Thursday, August 28, 2008

That Strange Guy Who Sleeps With My Mom






















When I was born, there was this weird guy in the room with my mom and the doctor. It turned out to be my dad. Not just a voyeur or a guy who got lost on his way to the bathroom as I suspected at first. Just a dad. With glasses and a 1979 haircut. (And, I learned later, a pretty sweet record collection.) He turned out to be a nice guy.

Dads are strange because they know a lot about life but not a lot about being a girl. And so it's weird when you get your period at 12 (or whenever) and find it kind of difficult to tell this person you've known since birth that your lady business just started bleeding. Most dads are probably grossed out. I'm pretty sure my dad said, "Well, congratulations!" and went back to eating his sandwich. I feel the same way when I talk to my dad on the phone about his prostate issues.

"Oh, it's enlarged. Is that bad?...Oh, it is. Well, then... I sure like pretzels. Don't you?"

Technically, it shouldn't bother me that much considering that at one time in my life my dad's colostomy bag sat at the dinner table with us and the contents of said bag were discussed in great detail. What colostomy bag, you ask? Well, let me enlighten you.

When I was in 7th grade, my dad's appendix burst. Not once, but twice. He was out working on the tractor when the intense abdominal pain he had endured for a week suddenly stopped. "Well, that feels better," my dad thought to himself. "La-de-dah, I need to work those edges now." The next day, his burst appendix started to get infected. "Something sure doesn't feel right," my dad thought to himself ten days later. My mom took him to the doctor. His appendix had sort of healed itself a bit after the first rupture and then ruptured again. "Well, that smarts," said my dad. And then the doctors operated on him. A lot.

He came home several days later. His bandages were covering a very much still open incision from right under his breastbone to right over his pelvis, and there was a big fat colostomy bag hanging from what can only be described as a whole new belly button. All I could think was, "Are those my dad's guts there?" when I watched my mom change his bandages the first time.

Of course, my dad being a trooper, he was soon feeling well enough to find humor in the entire colostomy bag situation. Because what's not to laugh about? Every time you look down, you see a bag of your own shit. At the dinner table, in the shower, at church when you're taking communion. And it makes little farting noises, like a tiny grandmother who can't control her bodily functions. "I think this orange blob might be cantaloupe," my dad would muse. And, "Is that corn?" And so my dad amused himself for the next several months by eating things and seeing what they looked like when they came out.

He was in and out of the hospital for the next year for infections that came and went. And he still talks about the day he had the bag removed and got to take his first real crap in several months. The doctor told my mom that, had he been older or in anything but the best of health, he probably would have died. That doctor seemed to forget that this was the same guy whose hand had been horribly mangled by a combine belt only the year before. Silly doctor. There is no time for dying when there are chores to do.

A few months before I moved to New York, the old scar tissue from what is probably the biggest appendix removal crime scene of all time resulted in seven hernias. SEVEN. "What's this weird bubble thing here?" asked my dad, as he poked at it during breakfast one day. And then he headed out to do his chores.

I suppose I could have told you a less gross but very amusing story about my dad, like the time he wanted to get me and my sister interested in golf, so he bought us a giant bucket of pink golf balls on Ebay.

Or I could tell you a sentimental story where my dad saved the life of one of our bucket calves with just a pocket knife and a lot of swearing.

But I feel like a gross story really suits my dad. He did, after all, spend a good part of time when he was farming putting his hand up cows' vaginas, packing bearings with grease, digging post holes, killing snakes, and hauling away dead things. You just can't just "pretty up" a guy like that. He's not a celebrity chef, or a professional wrestler, or a the guy who hoses down the elephants at the circus. He's just a guy with glasses who delivers propane now. He didn't need that appendix anyway.

Monday, August 25, 2008

BETHANY CONQUERS HER FEARS! Part 1: Bikini Waxing

















Welcome to the fun new blog segment where I CONQUER MY FEARS one fear at a time and then write about it. Because we all have fears. Some fears are really, really big, like jumping out of an airplane into a half-pike, landing on skis, skiing down the side of a mountain and over a crevasse, catapulting yourself onto a helicopter, taking the controls from a man wearing an eye patch, and landing it safely in time to diffuse the bomb. And there are little fears too. Like popping balloons, reptiles, and forgetting to Tivo something. And while I think that some fears are completely founded (vampires), others are kind of silly (diaper rash). This is why I seek to take on my own silly fears one by one. Because most of the time there's nothing to be afraid of.

