Working Title

Jobs as a teenager are among the most difficult life lessons we ever learn.  Here we are, as young adults who are used to being handed everything; suddenly thrust behind a cash register and expected to not be utterly self absorbed about it.  It really is an awful rite of passage.  Those of us that make it through take the lessons from those first jobs to our second, third, and so on.  Those of us that don’t just make jokes about it. 

My first job was working at Carlton Cards at the Florida Mall.  It was a greeting card store whose only claim was that we were the biggest competitor to Hallmark…in the mall.  Not the company.  We would sell greeting cards, knick-knacks and those books you find on your grandparents coffee table.  I was placed on the closing crew and tasked with operating a cash register older than I was and making sure the customers did not murder one another. 

This is not an over exaggeration.

I never realized until working at a greeting card store just how awful another human being can be while at the same time, trying to be thoughtful by getting someone a ‘Get Well Soon’ card.  For example, I had to work Easter and while I was ringing customers up as quickly as I could, I kept hearing a shrill voice screaming at me.  At first, I thought she was a banshee; letting me know that my time upon this Earth was soon to end, but it turned out that it was an aged woman who really wanted me to hurry so she could get her Precious Moments figurine. 

I smiled and waved.  In teenage circles, this is how we acknowledge one anothers presence.  I figured that this is how it worked in her…I don’t know, bridge club?  But anyways, she took offense to either the smile or the wave or just decided she wanted to try and absorb my life force.  I hear one more brittle battle cry and glance over just long enough to see a porcelain duck shatter against the side of my head.  I have no idea what happened to the woman but I like to believe she still prowls the hidden corridors of that mall, occasionally venturing out to the food court when she hungers.

 

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My First Date. Part 2 of 2: The Battle of Non-sex, Sex Brain and Apu the Monkey Girl.

So here we are, finally! Me and my Juliet, alone at last! We smile, shyly and I clear my throat, start the car as we head to the classiest restaurant I could afford on my Target paycheck: Dennys.
It’s at this point that I start to realize in the part of my brain that isn’t blinded by a pretty smile and a nice body that perhaps this girl isn’t quite my type.
I promptly ignore it when she laughs at one of my jokes.
She and I trade stupid grins at one another.
Then I hear an odd noise.
Something that sounds like a kind of…shuffling. A rubbing of flesh of fabric.
I shrug it off as just another thing wrong with my piece of shit car. You know, because I’m an idiot.
We pull into the Denny’s. I get out first, race to her side and open the passenger side door for her. Because everything I learned about dating and how to treat the opposite sex was from pop culture.
She gracefully slides out of the car, very kindly not kicking out any of the garbage that had accumulated in front of the passenger seat.
I slip my arm in hers and we walk; hand in hand to the Denny’s entrance.
That’s when I hear that sound again, except this time it’s different. More like how you would imagine a tiny helicopter blade would sound.
I ask her if she hears anything, she smiles innocently; tells me no and leans down a bit (because of course, she’s taller than me) to kiss me briefly on the cheek.
I completely forgot what I was talking about and grin an idiots grin.
Door held open, check.
