to a lot of people, my status as a night person is an affliction. like if i start a foundation, publish a newsletter and host a 5K, some white coat at johns hopkins will find a cure. with a positive attitude and a few go-rounds with nyquil, i, too, will be able to start my day to the soundtrack of "today show" banter and ease into a gentle 8-hour coma during the closing credits of prime time television.
"you will need to leave duluth at 9 a.m.," my mom calculates for me. she is hosting a family send off for grandma pista, who is returning to florida to school the other retirees in scrabble. a sunday lunch-ish affair, which i mistakenly visualize as an open house. "it's not an open house," she reads my mind on friday. "the party starts at 1 p.m. ... it takes four hours to get to rochester from duluth. you will need to leave no later than 9 a.m."
i sigh. i'm not sure which planet she's driving on, but here in minnesota, earth, it takes no more than 3 hours, 25 minutes to drive from duluth to rochester -- even if one plans to pee in stacy, minn.
truth: i've done it in 2:58 ... but those were the reckless years when i blindly believed my parents would forever pay for my car insurance. so i sigh again, and add an hour: 35 minutes for her miscalculation; 25 minutes to maintain my reputation as a person who will never show up anywhere on time. as a sign of respect, i decide i will set my alarm for 9 a.m., just to show i've not completely ignored her math.
it is saturday night and jcrew cannot, metaphorically, get her reisling soaked claws off me. she insists that we go to a place that knows no smoking ban. schultz's in superior, wis. per usual, no mere exclamation point is powerful enough to convey her wishes.
me: no. jcrew: [indiscernable catarwaling] me: i have to get up at 9 a.m. jcrew: [questions our friendship; naysays that i will actually leave duluth at 9 a.m.] me: i will! i don't have a choice! jcrew: so what. i get up earlier than that every day! me: yeah. but you don't have a strict 4 a.m. bedtime! jcrew: it's not like you're going to go to bed at 11:30 p.m. you should just go out ... me: don't be silly. but 9 a.m. is hard enough without being all wasted the night before ... jcrew: [expletive] me: i'll think about it.
three hours later, seadawg, jcrew, chuck and i are squinting at each other through a camel lite haze at schultz's. jcrew is telling us about mouth surgery she had years ago. seadawg suggests that a sailor's mouth was transplanted into jcrew's face.
one of the worst things about pre-halloween weekend is wondering if that guy in the shiny red NASCAR coat is in costume. you have to be really careful about your compliments.
the night ends at the hammond spur. chuck and i wave goodbye with $19 worth of various fried and cheese-filled substances collected in a white bag that is already showing pit stains.
i wake at 9 a.m. on the dot. booyah.
i'd rather drive anywhere than rochester. I35 is fine and has points of interest. highway 52 will suck your soul and spit it into a dumpster behind a strip club called jake's near coates, minn. not to mention public radio is having a pledge drive, which means every time i really start to feel click and clack, they ask me for money.
i'm beginning to think it would be more pleasureable to start myself on fire, just to feel something other than fatigue and monotony. then i see a car pulled over on the side of the road and a passenger barfing near the back right tire and all is right with the world for a few more miles.
the best way to explain the party would be to give you this visual: a room teeming with elementary school aged girls vying for my attention. my favorite, my 6-year-old niece mel, is climbing on my lap and making up pretty sophisticated halloween jokes:
"how did the skeleton know his right foot from his left hand?" "i don't know." "he put an R on his foot and an L on his hand." "i'm not sure i follow ..."
"what's a witches favorite subject?" "hmmm" "spelling." "i don't get it." "me either."
meanwhile maddog is demonstrating vintage breakdancing. specifically, the worm. suddenly a handful of tots and one 32 year old are gyrating on the floor. it's like a bunch of epileptics have been stuck in a room with a strobe light, watching "the wall" just as the place is struck by lightning. in the interim, my attention is repeatedly summoned via pokes and "christa-christa-christa."
at some point a kickball game spontaneously unfolds in the adjacent park. from the deck i see mel running the bases backward and maddog doing handstands on second.
pista note: i wrote this earlier today, then a lot more stuff happened. so i completely rewrote it. so there.
the more i thought about my stolen cell phone, the more pissed off i got. it isn't the phone's primary feature i miss so much -- i really do not ever choose to have a lengthy phone conversation. i am, however, a nimble texter. i use the clock because i struggle intepreting the position of the short hand on an old fashioned clock face. i also very occasionally use the alarm clock feature; more occasionally use the note taking function and often use the camera.