First stop...bikini waxing.

Now, before we talk about the actual act of bikini waxing, let's talk about the why. Bikini waxing is a very personal choice. Why, you ask? Because someone is going to pour hot wax on your cooter and then rip it off, taking a bunch of your hair with it. That, to me, seems like a pretty bad idea. If some random stranger on the street started chasing me with a pot of steaming wax, I would run away. Wouldn't you? It's painful, and it's on a very personal area of your body. And things could go wrong in so many different ways. And yet, women do this every day without fear. They see it as just another process of grooming that we have to go through to keep ourselves tidy.

For years, I've been kind of fine with not feeling the need to be tidy. Because who cares? Anybody who gets to see my untidy little garden needs to be a good enough person to not mind. I don't just hand over the key and tell the gardener where I keep my shovel. I need to see at least a resume and a few references first.

Also, for some women, I feel like waxing is done to please a sexual partner. You know, like cleaning for your guests before they arrive for a visit. And I'm not down with that idea. Because what right does someone else have to like or dislike something about my body? Therefore, I did not come to the decision to wax lightly.

Honestly, I just got really tired of feeling awkward in my swimsuit. And having to do the casual, "Oh, my hand is just here. I'm not hiding anything" walk to the edge of the pool. I'd really much rather just know that no one is noticing that I'm hiding Sasquatch in my pants. So I decided to just put my fears aside temporarily and make the waxing appointment.

Now, going back to the garden analogy, let's be clear that I like my garden. I'm an adult, and I have no desire to revert my hairless pre-teen state. Nobody should resemble a bald oyster after the age of 12. So, when I arrived at my appointment, I was very insistent that most of the vegetation be left intact.

Nobody prepares you for the indignity of holding your own leg over your head while someone you've just met examines your pubes. But you do it anyway and keep reassuring yourself that it will all be over soon and you can skip home a new woman.

I'm not going to lie to you. The waxing part smarts. And it's awkward. And you begin to wonder if it will even be worth it. Because, really, what are you so afraid of people seeing in the first place? A little bit of hair?

I went through with it anyway. I went home. I put on my swimsuit and went to the pool without any fear of embarrassment at all. And I marked it off on my list of fears to conquer. Just another thing to tick off the list. Another fear conquered. Garden: weeded.

Everyone Needs Ugly Days

Yesterday, at 6 PM, I realized that I had spent most of the day lying around on my couch in my boxer shorts and tank top. I hadn't showered. My hair looked like this:


















And when I thought to myself, "Well, this is just pathetic. I really should get motivated and do something," I couldn't think of a single thing I actually wanted to do. And so I just stayed right where I was, half watching baseball, half watching season one of Heroes, and eating grapes to stay alive.

I'm normally the up-and-at-em type, up before 7 to get some kind of exercise in for the day. But yesterday was just not one of those days. I blame the humidity.

I feel like "Ugly Days" are necessary in order to keep us grounded as people. We have to be reminded sometimes that being a human is kind of a high maintenance experience. Because, let's face it, it is. My hair doesn't just do itself. I have to wash it, condition it, organize it, diffuse it, straighten it, comb it, tease it, and sometimes shave it all off and start over. And when it's humid outside, like it was yesterday, these steps become 600 times more difficult.

And that's just the top of my head. Let's not forget that my face also needs to be washed, moisturized, plucked, powdered, and pampered every single morning. As for the rest of my body, there is shaving...SHAVING. And moisturizing. And sun block application. And painting my toenails so that people don't see how gross my feet really are.

Apart from the things my whiny-assed body needs, let's not even get started on the necessity of keeping my clothes and apartment clean. It's a lot of work, man.

There's vacuuming, dusting, washing of dishes, scrubbing of my kitchen floor, which for some dumb reason is white wood. (Who puts a white floor in a kitchen? A sadist, that's who.) Laundry has to be hauled out, washed, dried, and carried all the way back upstairs. THEN, you have to put it all away.

In short, being alive is hard work. Therefore, I feel like it's okay to take a day off and just not do anything important. Your hair can look like this:


















And you can sit around with your feet up watching TV all day. Why? Because living is hard enough work without having to slave over a hot vacuum cleaner too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me, Indeed


















Well, it's that time of year again. The day when we celebrate that great day 29 years ago when I fell out of a vagina (hi, Mom!), was washed, swabbed, and swaddled, and then forced into the arms of strangers to be patted and photographed. We pay homage to my arrival by eating cake, which has absolutely nothing to do with squeezing your way down a birth canal. If birth were like birthdays, babies would be frosted and then lit on fire while people stood around and sang while wearing pointed hats. Which, let's face it, is just a bit weird.