Mentally, I remind myself not to check out her ass. That wouldn’t be a gentlemanly thing to do, Gerrimy! My eyes drift everywhere else as I slide in behind her.
While at Denny’s we make more small talk. The kind that people who don’t know anything about eachother make when they want to know more about one another, but are not sure how to do it because they’re both idiots.
Occasionally, I’ll make some dumb ass joke and she peals out a laugh. It is at moments like that when I could swear someone is flipping pancakes or something directly behind her. Shrugging it off again, we finish our meal and I suggest we go back to my place.
Someone is very aggressively tossing pancakes.
“That sounds like fun,” she says “but I told my parents I would come home.” her eyes light up, “I know! How about you stay the night? My parents would be fine with it, they’re super laid-back!”
“Oh really? I couldn’t tell!” I reply with deadpan humor.
WHO THE FUCK IS FLIPPING THOSE DAMN PANCAKES?!
So it’s decided. I’ll go home, grab a change of clothes and a night bag; meet back up at her place and stay the night.
I show up at around 11pm and she answers wearing a nightgown. She tells me her parents, Bubbles and Slammer are asleep already in their hospital beds (apparently, they have to sleep in individual hospital beds because due to their bulk, if they were to sleep in a regular bed they would die. Like horses or cattle. After this, I just assume that all carnies sleep this way.) and won’t be up until morning.
She takes me to the guest bedroom, it’s a very well adorned room. Lace doilies, bookshelves and the moonlight glints softly off the heads of…
shelf
after
shelf
after
shelf
of
Victorian era
porcelain dolls.
She tells me that these were all Bubbles when she was growing up (of fucking course they were).
Any sense of excitement I had evaporates as I look into the dead eyes of doll after doll.
She kisses me on the mouth, oh well nevermind then.
A soft patter emanates directly behind her.
My non-sex driven brain finally decides enough is enough and demands I ask about this damn noise.
“OK, do you know anything about this? I keep hearing something, but I’m not sure what it is.” I proceed to describe it to her and then, in the presence of me, God and hundreds of figurines she turns around and lifts up the back of her dress.
A three-inch tail. Sprouting from the base of her spine sadly sways in the same moonlight.
I blink and cock my head to the side, lean in closer and poke it.
It wiggles slightly and I giggle like an excited five year old with a new toy.
She hears this and the tail starts wagging rapidly, like a windshield wiper on high. “So you’re OK with it? It doesn’t freak you out? I was so worried!”
My non-sex brain is screaming, but completely overloaded with the sheer amount of strange that this date has buried it under; promptly throws up its hands and gives up.
“Of course I’m cool with it!” says sex-brain.
After these words leave my mouth non-sex lets out one last scream and dies.
She jumps on me, shoving me backfirst onto the bed; misjudging her distance, she accidentally slams my head onto the nearest shelf of dolls.
10 porcelain dolls fall from the shelf and shatter themselves on my head.
I lose consciousness and dream I’m being chased by a million puppies with dead eyes, all wearing cocktail dresses.
About 15 minutes later, I open my eyes to her with a panicked stare pulling me up, telling me I have to leave, that her parents will hate me forever for breaking her dolls.
She has already handed me my bag and is bustling me into the doorway, when this happens:
My brain, still recieving blood and oxygen again doesn’t have a chance to stop my mouth from saying the following words. Words that ensure neither she, her parents, or her friends at work ever speak to me again.
“So you don’t want a bananna?”

