28 July, 2006

Persistent Pedestrian

...I've learned to fake it and/Just smile along/Down on the street/Those men are all the same...

I had planned on getting some work done in the waiting area.

Waiting area. You know, when you go to Midas, or Goodyear, or someplace of repute, there are chairs of a more or less comfortable nature, some elderly magazines in several genres, possibly half a pot of very nasty coffee, and occasionally even a television set.

This place has a scant twelve inches between my knees and the front desk, cascading piles of Christian propaganda, and the odor of incontinent badger.

I am not in a place of repute.

Upon inquiry, I am told that there's a few fast food places 'just up there a bit' with a careless arm wave. Well, I can walk. I'm lucky to be able to walk. I'm glad of the opportunity to walk. Happy, see? Despite the blazing sun and 96* thermometer reading. [goddamn it, where the fuck is the 'degree' symbol on my keyboard?] I set off, proceeding in the direction of traffic. Someone in a truck honks. I'm partial to truckers. I wave. No point in being offended. A dirty old man (grimy, elderly, perhaps I should say) in a pickup offers me a ride. I'm not sure where I'm going, so I decline. Politely. More honking. More waving, now a little perfunctory. A Latino in an SUV with schmaltzy wheels offers me a ride. To where, I wonder, and decline. Politely. With a smile that no one who doesn't know would recognize as patently fake.

The first shopping center has a pawnbroker, a clothing retailer, a nail salon, a barber shop and a noodle house, closed. The parking lot smells of vomit and bleach. Lingering here is not an option. I press on.

A couple of other offers.... honestly, can't a person WALK around here? No, thank you. No, THANK you. NO THANK YOU!

It turns out that 'just up there a bit' is a little over a mile.

But here I am. The distant grocery won't offer comfortable seating, and the Target further past that does not guarantee an onsite Starbucks. JoAnn Fabrics will be little more than a fishing expedition. There must be something. On my way, I am seduced by Shoes! Sale! signs. Either of those words is hard to resist, but in combination....well. I escape with no purchases, but some merchandise accompanies me anyway. "Miss! You dropped something." I turn to look. I'm now outside the grocery, at least a block from the Shoes! Sale! sign. On the ground, clearly just recently in my possession, is a plastic hanger holding a lacy beige low-rise thong. It's not mine. It's my style, and my size, but not mine. I didn't pay for it. Apparently, an item from one of the displays reached out and clung to my bag.

I debate. I mean, it is my size. Plus, the price tag is $1.99, so it's not a BIG thing... the debate is not ethical. It's physical. If I were right outside the shop, of course I'd pop right back in. But it's hot, and I'm tired, and I don't feel like.....I walk back. I smuggle the hitchhiking panties back to their proper spot.

Back past the grocery. To the JoAnn fabrics. Past the hair salon. I'd give a lot for a Panerra, or an Einstein Bros., or even a Denny's. I'm almost ready to admit defeat, cross six lanes of traffic and go to the seedy-looking Starting Gate tavern. But there's only one bar in the world where I'm actually comfortable all by myself, and this one ain't it, baby.

But wait, there, at the outside edge of the shopping center is a Pier One! Aaahhh. Air conditioning, the scent of incense and bamboo, and furniture. And look, in the outside corner of the Pier One is a chair that actually looks comfortable! Unnoticed by salespeople, I slink in. I spend a happy, productive two hours snuggled in a papasan chair, feet up on the matching ottoman. Before I leave, the saleswoman who discovered me mentions a drinking fountain where I can refill my water bottle. I avail myself of the scrupulously clean toilet while I'm there.

The walk back will not be so bad, I think. I'll be walking against traffic, which will deter would-be ride-givers.

I am quite, quite wrong.

I can tell the women drivers, even though I can't see their faces. They are the ones not honking. A man pulls over, but when I fail to approach his vehicle, he moves on. Excuse me? Admittedly, I'm on foot in a place where everyone else is in a car, often a sign that something has gone seriously wrong, but nothing is wrong; I'm just WALKING. With my FEET. Like the cavemen did before the horseless carriage was invented.

"Where you going, chica?"

"Need a ride, sweetheart?'

No, thank you. No, THANK you. NO THANK YOU.

I consider my apparel. Perhaps if I were wearing a ratty Metallica tee shirt and threadbare jeans, I could walk unaccosted. But I wouldn't leave the house in a ratty Metallica tee shirt and threadbare jeans. In fact, I don't own any clothing even approaching ratty or threadbare. Or baggy, as it happens. Still, despite my tank top, short skirt and kitten heels, I'm not working, people. This bag on my shoulder is holding my computer, not a case of condoms.