Birthdays are supposed to be a time of celebration. And yet I somehow always manage to stress myself out by expecting too much, or feeling too old, or getting too drunk. I start to ponder what I'll be doing in a year and how old I'll be and how I'll feel about it. Inevitably, I end the day upset with myself for wasting the day thinking too much. So, this year, I'm taking it easy in an attempt to not worry any more than what is necessary.

Therefore, I'm sitting here today in my living room with my feet up. I watched reruns of The Golden Girls, went for a swim, got a giant iced coffee, and plan to eat cupcakes and have cocktails later with all my friends of super awesomeness. Mostly I just want to have a better birthday than I did last year. Won't you let me tell you about it? Won't you?

Last year, at 12 midnight when I looked at the clock and saw that my birthday was officially over, I was at my ex-boyfriend's apartment. The evening had started out pleasant enough. We had dinner. And then I suggested that we get a bottle of wine, hang out, and watch a movie or something. What happened instead was that my ex attempted to drink the entire bottle of wine himself, put on a Beastie Boys DVD, watched it while he ignored me, and finally passed out at about 10.

So I sat up alone watching reruns of Home Improvement with myself and wondering what the hell I was doing there to begin with. Who spends her birthday with an ex-boyfriend who makes her miserable? Apparently, I do.

And so, as Wilson was once again consoling Tim over some problem or another, I vowed that I would be happy and stress-free on my next birthday. Because birthdays are, after all, a time of celebration. Not because you fell out of a vagina at some point in history, but because you've done something since then.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No, Thank You. Go Sit On Your Own Face.















You know what's really flattering? When you're walking down the street and a total stranger offers to let you sit on his face. Because how did he know that I had just been sitting at my desk at work thinking to myself, "You know what I want right now? A nice, long face sit"? It's like when you're sick and someone brings you an ice cream cone without even asking if you want one. How refreshing. He read my mind.

It reminded me of my favorite scene from Gone With the Wind when Rhett Butler sees Scarlett O'Hara at Twelve Oaks and says that immortal line, "Miss Scarlett, won't you do me the honor of sitting on my face?" It makes me swoon every time.

I love it even more when the guy doesn't say anything at all, just makes a noise like an ejaculating bull moose.

"Muuughhnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!" as Spencer Tracy once said to Katharine Hepburn. One of the most memorable movie quotes of all time. Adam's Rib, if I'm not mistaken.

The laws of courtship are millions of years old. And I'm sure that at one time long ago, the grunts of the male tyrannosaur made a female quiver down to her freakishly tiny forelimbs. But I'm not sure that does it for me.

Admittedly, I have simple tastes. I'm fine with a dude having a brain, a torso, at least two limbs, and a mustache. But if nothing more comes out of his mouth than "Hey, baby. Come over here and sit on my face," or "Oooooh, sexy, sexy," I'm probably going to just ignore him. And I do realize that when oversized man-children engage in their street-side fuck me banter, it's really less about courtship and more about dick length comparison and reminding me that I'm just an object. But, I mean, at least be a bit clever about it, random dude. Or say please. There's a pretty wide gap between, "Hey, you! Come over here and sit on my face!" and "Excuse me, madam. But would you allow me to perform an extremely gratifying sexual act on you over there in my van. I think you'll find my skill to be top notch."

Not to mention that it's pretty presumptive of anyone to assume that I get any enjoyment out of said act. It's like me walking up to a random dude and saying, "Hey, buddy. How would you like me to dress all in leather and stick this lampshade up your butt?" like Bette Davis said to William Holden that time. I actually might start carrying a lampshade around in my purse for such occasions. (It's probably a good thing that I already dress all in leather every day for work. Ah-tcha.)

I just wish sometimes that I could be pleasantly surprised by how people act in public. That when I sit down at a baseball game in front of four guys in their early 20s, they'll have something to talk about besides who has the hairiest balls and which one of their girlfriends is a contortionist. That's not too much to ask, is it? And when I see a guy leering at me on the sidewalk, he would just once say something like, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate..." Who knows? I might even sit on his face for his efforts.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ballet Class for Fatty


















When you're young, you reach a point at which you start thinking about what you want to be when you grow up. Maybe you see dental x-rays full of cavities and decide to become a dentist. Or perhaps find a sick animal by the side of the road and dream of being a vet. These are usually half thought out pipe dreams and lead to nothing, but they are still fun to remember when you're almost 29 and sitting at your desk in your boring office job.