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My First Date. Part 1 of 2: Bubbles and Slammer

Red flags, for those of you unfamiliar with the term; are those subtle and not so subtle hints that the person you’re talking to may be a) insane or b) preparing to murder you.
Of course, we still ignore these flags more often than not in the interest of lovemaking; because at our cores we’re all still just entering puberty.
It is my choosing to ignore every possible warning that was hurled in my face that ultimately resulted in me dating a girl whose parents were active members of a carnival, among other things.
One of my first jobs was at Target, like most post high school adults. It was here that I developed many of the social skills that would become so important (that I ignore) in my day to day interactions. As well as just basic rules of thumb to go by; like, ‘don’t fucking date coworkers’.
As with all things, I learned this one the hard way.
At first, this seemed in my pre-adult mind (READ: IDIOT) like love at first sight, it fit all the criteria: two star crossed lovers, separated by distance (she worked in womens fashion, I ‘worked’ in grocery), parts of two differing and clashing social groups (her friends were all long-term Target employees, my friends were all under the influence of…everything. Daily.). It seemed like a match that even the Gods couldn’t tear asunder.
So, as with all things; I approached her with all the bravery and bravado of a fat man inching along thin ice at the beginning of spring when I asked her on a date. Apparently, she had also been eyeing me as I worked my shift, hiding groceries behind other groceries and thought I was at least acceptably attractive. She said yes. I grinned like an idiot, hugged her and skipped gaily on my way.
The rest of the work week went by in a blur, iron butterflies would slam-dance their way around in my stomach with anxiousness for the coming weekend and our date with the Juliet of the Womens Department.
I told only one close friend of mine about this upcoming tryst and his response? He smiled, shook his head, put one hand on my shoulder and told me that I was in for a huge shock. That this would not be a very good idea. Apparently, these two used to be an item a while ago.
But I just shrugged off his words as sour grapes. What else could they be? Of course, he was jealous!
The night of our date finally arrived and I drove to her home in the suburbs where she lived with her parents. I knocked and as I dusted off my shirt a clown answered the door. I promptly screamed in terror.
The clown extended its gloved hand and smiled a toothy grin. “You must be Gerrimy. HI! I’m Bubbles the clown!” She released a spine tingling giggle, normally reserved for the victims she kept in the basement no doubt.
It was too late. If I wanted to date this girl, I needed to at least get into the house. I made a silent prayer as I crossed the Rubicon with Bubbles bouncing along behind me, spewing insanity with every step she made.
The interior of the home looked like an NRA members wet dream: guns on every wall, where there weren’t guns, there were pictures of guns, all of these centered around a wall art tableau of Jesus Christ in a camo hat. It looked like what would have happened if The Last Supper were painted by Larry the Cable Guy.
It was at this exact moment that a booming voice appeared behind me. “Ah see yah like mah paintin, huh?”
I realize that I am going to die here.
My body turns face to sweaty, hairy chest with what was quite possibly, a shaved Sasquatch. He looses a deep, bowel loosening laugh and hugs me; forcing my face deeping into his hirsute bosom. “Ah’m (NAME WITHHELD)’s da, yuh must be tha lucky guy huh?” He informs me that my date is still freshening up and invites me to make myself comfortable. That he and his wife, Bubbles would love to get to know me.
As they talk I learn several things:
1. The father is not wearing pants any clothes, save a pair of tattered white underwear.
2. He and his wife, Bubbles are active members of a traveling carnival. He is the Strongman and goes by Slammer.
3. Bubbles and Slammer have a combined weight of 1,000,000 pounds, as such all the furniture in the home is made of iron and soldered so as to not buckle into dust when they sit on it.
4. Bubbles and Slammer are nudists.
5. I am going to die.
6. I am going to die.
7. I am going to die.
I decide to ask if (NAME WITHHELD) is also in the carnival. They tell me that that’s a surprise, that she will show me in private if she so chooses.
As if on cue, she descends the steps. Like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. If that movie was mixed with the Devil’s Rejects. Bubbles coos happily, gushing over her beautiful daughter; Slammer nods approvingly although does voice disapproval that any of us are wearing clothes.
I desperately want to leave.
The parents decide to release us into the wild on our date at this point.

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Worth it.

My first real job after getting out of high school was working with a group that worked with kids after school and during the summers. I went through much of my formative years with them and felt like I really wanted to give back, so when a job opening became available; I jumped at it.
Working with the kids there was a wonderful experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I made a very positive difference in the lives of many children and learned some very important lessons.

One of which being that people tend to look down on fraud involving children.

Let me explain.

The last year I was employed with the company we had a summer field trip to Animal Kingdom in Disney world. By this point, due to my attitude and willingness to actually talk to the kids on their level many of them wanted to have me as their staff leader. So I ended up going into a very large theme park with about…25 or so kids in my care. I was game for it and planned ahead. When we arrived, I asked each of the kids what rides or attractions they wanted to see because for many of them; this was the first and only time they would ever be able to come to a place like this. After all the kids had their say, I pulled out a map of the park and marked each location where the children said they wanted to go.

I was lucky enough that I had three of the more responsible teens with us and asked them to take the one or two outliers (kids that were the only ones interested in a certain ride) with them and then told them exactly where to meet up, in addition to giving them the cell phone number of another staff in case they needed to get ahold of someone.

And so, off we went. The park was great, the kids all enjoyed themselves and everyone got to see everything they wanted to. Except for one person. I had budgeted our time perfectly, but the weather decided it wanted to be Florida so I got a notice that we needed to start getting ready to leave. The raindrops mixed perfectly with the little boys tears and my heart-strings tugged. There was no way we were going to head back to that bus without everyone enjoying themselves.

I looked at the kids in my group and tried to think what I could do to circumvent the 30 minute line that loomed before us. I pointed at one of the smaller boys and told him to come with me.

I buttoned up my shirt to cover up the logo for the organization I worked for and instructed him to do the same while at the same time, passing him my hat and instructing him to put it on as we walked up to the line attendant.

“Hi my name is Gerrimy and this is (name withheld), I’m with the (NAME WITHHELD) and my group here all really wanted to get on this ride today, but we’re about to leave. Is there anyway you can help?”

The woman at first looked skeptical until she looked at my friend, who to his credit totally hammed it up as soon as he realized what I was doing. He looked up at her with soulful, sad eyes with just the hint of a tear, brought his hand gingerly to his mouth and while never breaking eye contact; coughed lightly into his hand.