and so thinking of sweet lauri the slippery fingered cell phone stealer had rustled some of my bile today as i considered the way she had screwed me by stealing my phone. and i thought "y'know ... i'm not sure i did everything possible yet to get back my phone."
so i began calling numbers, again, from my online cell phone log. meanwhile, a new phone is being fed ex'd to me. i have sevenish business days before i get it. but if i can get back the original ... well, that is what i'd prefer for all sorts of stupid reasons that are similar to why you don't throw away the gum wrapper from the wad you split with your prom date in 1994.
first i called the man i'd talked to late last week: dusty, i learned today. he's not seen lauri since the day she came around showing off her new nokia flip phone and bragging about how she could have a 1-2 minute conversation with ANYONE IN THE WORLD INCLUDING A 411 DIRECTORY ASSISTANT! WATCH ME!
but as soon as i casually mentioned that i had in my possession a list of "friends" she had called and a casual ease toward policemen, dusty broke:
he gave me her full name. he didn't have her address, but told me exactly where she lives, right down to which apartment and practically the color of carpeting. and he said he would still keep his eyes open for me.
next i called a woman named lindsay, who was very helpful. using the same "i could just give this list of phone numbers to the police, but i think it would be easier if i just dealt with her myself" line, and dusty's information about her full name and apartment number, lindsay joined my find my cellphone team. drugs, lindsay acknowledged, frequent cell phone stealing.
she, too, promised to be on the lookout.
i called a number from the list with a 607 area code and left a message.
since i had her last name now, and knew that she was from two harbors, i called a listing for john [laurie's last name]. here i found her frustrated sister, who told me that she is sick of lauri and wishes she would "grow the [eff] up." lauri has three kids and a serious drug problem. her sister wished i would just call the police. "but," she said, "i think lauri called my mom yesterday. i'll check with her and see if she can get into lauri's apartment and look around."
now i went digital with my research: married twice, suspended nursing liscense, arrested and jailed and fined for giving false information to a policeman. 32 years old. one of her exes, ron, seemed promising. i could find a phone number for him, and it sounded familiar. i believe ron was the one who left her the "c'mon lauri, don't be like that. answer the phone" message that tipped me off to her spree.
i decided to wait for her sister to get back to me before dragging ron into the mess.
the 607 area code called me back. "hello?" i said. "lauri?" he said. "what?" i asked. this was getting surreal. now i was getting calls for her on a land line? "no," i said. "this is christa. lauri stole my cell phone."
i explained the story to him. he told me he was calling from new york. that he had to leave the greater duluth area because of this minx, lauri, but that they are still occasionally in contact. he had assumed, when he saw the 218 area code, that i was lauri -- calling from a new number, as she is wont to do. he told me that if he talked to her, he would see what he could do.
then lindsay called back. breathless. she had just tried all of the numbers from which lauri had ever called her in the past, but had not gotten ahold of her yet. lindsay was on her way to minneapolis, but said she would continue hunting for my phone when she comes back on sunday. "i'll call you sunday night," she promised.
then new york called back again. "y'know," he said. "i can't remember his phone number anymore, but you should call her dad. his name is john. he lives in two harbors. i'm sure its in the phone book. here's what you do:
pretend you are looking for carrie's phone number. that's lauri's sister. say you went to school with her. then call carrie and tell her what happened. she'll help you out. DON'T ACCIDENTALLY TALK TO HER OTHER SISTER, THOUGH!"
"well," i said. "i already talked to one of her sisters. i didn't get her name," i explained. "she said maybe lauri's mom would go to her apartment and look around."
"where's lauri living these days?" new york asked me.
and here things take a strange twist. instead of searching for my cell phone, i'm updating lauri's friends and family on her life in a sort of christmas letter detail. and these people are forgetting that i've been robbed of my digital clock. instead i've become frigging lauri's personal paul revere.