You know, if a grandfatherly type were to offer me a ride, I might accept. But none of you guys are old enough to be my grandfather.

In fact, each of you is exactly the right age to be my rapist.

No, thank you.

(Candy; Iggy Pop)

25 July, 2006

Her Funeral

...Oh, why/I'd pay the devil to replace her/ She's gone, she's gone/ Oh, why/ What went wrong....

Things said to me at her funeral:

"She's in a better place."

"You need to get a book instead of asking me, because I have no idea."

"If you lose fifteen pounds, you will be diagnosable."

"I still have my copy of Woman's World, the one you wrote the article for? I opened up my mailbox one day and went, hey, that's my cousin!"

"That woman needs to get some different shoes to wear with that outfit."

Things I did not say at her funeral:

Has the guest of honor arrived yet?

What do y'all want done with your bodies when you're dead? Because I personally do not want to be laid out in makeup and formaldehyde like some crackwhore science project.


You know, I had to talk myself into wearing underwear for this event.

(She's Gone; Hall and Oates)

22 July, 2006

Lightning Rod

...Sweet summer sweat/ Some dance to remember/ Some dance to forget...

I drive, skin slick with sweat and rainwater.

"There's water coming in your window. Doesn't that bother you?"

When it does, I'll roll up the window.

I enjoy a good storm- from my front porch, or other sheltered location. Or even out in it, on foot. I like to tip my face to the sky, feel droplets slide like cool fingers along my neck and shoulders and arms, trickle to tickle down my back, between my breasts. Driving in a downpour is less enjoyable. Pushing down the gut-clenching fear that something terrible will happen to my car, my precious Tanmobile, I dive into washout water, reaping grim delight in the plumes that fan out on either side.

Rain falling on the canvas top is entertaining, its plosive rhythm like that of popcorn, with a softer sound.

The sun returns presently; I am past the storm. It warms my skin, and I drive south, with the sweet flavor of someone else's smile in my mouth, sun gleaming on skin slick with sweat and rainwater.

(Hotel California; The Eagles)

18 July, 2006

Attempting Insecticide

...waiting for the thunder/ Standing in the rain/ I've been itching all over/ I don't know know know which way is which....

I sit sweltering on my front porch, pirating the neighbor's wireless, using my own flesh as bait.

I battle vicious insects, their evil black bodies jaggedly striped with white, like low-slung sportsters. In the moments between pageloads, I scan my skin, slap away the itch with a satisfied,

"Gotcha, motherfucker,"

and flick the crushed corpse to the concrete at my feet, willing the scent of mosquito carnage to warn the swarm away.

Every one I kill signifies several million that will never be born.

When I return to the house, it will be as victor, streaked with the warpaint remnants of the bodies of my tiny enemies, redolent with sweat and blood.

A citronella candle might be more effective.

But where's the joy in that?

(The Itch; KIX)

17 July, 2006

Pistons Popping

...Here she comes, full blast and top down/ Hot shoe, burnin' down the avenue/ Model citizen, zero discipline....

It is Naked Season, and I find myself torn: Dress for the weather, or the inevitible air conditioning? Plus, if I'm topless, I'd rather be strapless, so the boobtube (not the teevee) has begun to grey with overwashing. (Why can't I find them in stores? They're apparantly sold only once every three or four seasons. Next time they come round, I'll be sure to stock up. Last time they came round, I didn't own a convertible yet.) However, shopping for groceries in a boobtube and miniskirt ensemble is unthinkable.

My compromise is the overly adult, anti- Primarily Decorative, sensible policy of 'bring a sweater.'

Of course, as it's Primarily Decorative's sweater, it is designed to make other people sweat.


"If Buddah were like Jesus, he would be God," declares Fluffy.

Son, you'll have to clean up the mess if you make my head explode.


A birthday package has arrived from Minnesota. Well, actually, from Zappos, bringer of all good things. It's for Fuzzy. I confirm its arrival to my dad and step-mom.

The children are consumed with curiosity. It's fun to watch the little ones prance and wheedle!

"You are the only person I know that could get away with "prance and wheedle" and not sound ridiculous, " replies my father.


What are you looking for?

"Something to wrap the gun in. Oh, what's this?"

That's a shirt. That probably won't work.

"No, I wanted something like a handkerchief. Maybe I can swipe a napkin off one of the tables."

I've got an extra pair of panties.

"That could work."