I wanted to be a ballet dancer in a pink leotard, with a long flat torso and legs like willow branches. It was 1984. I had just seen Flashdance.

Of course, when I had this dream at about five or so, I was short and lacking in coordination. Not to mention that we lived hundreds of miles from any sort of formal ballet training. I was far more likely to grow up to become a drunk and pregnant bull rider in a pink leotard.

My mom saw my interest in ballet as a perfect opportunity to get me involved in something and make a few friends. And, luckily, she knew someone who was getting ready to take advantage of the Flashdance craze and start giving tumbling, ballet, and tap lessons. So, I was signed up. Every Tuesday afternoon when the last bell rang, I was to walk downtown with my ballet buddy.

My mom and I went through the J.C. Penney's catalog and found a pink leotard and toe shoes. And, even though I was less enthusiastic about them, tap shoes as well. We bought tights and even ribbons for my hair. I'm sure I was the very vision of preciousness in my dance outfit.

And so dance class began. Imagine my horror, on the first day, when I learned that I was not supposed to wear underwear with my leotard. We had to go into a dark room in the back to change. No underwear? In front of the other girls? So I just subtly left my underwear on and just hoped that no one would notice.

Our teacher's name was Eileen. She was tall and thin with short blond hair. And I wanted her to like me and marvel over my skill. Unfortunately, I had no skill. I just liked to look at my pretty outfit in the mirror and walk around making lots of noise in my tap shoes. So, Eileen focused her attention on the other, more serious girls in the class and left me to my own devices. She was getting paid for my lessons either way.

I'd like to tell you that I'd found my ballet loving kindreds, and we all discovered the spirit of dance in that studio above the flower shop. But that was not meant to be. In short, I came to the realization, for the first time in my life, that I was fatter than the other girls. How did I know that? They told me.

We were all in line preparing to learn how to turn a cartwheel when one of the girls said to me, "Fat people to the back of the line." In that moment I thought, "Wait a minute. What? Fat? Who's fat? Me?"

I think at that moment I realized that I probably wasn't meant to be a dancer. And so I made the best of the rest of the dance classes by mincing around in my fancy outfit. But my heart was no longer in it. Plus, the lone boy in our class announced to everyone that I was wearing underwear with my leotard when we were exercising at the bar one day. The shame.

On the last day of class, as I waited for my dad to pick me up, I was standing outside in front of the building. Eileen had given us oatmeal raisin cookies for our last day celebration. I was going to save mine and eat it later at home. Of course, when you decide to do that, something always happens to it. I accidentally dropped it in the gutter. When my dad showed up, I was mad. I wouldn't tell him why.

Some of the other girls went back to class again the next year, although I know for a fact that none of them are dancers now. I'm sure that while they were tumbling away in their leotards, I was sitting at home watching Flashdance again. And thinking about becoming a welder.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Going for the Gold: How Hard Can It Be?


















With the next summer Olympics only four short years away, I've decided I need to start preparing. You see, I'm going to win the Olympics.

The entire Olympics.

I'm going win all the gold medals and then have them melted down into the grandest tiara of all time. Then, I plan to sit atop a throne made of silver medals (as I plan to win those too) wearing my tiara and look down upon the failed "athletes" who will be made to serve me after the closing ceremony. They will all be forced to wear weighted chains made of bronze medals (property of yours truly as well) and bring me daiquiris while I celebrate my victory and get drunk.

Don't look so shocked. How do you think the original Olympians did it? Do you really think Theagenes of Thasos stood on the podium at the end of the 480 B.C.E. Olympiad wearing a track suit and humbly congratulating the silver and bronze medalists before rushing off to his Barbara Walters interview? Or that Milo of Kroton wrestled his way to victory in six consecutive Olympiads only to get a brief cameo on SNL and a deal with Nike (or Apollo)? No! Those guys sat on a podium while large breasted Greek women fed them grapes.

I'll need to start thinking about sponsors. I figure Victoria's Secret and Trojan will sponsor my Olympic dreams, considering all the money I throw their way. Oh, did I say Victoria's Secret? I meant to say Budweiser. With my sponsors in place, on to the training!