This lady never stood a chance. “Let me see what I can do.” she said through choking sobs as she scurried off. The supervisor apologized profusely, repeatedly telling us if he knew we were coming they would have been able to do more and how odd it was that the Foundation didn’t notify them. I reassured him, telling him it was probably just a mix up in paperwork, not to worry about it, no need to involve anyone else.

The kids loved it. They got to ride the deluxe safari edition which is usually reserved for those with ample money. They got to touch a rhino, pet a giraffe and everything! It was amazing and by the time we got back on the bus, we were right on time and overloaded with freebies that the supervisor and line attendant insisted we take. The other staff and kids eyed me suspiciously. Thie children out of jealousy, the staff because they know how much I was willing to do to make sure my kids enjoyed themselves.

About two days later I was (as expected) called into my boss’ office and the following conversation took place, which I am positive she never thought for many reasons, she would ever have to be involved in:

“Gerrimy, I have been hearing a very upsetting rumor about you. Did you actually convince an entire park that you were with the (NAME WITHHELD) just to make sure your kids all got to ride everything they wanted?”

“Yeah.”

“That is without a doubt, the nicest thing I’ve ever heard someone do. It goes without saying you’re fired though.”

“Yeah. But it was totally worth it.”

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Sock puppets are not known as romantics.

After I finished high school, I started at a local community college and compared to how I am now, very reserved. This was for good reason, I didn’t know anyone and just wanted to get the whole thing over with. This didn’t sit well with my friend Zach who thought that as a teenager; I should be out partying and doing asinine things. So one night, he calls me up (I only had a home phone, because I really hate cell phones) and invites me to a party being held at a friend of a friend of a friend (this is apparently the norm for these kinds of parties). Considering I had already exhausted my evenings plans of sitting in my boxers and eating a TV dinner, I accepted.

This was a mistake.

Zach promised me as we drove to the house that he would hang out with me so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed or anything and he guaranteed he would introduce me to some of his friends, that he was sure I would get on with famously. My hopes started to rise up like a kite made out of discarded beer cans and early-stage alcoholism. This was going to be fun! I’m going to just relax, unwind and enjoy myself.

As soon as we enter the house, Zach makes a beeline for the kitchen where the keg is and strands me in the living room. My first thought after the panic died down, was that the conversations going on must not be that important since you can’t hear anything over the music. I went to the kitchen, helped myself to a drink and found a spot on a couch that didn’t have vomit, beer, or godknowswhatthehellthatis on it and started drinking, staring straight ahead at a TV that was off.

After about an hour of this, I got up and tried to engage my fellow party-goers (partiers?) in some light conversation. Unfortunately, my understanding of Pokemon and Smash Bros. did not translate well. Mom was right, shit.

“You look like you’re having fun.” I turn around and see an absolute vision in front of me. She was one of those women who seemed pulled from every fantasy ever. I smiled and immediately ran back to the safety of the clean part of the couch.

She sat down next to me, every person at the partys gaze followed her. Conversations died in her wake, friends nudged eachother, pointed at her, at me, and then walked away.

Clearly jealous.

We hit it off, turns out she liked a lot of the same things I do. As the night progesses, I start to loosen up and the conversation takes a more…intimate tone. Eventually, she leans in and asks me if I would like to go upstairs to see her room. I page through all the Bond and suave responses from my pop culture collection and smoothly say, “YES PLEASE.”.

She takes me by the hand and leads me upstairs. Zach at this point, staggers out of the kitchen, sees me and her, laughs and gives me a thumbs up. I return the thumbs up and give the hero nod.

Her room is all blacked out curtains and smooth jazz. I think to myself that she must really like romantic one-night stands. She asks me to have a seat while she slips into something more comfortable. She opens the doors to her walk-in closet, closing them behind her. I adopt my most sensual pose, it looks like a sloth reaching for a high branch while scratching its stomach. Nailed it.

Things start to go awry as I hear two distinct voices coming from the closet. Seemingly in agreement, then argument only to go back to agreement again. I wonder if she has a friend that lives in her closet.

The doors slide open and I take in the full view of her from the feet up. Garter belt attached to those weird clippy things that make no sense whatsoever attached to a black neglige. Her right arm is resting against the closet, my eyes track up to what looks like a barrier of elastic.