I dig through my handbag. I can't remember why I'm carrying an extra pair of panties. I mean, really, some days, I don't have ANY. Ah, here. I hand them over.

He gives me a look that is equal parts admiration and disgust. I can almost hear the unspoken, "you call this a pair of panties?" that is all across his face. He tucks the scrap into his breast pocket, and the revolver into the back of his waistband. Intermission is over, and we're on. After firing the gun in the final moments of the show, he pulls my lace thong out of his pocket to wipe his prints off. And then, in character, hands it to me. The audience roars.

Underwear. Always good comedy.


She has been sleeping for over an hour, sprawled sweetly on the sofa, face relaxed and peaceful. Now that she's turned eight, I wonder how often I'll have the opportunity to watch my daughter sleep. The house, cool and quiet, invites a siesta. I nod off over my book once or twice, until thirst drives me to the kitchen. When I return to the living room, she is stretching herself awake. She returns my hug before opening her eyes, gives another great yawn, and announces, "I'm bored."

She cannot understand why I fall off the sofa laughing.

(Panama; Van Halen)

12 July, 2006

Long Distance

...no sugar tonight in my coffee/ no sugar tonight in my tea/ no sugar to stand beside me/ no sugar to run with me....

There are at minimum four potential conversations in any cell phone exchange.

"No, baby, there's no other address, so just send it to the PO box, that's the best...yes, a breve latte with a shot of sugar-free hazelnut, please."

I think that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say.

"What? Thanks. What? Oh, yeah...obviously, it's not for me."

I know. That's why it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say.

(No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature; The Guess Who)

09 July, 2006

Dead(beat) Dad

...daddy left home when I was three/ and he didn't leave much to ma and me/ just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.....

I suppose I'd always thought that we'd get that call from California letting us know after the fact. I hadn't counted on him reaching out at all, nor could have imagined him reaching out to do some last-minute manipulation. I couldn't have predicted The Sisters' reaction, though Hawk's response to their actions could have been foretold by any two-bit pretend fortuneteller.

The old man is dying, which we knew already. Sooner, rather than later, is the new information.

Is it possible to say goodbye when you've never really said hello?

(A Boy Named Sue; Johnny Cash)

06 July, 2006

No Barrier

...In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone too far/ pictures came and broke your heart, look I'll play my VCR...

I'm working on something good. Until that's ready.....

Germany. Not just for beer anymore.

English, but it doesn't matter.

Yet more evidence of the wonderful weirdness of the Japanese.

(Video Killed The Radio Star; Buggles)

05 July, 2006

Three-sentence Summary

...I am a satellite I'm out of control/ I am a sex machine ready to reload/ Like an atom bomb about to oh oh oh oh oh explode...

Friday Night:

"If you want to start celebrating early, Desdemona, the Animal, Tiberius and I are all helping Sparky get loaded playing Spank the Monkey on Crackbox at Al's." I can't resist an offer like that, though I do not understand Crackbox, can't imagine Spank the Monkey and it turns out Al's isn't even called Al's anyway. Coco gives me a blue crayon, which, despite three purse changes, I'm still carrying, and then we dance to classic rock covers by Mood Swing, the sort of band that should've played your prom.


As the kids and I ride Metro downtown from Greenbelt Station, I see geese on the parking lot and deer behind the fence. The gig is gratifying in many ways, one of them financial. On the ride back, I watch a man who deserves his own post, and then do the bra thing in the car while the teenager beside me tries to look nonchalant.

Sunday Night:

Wearing one sparkly garment plus shoes, I am worthy of a posh venue, but we fail to close down Edgar's because Edgar's beat us to it and preemptively closed down before we arrived. Coco looks terrific in LBD (little black dress) and lavender sandals that match her hat, which she bought on a completely separate occasion. My shoes are wonderful to observe, and feel best waving in the air.


I recover from margaritas and foolish shoes lying on the sofa with throbbing feet propped on a pillow. As Tiberius says, it's kind of lovely to reach this age and suddenly discover a special new favorite. Most people have been enjoying margaritas for years.

Tuesday Night:

It turns out that we don't have to leave our front porch to see a fireworks display. Every gangsta in my hood has visited the parking lot kiosk and gleefully lights armload after armload of explosives. If there was gunfire, no one could hear it.


Which brings us to now. As we learned in theatre class, 'now' is a moment, and in this now moment, there is currently nothing happening. But a moment from now will be a new now moment, in which infinite fabulous things are possible.

(Don't Stop Me Now; Queen)