I've got a long road ahead of me. To be honest, I don't really run much. Or at all, actually. My knees make a bad grinding noise when I go up stairs. And when I swim, I usually have to stop mid-pool and catch my breath and rinse the spit out of my snorkel. Also, the doctor tells me that I might have something called "leather lung" from breathing all the asbestos in my attic back home. But, as they say, "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Therefore, I suspect I'm the strongest athlete of all time. The rest of my skill can be acquired through other avenues.

Consider, if you will, archery. Now, what is archery, really, but firing a pointed projectile at a target some distance away? I'm pretty good at darts. And I'm even better at quoting lines from the darts playing scene in Young Frankenstein (After all, this is Transyl-VANIA!), and I've found that this distracts my opponents perfectly. My fellow archers won't know what hit them when I begin my heckling. Against the rules, you say? No problem. I'll hide it deceptively behind compliments. "Excellent shot! What are you, a wood elf?" I'm counting on my heckling skills to get me through at least diving, cycling, and volleyball.

But there are times when heckling is not possible. Like, for instance, when your head is underwater. So I plan to rely on my feminine wiles to bring me success in the underwater sports. In short, I plan to swim topless. And put the tit back in competition.

Now, I know what you're thinking. How am I going to overcome the little problem that there are men's and women's exclusive sports? Like, since I am a woman, how on earth will I compete in, much less win, the men's competitions? Didn't I mention that I would be primarily topless throughout the Olympics? No one will care. (The gay men might notice and object, but I'll just have Liza Minelli played over the loudspeaker. They will be so busy doing Cabaret, they won't even notice the competition has begun.) My trampoline victory is pretty much already in the bag. And wrestling? Forget about it.

My one slight issue might come with gymnastics since I can't even do a single pull-up and haven't since fourth grade when our substitute teacher lifted us up to the bar so we could all have at least one and feel successful. Plus, I refuse to hurl myself end over end in a situation that could possibly break my neck. Therefore, I'll just have to ensure that everyone but me gets disqualified. Two words: cock tails. You know the kind. A little Red Bull, some male hormones, a few birth control pills, some laxatives. Some used condoms planted strategically around the room like party favors. "Party in my room, everyone!" and the next day during drug testing...you know. Good-bye, Michael Phelps. Hello, Marion Jones.

Really, if I keep my topless thing, cocktail mixing, and heckling going throughout the Olympics, I won't even have to train at all. I can just show up on the first day and take up some new activities. It will be like summer camp or something.

So, watch out in 2012. My year. My Olympics. If you're nice, I might share some of my endorsement money.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adventures in Exercise Part 1: Walking at the Public Park














Back in the 70s and 80s, people turned exercise into something dreadfully ugly. There were workout videos and leotards for women. There were men in too-short shorts and their socks pulled up to their knees running around and around the park with extremely sweaty Tom Selleck mustaches. Exercise was gross.

Today, exercise is sexy. Shorts length has finally been regulated for men and women, so that you only see a low-hanging nut once in a rare while. iPods have replaced giant radios that you can strap to your head with velcro. Really dedicated people can go to the gym and hop on the treadmill so that you never have to witness their sweatiness against your will.

Unfortunately, I'm not a gym enthusiast. They exceed my budget by about an entire paycheck and twelve pints of blood. But there are places to exercise cheap or for free if you look hard enough. And they're open to the general public. Won't you let me tell you about these places? Won't you?

Every morning, at around 7, I head over to the closest park for my daily walk. Cost? Nothing. If I walk around it, the distance is about 2-1/2 miles. It's very invigorating and refreshing first thing in the morning. And I see many, many interesting people along the way.

One block before I get to the park, I run into a woman who likes to do her pre-workout stretches by grabbing the light signal pole and bending over with her butt facing oncoming traffic. Then, she crosses the street and does it again. You know, just in case all of the drivers didn't see it the first time. Wouldn't want to strain anything, now would we? I call her "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!"

I continue my walk and come upon the man I call "Tight Like a Tiger" because he is so ripped, he can no longer move his arms when he runs.

Then, I come upon "Sweaty Old Guy." Sweaty Old Guy has an extremely pained expression on his face. Always. Could it be arthritis, bunions, or tight-fitting underwear causing his pain? Hard to say. We've all seen the pained running expression. It's usually on the face of one of those people who is entirely convinced that he/she is running, but is so obviously exhausted that it's really just an enthusiastic walk.