"two harbors," i said. "white house, upstairs apartment." "hmm ..." he said. "so she's still living there ..." "anyway," i said. "i also talked to her friend lindsay [last name] who is trying to help me find it." "oh," he said. "okay." "do you think i should try calling ron?" i asked new york, referring to lauri's exhusband. "ohhhh," new york groaned. "do you really wanna go there? ... hmmm ... i suppose that isn't a bad idea." "really?" i ask. "yeah," new york tells me. "he takes care of her kids and he's the one who always gives her money. he'll for sure know where she is. do you know how she's doing?" "it sounds like she's heavy into the drugs," i confirm what he suspects.
we chatted a few more minutes. this search is getting more and more bizarre. it's like if i overturn one more lauri rock, i'm going to end up becoming friends with her or something. three years from now we'll be sitting around, trying to consume the mickey's big mouths we have duct taped to our hands before it hits our bladders and i'll be all: remember when you stole my cell phone? and we'll laugh. oh how we'll laugh.
typically when i lose my cell phone, it is recovered by the sort of do-gooder who calls everyone in my phone book in an attempt to hunt me down. this means a conversation with ben, who i hung out with at frankie's one night 100 years ago, where i tell him i have a boyfriend -- and no, i still don't have any cute single friends.
somewhere between quinlan's, the backseat of an allied cab and the ghetto spur, i lost my phone. when i woke this afternoon, i tried calling my phone from chuck's. no buzz of vibration from a corner of my purse. i checked my messages:
the first was from jcrew, lauding her own fashion sense as it applied to semaire armstrong's cell phone on dirty sexy money.
the second was not the well-wishing do-gooder with news on my phones whereabouts. it was a grunty man who loudly and drunkenly plead: c'mon, laurie. don't be like that. answer the phone.
this was how i knew i'd not only lost my phone, it had been pressed against the dirty ear of a hot headed cell phone thief named laurie. i checked my online call log and learned that laurie had made 33 1-2 minute calls between 9:55 a.m. to present -- including a $1.50 call to 411. i like knowing that in laurie's world, today will forever be known as the day the sky opened and dropped a free cell phone in her KFC special sauce-stained lap. the day she unfolded a tattered sheet of paper -- her phone number list, and began calling each number -- sometimes twice -- and telling everyone about how she just got a nokia flip phone, newish save for the teeth marks where its previous owner had occasionally gnawed on the semi-antenae.
sorry, laurie. i reported it stolen to cellular one and had the service suspended. she didn't text anyone. possible that she slipped into something naughty and photographed her own mushy cleavage, while frolicking in the morning glow of the neon sign at last chance liquor. luckily laurie didn't know this phone's capabilities: it could do internets.
we did some reverse phone number lookups, but found just one perminant address on first street east. this suggests a level of class typically found stuck to the rotating plate of a gas station microwave.
later in the day i cozied up next to a land line and made a phone call to one of the repeated numbers from laurie's phone frenzy.
man: hello? me: hi. i believe your friend laurie has stolen my cell phone. man: i don't know no laurie's ... me: really? because at approximately 1 p.m. today you talked to her for two minutes. and that wasn't your first conversation of the day. man: i don't know a laurie. i do know that a girl called me ... but her name isn't laurie. ... this girl is a stupid bitch. me: well. do you know where she lives and how i can get ahold of her and get my phone back? man: hmm ... i don't know where she lives. she just calls me sometimes. did you try to call her? me: uh. yeah. she's probably not answering because she stole my phone. man: hmm ... what does the phone look like? me: i don't know. a cell phone. man: is it a blue nokia flip phone? me: yes. man: hmm ... i think i saw that today. i'm going to get it back for you. can i reach you at this number? me: yes.
six hours later and i've not heard back from him. my phone is useless to laurie right now, no service and likely a dead battery. seems like now would be a good time for her to return it. she's had her fun; i've had a good laugh. i found the long list of calls spasm inducing [i have unlimited calling], the conversation with the man who called her a bitch a real hoot, and chuck's slow motion impersonation of a woman stealing my phone while i was distracted by gatorade and burritos down right hilarious.
i don't have the lists of books i want to read that i put in the notes section, and i don't have a copy of my favorite text message ever. the photo of chuck wearing goalie pads that used to crop up when he called? gone. and, most importantly, i don't have a damn phone right now and i'm being haunted by phantom ringsitis.
sometimes you have to make important decisions. like, should i get drunk with my boyfriend and have fun conversations about how in the late 80s i thought INXS was satanic and how he made a christmas of the north parade float when he was taking an elective? or should we lay on the couch and watch tivo. again.
both are great in their own way. i love the tv watching. it is cozy and if you'd told me i would like it a year and a half ago, i'd have stabbed you in the eye with a super potato ole.
the more i don't drink, the more self righteous i get inadvertantly. and the more i crave a night where i cozy up next to chuck in a bar, whisper in his ear and say nothing. at. all. where everything is funny and we deconstruct our cab driver. that silliness makes us. and when we don't do it, i miss it. and when we do do it, i forget exactly what happened. but i know it was fun.