Followed by cotton, yellow yarn, a pair of googly eyes and lipstick. She smiled seductively at me and in a deep voice, her socks mouth opened, “I’m Eunice.”

Oh God.

I slowly move towards the pile of my clothes, careful to not startle her. Similar to how prey moves around a predator. Or how normal people move around those that are trying to be sensual while wearing athletic gear on their arms.

Eunice’s glazed eyes watch me like a snake when the girl asks me, “Whats wrong?” I smile, terrified. I assure her it’s nothing, but I’ve got a test tomorrow and really need to get back home. My shorts are on, my hand is on the door, I’m almost free as I step across the barrier.

She dive tackles me into the hallway.

I scream my manliest scream and Zach looks up at us. He gives me another drunken thumbs up. My rapid hand movements and terror pee assure him this is not a thumbs up situation. He drops his beer, bounding up the steps as she drags me, nails scraping on carpet back into the room.

The door locks.

She flips me onto my back and it is at this moment that Zach kicks the door in. Girl with sock puppet, me in boxers crying, soft jazz, candles.

It’s an odd sight.

I use the distraction to my advantage. I punch Eunice in the face, POW, she goes flying. One googly eye lands on the nightstand. Zach picks me and my clothes up as he runs us out of the house.

The partiers downstairs are treated to the sight of a guy, one hand beer, another hand clothes, half naked guy slung over shoulder crying and pointing upstairs to a bewildered woman with a one-eyed sock puppet, “You are not a very nice lady!”

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Superheroes have a very awkward childhood.

I need to preface this by saying I honestly believed I had superpowers until I was…oh…
Fuck it.
16.
This kind of attitude, paired with parents that were very much of the ‘follow your dreams’, encouraging school; made for a recipe for embarrassing moments. I remember one such experience still very vividly. I think I was about 7 at the time and had just finished school for the day so I had slung my Teenage Ninja Turtles backpack on (using only one strap, because I was a rebel and cared nothing for future back problems) and began the trek home.
As I was walking, one of my classmates shoved past me and knocked me into a ditch in his hurry to chase after an older woman in a very quaint floral dress. I sat there stunned, for a moment and then took a deep breath, closed my eyes. Thought to myself, “What would Wolverine do right now?”
So I cried. Because I landed on the ground pretty rough.
But after that I jumped up and started running after him. The scenery blurred past me, I knew I had to hurry; for if this miscreant would so callously throw me aside, God only knows what he would do to that poor woman! As I sped up the chase an entire story materialized in my head and I just let it take me away….
Tomgor, that devil! Once again, he throws down the gauntlet of injustice at my elementary school! I, Super-Gerrimy will show him the error of his ways in the only way he can understand! With the same powers that his unscrupulous science cursed me with!
I could see him in the distance, he had slowed down and was now keeping pace behind the woman.
Oh no, she has no idea he’s behind her! I must save this innocent! I now understand. The only way I can disrupt this nefarious scheme is to get her attention, distract him and then in the confusion; I’ll stage my attack!
I stop. Put my hands on my hips and stand akimbo, the same superhero pose I practiced in the bathroom mirror so many times.
Arch an eyebrow, give my best hero laugh and say, “TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THAT WOMAN YOU SON OF A BITCH!
Tomgor whips his body around, perplexed as I gesture wildly for the woman to run now, while it’s safe! I don’t believe I can win permanently, but what I do know is that she’ll be safe.
I lower my head, doing my best impression of the bulls that fight in Pomplona and charge him.
WHOOF
Tomgors breath escapes him violently as my legs fly out from under me. I wrap my arms around him and we tumble into the grass, fists flying.
“Stopyoufuckingpsycho!”
Good, that woman realizes now the danger she was in.
“Get your hands off of him!”
What a fine lady! Even just moments after her life was in mortal peril all she can think of is my safety!
I feel a pressure on the back of my neck and I go flying backwards. I land, staring up at the very woman I just saved as she pulls the boy up and dusts him off.
Later that night, after the mom of the boy and my parents had a long discussion with a lot of words I was told I was to NEVER say; they decided it may be best if I not read any comics for a while.
In retrospect, I think I may have gone a little overboard. That woman certainly didn’t appreciate me attacking her son no more than she did when I implied that she was a bitch.
Me and that boy would wind up being pretty good friends further down the line and that is the story he would tell people when we were together at parties. We would take turns saying who was who when retelling it, just to keep it fresh.
That and both of us wanted to be the hero.