As my walk continues, I encounter the "Overhead Clapper." As she walks, she claps her hands over her head. Maybe she is trying to keep the East River seagulls at bay. No one knows.

Then, there is "Captain Aftershave." You can smell him from 20 feet away, his Axe cologne permeating the air on wings of awful. And not only does he smell like a frat party's balls, he is also the king of hip-hop. Please envision, if you will, a white man in his early 60s, dressed in an all-white track suit and matching sweatband, shadow boxing to old-school Snoop and Dr. Dre. Now imagine him in the middle of a crowded sidewalk with joggers and bicyclists trying to navigate their way around him. Yeah.

Now that we've talked about my fellow exercise enthusiasts, let's talk about dogs. I understand that dogs have to poop. In one end, and out the other, eh, old boy? But, my god, does your dog need to do that RIGHT THERE by the sidewalk? And what are you feeding that thing, Kibbles and the Flesh of a Rotting Corpse?

Or maybe that smell is just the East River. Every morning with a fresh waft of fish market. Or is it foot jelly on dead unwiped asshole?

And so, as I wrap up my morning walk each day, I think fondly of the park and its daily visitors. Without them, I would have to join a gym and see only the boring people who work out there. You know, the properly shod and attired. People who stretch before working out. The sexy people. And not a leotard or sweaty mustache to be found. Boring. I like my exercise to invigorate me AND smell like old cheese on the belly of a sweaty old man.

Anyone for a walk? No?

Friday, August 8, 2008

How to Date: While Still Making Time for Pie



















We've all been there. On one side or the other. Either the neglected party or the neglecting. Some people feel guilt. Others don't. And it's an extremely touchy subject. Taboo even.

So, let's throw it out in the open here. (Afterwards we can all have dessert because, believe me, you're going to want some.)

Your friend is in a new relationship, and suddenly she falls off the face of the planet. Do you say something and come off as a jealous and selfish asshole? Or do you wait it out and see if she comes to her senses at some point?

Alternatively, maybe you yourself are in a new relationship and suddenly realize that you're being neglectful. Do you try to rearrange things in order to be a better friend or just assume that your friends are happy for you and therefore don't mind?

Last summer, when I was dating my ex and dealing with the subsequent fallout from that, I was a neglectful asshole. I missed entire birthday parties, avoided people, screened calls, booked my weekends solid for two months, and was a general nitwit. In my defense, I was dating a manipulator who got pissed when I tried to make plans that didn't include him. But I also didn't try very hard to tell him no. I just went along because I wanted him to be happy. When I did manage to find time for my friends, I spent a good part of the time sending and receiving text messages and talking about my relationship woes. Not to mention gloating, gloating, gloating, and basking in my own happiness when things were good.

So, there it is. I admit it. I have been a selfish asshole in the past. And yet I still manage to get annoyed when the tables are turned. But now that I've been single for a while and have some time on my hands, I've had a lot of time to think. Let's break it down into the best metaphor of all time, shall we?

Relationships you have with other people are like dessert. (Yes, technically a simile. Shut up.)

That's right. Dessert. And in order to have the best possible dessert eating experience, you need a lot of different elements working together.

Your friendships are like pie. The best piece of pie in the entire world. Maybe for you, it's apple pie (sweet, down-to-earth, familiar), or strawberry rhubarb (tart, sassy, original), or pumpkin (spicy and warm). Your friendships are defined by your tastes in other people, as you know.

And a new relationship is like whipped cream. Sometimes it's really good whipped cream, freshly whipped with bits of lemon zest. And sometimes, it's the shit from the can. (My relationship from last summer was fat-free Cool Whip that has grown blue mold.)

You can have pie without whipped cream, although it's greatly improved by it. (And let's face it, sometimes pie just isn't enough.) But whipped cream without pie is not really very satisfying. It leaves you feeling a bit empty, no matter how much of it you eat.












So what do you do in order to balance the right amount of pie with the right amount of whipped cream?

Well, you remember that while you're up to your neck in whipped goodness, your friend might be completely dessertless and wondering where the hell you went. No one needs pie all the time, but it is so nice when you get to have it, even if it's less often than what your friend is used to. And remember that talking about nothing but whipped cream makes you boring.