so i'll risk the burning pee. i'll risk two days of hangover.
i love these nights. these nights where i make a carrot cake, we go to the bar, buy burritos on the way home. forget the carrot cake. it molds to death. thank god i licked the beaters.
we start the day by thoroughly deconstructing the internet. chatting, coffee ... then i realize that chuck hasn't heard a word i've said in 12 minutes.
because he is going all little-monkey-in-a-red-suit-meets-bongo-drums-and-double-A-batteries on his keyboard.
as a sign of respect, i wait approximately 3 seconds after he leaves before i sprint into the living room, flop onto the couch and begin my busy day:
really, lauren? brody? i'm not so sure ... and does spencer have a job or not?
oh hilary. you should have known "you make my pompoms sweat" is not sexy.
so now that i've completely overcaffinated myself and gotten my cardio in, i move on to blue machine naked juice. after that i have big plans involving cranberry juice.
i fritter about a bit. sometimes i just like to run around, sliding on the wood floors.
i like chuck's bathroom because you can prop your feet on the tub when you go. this is a reenactment, as i'm not vulgar enough [anymore] to actually take a photo of myself in action.
i settle into bed with a book.
i'm suddenly incapable of reading more than seven pages at a time without catching a nasty case of the narcolepsies. and, frankly, it has been a grueling day already. i conk out for two hours of where i struggle with dreams of betrayal. these are dreams in which everyone in the world turns against me and i search for answers. these are my worst-favorite kinds of dream. although they would make for great lifetime original movies.
i research some recipes online. tonight i am going to make a version of the middle eastern plate from chester creek cafe. i brave pant-pants and wind and make my way into the world.
two women at cub foods are grazing on snap peas. one looks like she desperately needs a snack; the other looks like she thinks this is her garden. i resist the urge to take pictures of them and the urge to say "hey ladies, this ain't old country buffet."
i stop home to visit my pet and make sure he is fed and watered. he mistakes my camera for the hand of an affectionate pet owner. he has so much to learn.
then it is back to chuck's to make my spread.
i find that i need garlic. i go to super one and the cashier guy looks at it and says: onion? i say: garlic. he smiles a half-toothless grin.
this project eventually took about four hours to complete.
while i was making, "falafel," i received these summerish photos from lil latrell's visit:
here we are, smiling and happy!
here we are, walking along the breakwater!
here we are hiking!
my tzatziki is good; my tabbouleh is pretty decent; my falafel looks and tastes like potato pancakes. two out of three ain't bad, i guess. and worst case scenario, i got a good recipe for potato pancakes.
by now it is 2:30 a.m., so we settle in with a movie.
i am, infrequently, forced to buy cigarettes at the pioneer for all sort of reasons that combine laziness, addiction and having not forged any sort of emotional connection to the extra two dollars it will cost me to buy them in a bar rather than a gas station.
i did it a few days ago. the bar was empty, save for biggie and ed grimley, who cheered my arrival with a level of frivolity that would suggest they actually recognize me when they are sober. they don't. and the former is my downstairs neighbor; the latter a sort of address unknown character who frequently hunkers down in the downstairs dining room on a feather bed and comforter i can only assume were stolen from a laundramat.
six hours and a throat-numbing amount of gin earlier, these clowns may have passed me on the steps and reintroduced themselves: hi. i'm biggie, this is my friend ed grimley. i live downstairs! we like to party! sometimes we pass out on your top step, if we make it home. haha! and you are ... ?
from the corner of the bar i heard a gentle mew: christa?
it was my landlord. his tear ducts dripping with bud light; his mood suggesting that somewhere, hours earlier, he had fallen face-first into an oozing mess of free chicken wings during halftime of the vikings' game. here he was now, playing golden tee and coicidentally wearing a golf shirt still bearing gap-caliber creases.
i chatted with him for a few minutes. he told me how he'd gotten the shirt on sale. i packed my cigarettes.
today i was back at the pioneer for another quick fix. i made my purchase and walked out into the street.
"hey, sister," a man said to me from the shadows. "huh? wha?" i said. "i like your hat," he said. i squinted at him. "thanks. do i know you?" i asked. "nah. i'm just being friendly," he said. "having a cigarette ... where are you going? did you just stop in to hit a cash machine?" i held up my pack. "i really like your hat," he said. again. "i'm an old dead-head, so i can appreciate a hat like that."
