. She didn't even hear me leave.
     As we loaded up the truck, one of Stuy Town's ubiquitous security vehicles pulled up, and the driver got out and asked what I was up to. I told him the whole sorry tale. "You're glad you got out," he said. "That tenant owes more than 5 grand in back rent. We've been trying to get her out forever. Eviction should happen any day now."
     After I left, I heard from several friends who had called, looking for me, that Jessica had shouted at them and told them if she ever called them again, she'd set the cops on them. "This is harassment!" she would scream, before slamming down the phone. I never learned what happened to her, but I did call several months later just to see if she was still living there. An angry male answered and told me he'd never heard of Jessica, and that he didn't want to be bothered again. The alarming reality: she's loose somewhere out there.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Podiatric Products: Surprisingly Delicious and Addictive

Just imagine that those toes are...olives!
I bought these knock-off Yoga Toes at CVS today to correct a pain in my toes. The brand FLEX-TASTIC advertises itself as "The Secret to Healthier Feet." The box also contained this mysterious and prominent warning:

Do not eat FLEX-TASTIC (TM) - Choking or health problems may result.

This was disappointing, because the first thing I thought of when viewing my new Yoga Toes knockoffs was how good they would taste draped in proscuitto. I really wanted to eat them. Both of them--the one for the left foot, and then the one for the right. See how they have five holes, one for each toe? When I saw those holes, I didn't see spots for toes--I saw spots for OLIVES. Olives stuffed with delicious pimentos!

Then I thought: Maybe this is sort of like the health warning they put on other so-called "unhealthy" items, which everyone totally ignores. Should I really bother to pay attention to it? Why, it didn't even have the stamp of the Surgeon General. I wanted to taste just one of my new FLEX-TASTIC toe-spacers. But suppose this was the one that addicted me? Suppose, just suppose I couldn't get enough of the thick, chewy, molded plastic, and had to run to CVS to buy more? At $8.99 a pack, this could lead to financial difficulties in due time. And the social stigma....

I was nervous, but I couldn't rid myself of the vision of five neatly-rolled cream-cheese stuffed ham roll-ups poking out of each hole in my new Yoga Toes! Other people must eat them all the time and never experience any of this "choking" or "health problems." What kind of health problems, anyway? Couldn't they be more specific? When I eat podiatric products, I like to know exactly what kind of risks I am running, for goodness' sake! Maybe they meant a bit of psoriasis, or increased acne.

Then I thought: They would never have put this warning on the package if these Yoga Toes were not INCREDIBLY TASTY AND ADDICTIVELY SO! That made me want to eat them even more. I stared at the box for a long time imagining them dusted with powdered sugar and fried lightly to a succulent crispness. They would make a clever miniature jello mold! A cute little garnish for a rack of lamb?

I looked at the health warning once again, and noted that it did not use a single exclamation mark. Also, it said that eating the item "may" cause health problems, not that it "will." How dangerous could the things be, anyway? CVS sells them! CVS wouldn't sell anything bad for you. CVS is all about HABA: Health and Beauty Aids! These FLEX-TASTIC brand toe-fixers were simply too tempting to deny any longer.

I ate them. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Winged Green Winkies

This New Year's Eve I was reminded of the following incident by a friend, as the man in question in the story celebrates his naissance on December 31. In his honor I tell the tale once again.

Every word of the story is true. As far as I can remember it, that is.

During sophomore year in college, my dear friend and quadmate (let's call her Luscious) was dating a young man (let's call him Johnny) with a peculiar physical quirk. Evidently, his manly member bent at an acute right angle, such that he had some difficulty inserting it into tight spaces without some desperate acrobatics. He was also a bit of a religious zealot. During one of their early groping incidents, Johnny reportedly placed his hands together in prayer, gazed up at the sky, and said aloud: "Lord, please forgive me for what I am about to do."

Poor Luscious! She was distraught. Johnny then proceeded to try to defy the laws of physics and defile dear Luscious with his strangely-shaped apparatus.

Time went on and Luscious moved on in her love life, leaving Johnny behind. She still mooned after him, but her quadmates had always found him a bit odd and even deeply unpleasant, so we told her to forget about it. He had these googly, swollen eyes, you see. And he was also a bit fat. And the begging God for forgiveness after every "touching" session was tiresome, and made Luscious gnaw her nails with anxiety that she was causing the fellow to think that he would burn in hell, which wasn't as bad as actually burning in hell but....

One day, my fellow quadmate (let's call her Shanona) and I decided that, for fun, we would decorate the walls of Luscious' room with large, winged, green penii. Except we did it sneaky-like. We decided to draw the green penii UNDER every one of Luscious' gorgeous art posters, and then replace the posters as if nothing evil had ever transpired!

Many of the creatures had googly eyes and maniacal expressions. One, in particular, was bent at an acute 90 degree right angle and had a speech bubble coming out of its mouth that read: "Allo! I am J.Z." (Johnny's initials.)

Many weeks passed and Luscious had no idea about the green fleshly evil that waited behind her posters while she slept. But she, like many of her college chums, used that Blu-Tack substance to secure her art to the wall. It can give way at any moment! And, it did.

One night Luscious got uncharacteristically tipsy, and brought home none other than Johnny Z. from a fraternity party. "Let's give this another whirl!" she thought hopefully. She had been dreaming of the fellow for quite a while, after all. They were just getting romantic in her room when the very poster that covered the winged weenie with the bent member was revealed, with a ominous "fhoop!" sound.

Johnny looked up at it and said: "Dear Lord. That's me."

He left the area with alacrity.