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Trailer Farm

My parents always wanted a farm.  They both grew up with large families in old, two-story houses in those kinds of neighborhoods you only see on TV in the early afternoon or early morning.  But they cherished that kind of childhood and really wanted it for us.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way and by the time we finally had a real home it happened to be a double-wide in one of the less gentrified communities in Florida. 

Those kinds of towns are easy to find.  Generally when they have more pawn shops and liquor stores than they do grocery stores or schools you’ll know you’ve found one. 

In any case, they were determined that me and my brothers would have the kind of old-fashioned farmhouse upbringing they had pictured in their heads so, once we moved in we did what all good neighbors do upon entering a new community. 

Built a big ass fence and didn’t leave the yard. 

It was during this period that I started to come to realize I’m not much for manual labor.  Not to say I’m lazy or anything; but I’m lazy.  So those first several months, while they were hard on everyone looking back; I felt that they were especially difficult for me since I was a lazy, self-centered preteen.

By the time all the renovations were complete our home had a fairly large front and back yard, filled with citrus trees as well as two small ponds and a chicken coop that doubled as a laundry room.

The next day, they managed to locate a farmers market and came home with: 25 chickens, 2 ducks, 2 geese and two turkeys. 

I was ecstatic. 

I love small animals and slowly learned that yes, most fowl are completely idiotic; but still very sweet.  Except ducks and geese.  Both of those types of animals seem to have been built out of rage and sexual assault. 

It wasn’t long after we got our animals that the neighborhood children on our street began pestering their own families for ducks and such for themselves.  Being exactly the kind of responsible parents you would expect them to be, they acquiesced to their children’s demands and purchased their own livestock, albeit without the same level of preparation we did.

Within a year of us moving into this community our street looked like a country road in Kazakhstan, with ducks, geese, chickens and I think at one point even a goat (no one knew who it belonged to; it just showed up one day.) roaming the streets. 

To the credit of the animals we owned, they started to display a talent at organizing all these disparate creatures together into one cohesive unit at our home.  The residents of the community were fine with this considering they didn’t want the damned things to begin with.  So, by the time our foray into trailer park farming ended we had a menagerie of animals.  There was a school bus that actually altered it’s route just so the kids riding home could see what amounted to a petting zoo.  Those were good times, but like all things they couldn’t last. 

So much so that we couldn’t afford to feed them and ourselves.  Which led to a very rational choice on our part.  One day, we rounded up all the animals and in our front lawn began to put down the majority of them.  We started in the early morning, fully expecting to be done in time; but did not count on how hard it is to chase and capture 80+ farm animals.  But, we managed to get it done.  We were just wrapping up with the last chicken when the school bus made it’s turn onto our street. 

My Dad, quickly switched gears.  Loosening the tie on the chickens neck and scooting it along to go play with the rabbits.  He waved at the children and motioned for us to do the same.

This was actually so much worse.

You see, it’s bad enough if you’re young to see someone ending another creatures life.  It’s a completely different matter to see; as a child a grown man wearing overalls with a white shirt, both of which stained with blood waving an axe while smiling as his three children just stare at you. 

I don’t think we wound up trying farming again.  It turned out it was just as hard on my parents as it was us to put down a large amount of animals we had raised ourselves (even though from the beginning, we knew this was what we would do) we could actually not even bring ourselves to eat them (with the exception of one of the turkeys.  We have hearts, but come on; this was right before Thanksgiving.  Those damned things are expensive.) so we donated all of them, plucked and cleaned to local homeless shelters as well as needy families in the area so they could eat.  As for that chicken, we named it Lucky and it lived a long and full life.  Dying of natural causes.  We gave her a proper burial and she is still there today.

I have no idea what happened to that goat. 

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Worst. Best. Prom. Ever.

When I was 17 and much more naive than I am now, I accidentally bought a hooker and took her to my Senior class prom.

It’s a long story.