[i got this hat at urban outfitters. i didn't, like, find it crammed into jerry garcia's armpit.]
"are you coming from luce? or are you just out, like, walking around?" he asked. "just walking," i said, walking away. pretty sure that this man has just inferred that, based upon my hat, i'm either a stoner or a hippie -- not to mention, his sibling.
but really, i wasn't thinking that hard about any of this conversation. instead i was having a flashback to my last trip to the pioneer. the previous day. my landlord, the golf shirt, packing the cigarettes while we chatted.
this is when i realize that i'm pretty sure i smoked half of my cigarette in the bar while talking to him. i remember not knowing what to do with the foil, as there wasn't a garbage can nearby. i didn't want to set it on the counter because it seemed rude. i'd jammed it in my pocket and then i'm pretty sure i lit my cigarette, chatted, and left.
no one said a word. this is how i know that in some places, i'm still above the law.
as luck would have it, i had balcony seats for last night's episode of "parallel parking my three-toned pickup while hopped up on hooch and hubris." chuck and i were on the deck, when a curious amount of revving and puttering caused us to turn and watch the college student ram his truck into the back end of my civic.
my car, as always, impersonating a rubbermaid, bounced. the driver ditched out of the truck. "let's go! let's GO!" his friend slurred from the sidewalk.
by then i was already remotely blinking the lights on the civic to let this little wasteoid know that i had seen the whole thing. i'm omnipresent. hear that, college kids! i'm your mrs. garrett and you are all tootie! [let me reiterate that i absolutely love this weekend mayhem. i'll sacrifice a tail light or two, and consider it the price of admission for a pretty decent show. these predictible acts of public urination -- metaphorical and literal -- are my real world marathon.]
"hey, you litte effer," i yelled down to him. "you just hit my car." "wha --?" he said, dumbly. "yeah. you just hit my car. i think that means you are supposed to leave your information on my windshield," i called down. "what's you're information?" he asked. "just put your phone number and insurance information in a little note on my car," i talked him through the protocol. "do you have a pen?" he asked. "look in your glove compartment," i suggested. "what's your information?" he asked again. "i don't give you MY information. you hit MY car," i reminded him. "what's your number," he asked. "are you drunk?" i cajoled him. "no," he said. "put. your. information. on my car," i said more slowly. "give me your information," he said.
by this time he'd built up my inner ire, so i tore down the steps after him only to see his truck disappear into the night. down the block, a front door slammed. the passenger had sought refuge in his house.
by now, chuck and i were in the street. occasionally we would see the truck driving slowly up an avenue two blocks away, driving down an avenue a block away. aren't they so precocious at that age?
my car, meanwhile, was undamaged. i almost wish something had broken. these kids were part of the same posse that, a few weekends ago, ignored 20 minutes of police presense on their doorstep. stood behind a locked door mocking the officer and knowing that he couldn't, like, kick down the door. it is the sense of entitlement and disregard for repercussions that interests me the most. say he did wreck my car. say i did get his information. i'd probably end up in court with his hairy knuckled onion breathing father who would post a counter suit. something about the emotional anguish i'd caused his son by calling him a little effer. and they would probably win.
i nudged chuck. just down the block, a massive body was curled up in the fetal position, napping on the sidewalk.
"i kind of want to check that out," he said.
the napper was breathing. his potbelly heaving and distended over the tops of unfashionable jeans. we gave him a few nudges. then a few more serious nudges. we tried to talk to him, but he continued to billow wafts of boozy breath. you could smell his rancid exhales from half a block away.
and herein lies the conundrum: once you have repeatedly jammed your bare foot into into a drunken stranger's shins, he becomes your responsibility. you can let him lay on the sidewalk until he wakes naturally at 5 p.m. the next day. but in this town, the locals like to get all wasted and then go rock climbing in chester creek. this death trap has some sort of animalistic tug, a coaxing pitch that you can only hear when you are at about .30 and suddenly decide that you love nature so much, you are going to go ram your skull into a boulder so that your brain parts can become one with the creek.
we asked some people in the vacinity if they knew the man. no one did. including the f-wads carrying a case of coors light who had ditched their pickup a block away and thought i'd forget how they tried to park in my backseat a few minutes earlier.
so i called the police. i didn't necessarily want this man to wake up in detox. but i definitely didn't want him to not wake up with his spleen splattered on the rocks, either.