On the other half of the dessert cart, if you're the one feeling neglected, I always find that it's a good idea to be honest with yourself and your friend. It's okay to admit that you would like some whipped cream for yourself and that you're just a bit jealous of your friend's surplus of it. As long as you don't push your friend to choose between pie and whipped cream.

In a perfect world, we would all enjoy only cream pies, which come already slathered in just the right amount of cream. But we don't. So, we have to take desserts as they come to us; discard the pie that grows stale, know when you've had enough dairy-free whipped topping, and appreciate it when you're having a really excellent piece of pie.

Let's have some pie now, shall we?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hello, Friend


















I'm obsessed with you. No, not you, handsome male celebrity with well-defined jawline and prominent chin cleft. And not you either, starlet with perfect eyebrows and remarkable lack of body fat. Certainly not you, tight pants wearing rock star. Or you, bestselling author. No, I'm actually talking to you, person who is my friend. Hi. I'm your number one fan.

But before you think I'm a typewriter-wielding psychopath who might lock you up in a mountain cabin and cut off your feet, let me just add...

When I was about 11 years old, my mother was convinced that I would never have friends and therefore pushed me to make plans with random people.

"Ask so-and-so if she wants to go for a Coke after school," or "That so-and-so is a nice person. And smart too! If you ever wanted to hang out with her on a weekend and go to a movie, you don't have to ask my permission. Just go." Some of them were people I had never even talked to before. I could only imagine approaching someone and saying, "Hey, want to go get a Coke after school? No? How about some coleslaw? No?"

Let's face it. I wasn't the most desirable person to hang out with. My interests involved repeated reading of the same Nancy Drew books, poking mysterious things with sticks, and repeating my dad's snake killing stories. I had unicorn posters. I listened to old records and performed bedroom karaoke to Crystal Gayle. Most of the things I said started with the words, "Wanna hear something gross?"

Of course, my mom meant well with her pushing. She didn't want me to spend my entire life totally friendless. Friendless people amount to one of two things in life: serial killing and dressing their cats up like people.

I never bothered with creating social events for myself because I was entirely convinced that everyone hated me and would really rather not. Blame it on one too many forgotten birthday invites or being picked last at kickball or whatever. I thought I was a repellent loser and had an "EVERYBODY HATES ME" complex fifteen miles long. Even today, when people RSVP yes to my birthday parties, it confuses me a little bit. Like maybe they're only saying yes so they can show up and pelt me with my own cupcakes.

You see, I lived out in the middle of nowhere as a kid, literally 16 miles from the closest town or person close to my age. And I was terrified of using the phone. (Because what if I said something dumb? What if my friend's dad answered, didn't know who I was, and hung up on me?) And since I was so lonely and apparently friendless, I would have long conversations with our horse, the sky, a dog, myself, and my imaginary best friend D.J. Tanner.

That's right. D.J. Tanner. From Full House. No one in the world understood me the way that she and Lady--our 15-year-old, overweight, fat, and lazy quarter horse--did. D.J. Tanner didn't care that I talked to trees and animals. She thought it made me interesting and unique. And Lady knew when I was having a bad day. She would stand right next to the gate so that I could sit on her back and talk for as long as I wanted.

So now that I've vented all my repressed childhood friendlessness, I'll get to the point.

I eventually made some actual friends (and got over my fear of the telephone). And sometimes I talk about them obsessively. Chances are, if you have spent five minutes with me, I have spent 15 minutes telling someone else about how much fun we had.

A co-worker once interrupted me in the middle of a hilarious anecdote involving my friend T to tell me that I spend way too much time talking about T. (I suspect that he was just jealous that I would never tell a hilarious anecdote about him.) It made me think to myself, "Huh, do I talk about people too much? Is that wrong? It is abnormal? Am I a freak?" So I attempted to corral my anecdotes. But it didn't last long. And then I realized how much I hated hanging out with my asshole co-workers anyway. Lesson learned: you don't have to be friends with everybody.

I think I obsess because, deep down, I want people to know that I now have the ability to make friends. That I'm not that dork out leaning over the gate having a conversation with my best equine pal or dreaming up an 80s dance party with D.J. Tanner. In short, I just want people to like me, unicorn posters and all. Therefore, I obsess. I tell stories. I bake you cookies. I take care of your cat when you go on vacation. I email you every single day. I make myself into a royal pain in the butt so that you never forget that we're friends. And if you don't like it, that's just too bad. Because when you become friends with me, we're friends foreeeeever. I'll be on you like caramel on apples for the rest of our mutual lives. So.....