I was never very popular in High School, so when I was asked to be the date for someone who I considered far beyond my league; I was quite excited.  I told my parents who were also excited.  Mainly because they were convinced I didn’t like girls.  So justifiably, we went the whole nine yards.  My father, thinking you needed to be classy helped me find the perfect tuxedo (with tails, top hat, cane and monocle) and my mother thought it would be cute if I got her a corsage that was the size of a VW Beetle. 

Two days before the dance, I’m talking to her (who shall remain nameless) when she tells me that she has opted to go with someone more her station in the High School pecking order.  I cry, beg, throw a tantrum.  All in all, I think I handled it quite well.

I can’t tell my parents, who had spent so much money with the idea that their son was going to have a magical evening with memories that would last forever.  So I made the only decision someone my age and maturity level would make.

I did an internet search for, “I need a date tonight”.

Now keep in mind, this is the early 2000’s.  Before Google, so what we used then were search engines like ‘webcrawler’ that would provide a long list of links without any regard for things like, ‘legal’ or ‘reputable’.  So I saw this list and one link drew my eyes.  “DO YOU NEED DAATE T0NIGHT$$!? CALL MAX AT 555-555-5555 <3~~!!”  I of course, clink the link.  I have always been very trusting of people who use capslock. 

The webpage is very sparse, simply requesting your name, credit card information, day and time for your date to arrive and how long you need her/him for.  The credit card is no problem, I steal my dads.  It makes sense to me, considering they so badly want me to have a good time; of course they’d be willing to pay a little bit more.  Then, after finally entering in all the information I need I see that the billing hours they use have a discount rate.  Apparently, the longer you need your date for; they stop charging as much!  How great is that?  So I opt for about…5 hours and send my request.

I spend the day of Prom as a nervous wreck.  My parents leave early as they don’t want to ‘harsh our good time’.  At about 730p I hear a knock at the door and I race to answer it.  When I fling open the door a vision stands before me.  In one palsied hand, she has a Virginia Slim 120; in the other, a beaten and worn coinpurse.  Spider veins race up her dessicated calves only to disappear under a tattered and frayed black cocktail dress.  Her yellow tinted skin matches her decayed teeth perfectly and the only hint of makeup is the bits that she forgot to clean out of her deep wrinkled face.  She was beautiful to me at 17. 

She takes a long draw on her cigarette, politely exhaling away from my face and with a voice of angels (if angels ate gravel and smoked 3 lighters worth of cigarettes a day) said, “You Germy?”

“Yeah that’s me.”

She points at herself with one long and bony finger, “I’m Cawrlah.  I’m ya date tahnyte.”  She twitches her head at her beaten up car, “Let’s go.”

I’ve never been more excited.  All I can think about is how jealous all my friends are going to be when they see me and Carla arrive at the dance.  Me, the one everyone makes fun of is going to show up with an adult woman!  Everyone else is with these immature high school girls, but not me!  Not Gerrimy!  I’m so lost in thought that I barely am paying attention to the subtle clues Carla sends my way about what her profession is such as:

“Y’know ya awfully young to be needin someone like me honey.”

“Y’know if ya parents are cops ya gotta tell me.”

“If ya got ten bucks, I’ll blow ya.”

We arrive at the convention center for prom and all eyes turn towards me and Carla.  I can tell she’s just as nervous as I am, because she immediately began moving towards the punch where our schools Principle was and started talking quite animatedly with her hands to him.

The night is a bust.  Carla spends all her time with a bunch of the teachers, walking back and forth from the dance area to the punch bowl to the bathroom and I’m stuck sitting at a table like a putz.  I decide to make the most of it.  I find the girl that stood me up dancing with the guy she decided to choose over me and I take a deep breath, fully prepared to confront the both of them.

“Hey!”  They stop dancing.  He is much bigger than he looked from across the dancefloor.

“Whatthefuckyouwant?” 

I steel myself, ball my fists and jut out my chin.  Adopting the masculine poses I had seen in so many comic books.  “I just wanted you both to know that I think you’re both trash.  You knew she already had a date and you just tossed me aside like I’m nothing as soon as something came along that you thought was better.”

He looks confused and points at Carla.  “Youbroughtafuckinghookertoadance!”

A red haze falls over me.  How dare he insult my date!  In a flurry of anger, I leap at him screaming, “Shesnohooker!She’sanicelady!”  I’m sure I could’ve come up with something better, but I didn’t have the time and didn’t plan on getting into a fight.  It’s at this point where I understand the difference between comics and reality. 

In comics the good guy wins, being strengthened by the power of their own righteousness.  In real life, no matter how right you think you may be, you will get your ass kicked if you are a fat kid trying to fight a football player.

It takes two hits for him to put me down.  Everyone is laughing at me, which is nothing new.  But there is one new thing to it.  Carla.  She’s kneeling down next to me, snarling at everyone and brandishing a stungun.  “You get tha fuck back or I’ll kill ya!”  She turns her attention back to me and pulls out some sanitary napkins from her coinpurse, dabbing at my face.  “Lets get ya outta here.”  She hoists up and we leave. 

Later that night, we’re at Dennys when I look at her over the mozarella sticks and ask her.  “You’re really a hooker huh?”

“Well…yeah.”

“Huh.  OK.”  This isn’t the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me so I just accept with a shrug and move on. 

“So…do you still want anything?  I mean we still have like two hours sweetie.”

“No.  I’m good.  I think I just wanna go home.”

She drops me off at my house and drives out of my life forever.

I never found out what happened to Carla, but two weeks later I came home to my parents yelling at eachother.  Apparently, someone had spent 500$ on an escort service.  A few years later, I told my parents what happened. 

My dad gave me a high five and my mom just shook her head.

 

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I have a problem.

On Friday night, I got out of work early when the pangs of hunger began assaulting my midsection.  I pondered to myself who could be open at midnight when I spied the golden rims of Taco Bell in the distance.  I pulled into the drive through trying to decide what I wanted to eat before I got to the menu. I really suddenly wanted to try the doritos loco taco but was worried.

what if the bag of failure they call an employee made it incorrectly? I would forever think negatively of such a creation.  So I thought logically about it. He couldn’t possibly fuck up 6 of them.  So I looked into the mesh face of the drive through reciever.

“Welcome to Taco Bell may I take your order?”

“Yes I would like a 12 taco variety pack”

“OH! 12 tacos! Do you have a party tonight?”
I die a little inside.
“Nope. Cry for help.”

I arrived home. The hunters moon gave my cardboard suitcase of tacos an evil sheen.

As I was driving I realized how difficult it was to eat a taco and drive at the same time. They were clearly not meant for this.  Everytime I would grasp one in my hand and try to bite into it all the insides would just rush out like a bunch of Croatian refugees.

Not to mention that the seasoning they use for them, while delicious sticks to your fingers worse than cheetos.

So I get into my apartment, set my case of tacos on my bed and just stare at it a moment. Like a pirate, observing their ill-gotten gains. My cat sitting on its haunches just judging me. I call her fat, partly out of frustration, parly out of transference and projection of my own negative self-thoughts and bite into one.

Immediately I am taken away to a land of pleasure mixed with pain. Pleasure at the familiar scents, tastes of the taco. Pain at the fact that it tastes like wet cardboard.

I think logically. Perhaps this is the one that that shouldabeen abortion screwed up! Perhaps the others are amazing and taste like rainbows and unicorns! Or whatever faux mexican food that is made well tastes like.
I bite into a cool ranch taco (this is the variety they spoke of). It tastes like suicide.
Suicide and poverty.
I can imagine children huddled around gas lit stoves in the backwoods of Kentucky. Fingers numb from working to press potatoes and corn into moonshine stills all the day, shivering from the cold and the only thing they have to keep the starvation at bay is the wet paper offal they have left over from the days work to sate them. They sprinkle some ranch dressing on it to make it go down easier.
Thats what I think of when I bite into the Cool Ranch Dorito Taco.
Next thing I know, I’m shoveling them down my throat. My brain, terrified at what I’m doing, is sending pain signals streaming down my nervous system. Nothing stops me, I’m like Rocky. If Rocky didn’t practice healthy eating habits. My brain is sending signals to new types of pain I’ve never experienced before in hopes I’ll stop.
“Fuck it…uh…eaten by shark, send that!”
Its to no avail.
I finish the last taco.
Now all that is left of my dignity and self esteem is a foot ball sized wad of Taco Bell food packing paper inside of a cardboard carrying case. Empty packets of hot sauce surround it. Like Mary Magdalene at the death of Christ, the only witnesses to this massacre were me, my cat and those packets that could still be considered salvageable.
I thought about how I felt about this food.  Was it good?  Meh, it was OK.
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