Want to get a Coke later?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How I Gave My Regards to Broadway















Did you catch my show on Broadway? Because it got rave reviews. I was walking up Broadway last night. (Yes, that Broadway with the bright lights and the a-cha-cha-chah.) And I made the mistake of walking on the subway grate. Right then, the W train arrived right below where I was walking. My skirt blew up over my head, and everyone on Broadway and 22nd Street saw my underpants. And not my fancy underpants, mind you. But my $6.99 at Target, three-in-a-pack pink granny panties.

Most women would have been mortified and tried to cover themselves in some way. But not me. I was on Broadway after all. I broke into song. You're probably thinking "Hey, Big Spender" or something grand and fitting like that. But, no, it was "Master of the House" from Les Miserables. Because, why not, after all? Why not? It was the only song I could think of in such short notice. Had I gone commando, I might have done something from Chicago, but granny panties warrant something a little bit special. Don't you think? Since "Master of the House" is technically a duet, I just gave myself a puppet hand and threw my voice a little for Monsieur Thénardier's part.

Naturally, afterward, I ended up waiting for about 20 minutes on the subway platform with the good people of New York who had just witnessed my panty flashing extravaganza. I'm sure that every single one of them used that time to formulate how exactly to entertain their friends with their "Hey, guess what I just saw?" story when they got to where they were going. Some of them may have started it off like, "Oh my god, you guys!" Someone more creative might have said, "So I was just minding my own business when..." and then twist the story around, turning the sudden appearance of panties into the anecdotal equivalent of a stripper popping out of a gigantic cake. Then, of course, there would be those people who would have nothing polite to say about my thighs or lack of a bikini waxing or whatever. You know the type, groundlings with no taste in good theater. Always with the criticism.

Of course, when things like this happen, we all like to pretend it was a total Marilyn Monroe moment. Like you stepped on the subway grate and everyone walking by was just lucky to witness it. Maybe you skip on like nothing happened at all, nonchalantly popping a Mentos and smiling like you just finished the swimsuit part of the competition. The hot wind of the subway was simply the hand of God raising up your dress to show the world that you are, indeed, a woman. Not just any woman, but a woman with slightly hairy legs and thrifty taste in underpants! And not to mention a devil-may-care attitude toward unfortunate circumstances. Was the smiling Derek Jeter cologne advertisement simply my Joe DiMaggio, looking on in amusement? We can all pretend so.

And so, in my own small way, I took Broadway by storm. I gave them the old razzle-dazzle. And just twenty blocks shy of 42nd Street. Next time, I'll be doing it on skates. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance.

Now, I take my bow.

Bravo, then. Bravo. Encore. And all that jazz. Ah-cha.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Am So Busy, I Don't Even Have Time to Blog About It
















Leave me alone! Can't you see I'm busy?

See that sink full of dishes? I have no time to wash them, dry them, and put them away. And that rug that looks like my cat exploded all over it? Absolutely not a second in the day to vacuum. Is that a moldy head of cauliflower I spy in the refrigerator? You would think that I would throw it away! But I cannot! For I...am busy.

I know what you're thinking. How can I be so busy when I am sitting here writing to you to tell you how very busy I am? Well, smarty pants, don't I deserve a break now and again? Or shall I just keep slaving away while you sit there, thinking of mean questions to ask me? And what about you? You don't look too busy over there reading this instead of doing something useful. Pick up a broom, why don't you? Me? I can't. I'm typing this and berating you for being a lazy jerk.

Don't you know that "idle hands are the devil's playground?" Don't look now, but the devil is on your swingset. Now he's playing on your monkey bars. And wait! Now he's on your see-saw. If you just keep sitting there, he'll be in your sandbox trying to dig his way to China.

Don't just sit there with that baffled expression on your face! Can't you see that the litter box needs dumping? And that someone needs to sponge down the microwave? And that I need a cocktail? A margarita? With freshly-squeezed lime juice and a few strawberries for garnish? In the blue glass. No! Not that one! The blue glass, you bonehead!

While you're at it, do you think you could run the vacuum over there in the corner? And do up those dishes? And throw away that cauliflower? And apply talcum to my underarms? Don't just sit there! It's hot in here, and I need fanning.

Ah, that settles it. I'll be having my afternoon nap now. Wake me in a few hours.