i described him to the dispatcher. apparently, merely interpreting his aesthetics like a piece of art. i said he was white, middle aged and chunky. he was not white, college aged and chunky. at least i know chunky when i see it.
two squads pulled up about 15 minutes later. both cars contained one officer in uniform and one plain clothed officer in a hoodie and jeans. and once they were in action, they were a four-man fun factory.
cop 1: that's a funny place to take a nap. cop 2: i wouldn't nap there. cop 3: nope. that's not a very comfortable napping place. cop 4: would you nap there? cop 1: i wouldn't nap there.
cop 2 [flashing light on sleeping man]: hey buddy, time to get up. cop 3: wakey wakey. cop 4: you can't nap here. cop 1: that's no place to take a nap.
finally they get him on his feet.
cop 2: what's your name? cop 3: do you have any ID, sir? cop 4: we're going to need some ID.
cop 1: that's not a name. cop 2: that's a funny name. cop 3: what's your real name? cop 4: yeah, no one is named that.
cop 1: ed duane? your name is ed duane? cop 2: that's a funny name. duane. cop 3: mr. ed duane. that's not your name. cop 4: duane. come on duane.
i'm staring at 32 fluid ounces of cranberry juice. making sure this is actual cranberry juice and not some sort of cocktail blend that adds sugars and good-tasting things that make it actually palatable. no. i want the most dry, bitter, unenhanced, possibly disgusting jug of cranberry juice available. this, my friends, is not your ocean spray.
about 30 feet away, a woman is literally moaning. deep guteral satisfied moans. she sounds like a barn. when i peek around the soy puffs, or whatever the hell is framing the most natural, pure, unmolested form of cranberry juice i can find, i see her hugging a marked-down box of hamburger helper. she either really, really likes hamburger helper [and who doesn't!] or she is wasted. and at 11:15 p.m. on a saturday, hair like that and those party shoes, i'm guessing it is the latter.
man, does it look fun. man, is this cranberry juice going to be gross.
that girl, teetering around neighing, is blissfully unaware that sometime in the next seven years -- maybe tomorrow, maybe four years from now -- there is a chance that things are going to start to fall apart. enjoy that hamburger helper before it kills you, missy.
for me, it is the urinary tract infections. all of the things i like to do tend to exacerbate them. it seems that just one out of ten times i drink excessively, i elude a two-day hangover or fire pee. after those rare outings, it is like the sweet gentle paw of the magic booze hound has blessed me. then, last week i didn't do any of the things i like to do and got one anyway. this means, i got one from just living my plain old sober and simple life. i probably caught it from knitting.
am i going to have to cut out caffeine? spicy foods? liquids? pants? ugh.
and while i like to get all dramatic and wimpy about my fragile wiring, it seems like everyone i know has something. we are allergy wheezing, migrane seering, diabetes poking, nasal bleeding sinus infectioned, infertility researching, prozac popping insomniacs, wrapped in ace bandages. i'm assuming this applies to the general population and not just the people i know, as we do not seem to be trudging through toxic waste or a pet cemetary.
it's cruel: as soon as we reach an age where we can afford to do the things we like, what we like sends us screaming to urgent care. or the dentist. i forgot to mention that my teeth break.
is there anyone out there over the age of 30 who doesn't have anything? who can drink, type, binge on gluten, run without stress fractures and snort pollen off a strangers abs with nary a phlegmy nasal drool? because that sounds nice. ...
i do a lap around the outside of the grocery store to see if anything else picques my tastebuds and run into danger ranger again. she is with a friend, pushing a car filled with pizza, chips and orange juice. by now she is growling over a chocolate bar, all scoliosis and tongue dripping, teeth bared, claws extended. maybe she does have a thing afterall.
the cashier scans my cranberry juice: $6.75. he looks at the juice, confused. looks at the screen, looks at me. "this better be the best-tasting cranberry juice ever, huh?" he says. "i hope not," i say.
wildcat: everytime i meet someone from canada, they just want to talk about trip shakespeare. frigging trip shakespeare. like trip shakespeare is the frigging beatles in canada. seriously.
in other news:
i promise this will not turn into my dream journal. but today i was napping and chuck was making lunch in the kitchen and i dreamt that chuck was in the kitchen making lunch. in the dream, i walked out into the kitchen, and had some difficulty spooning the food onto my plate. then we crawled over some stuff to sit on the couch to watch tv while we ate.
we were watching the flintstones. fred, wilma, bambam and pebbles were in a prehistoric golf cart chasing after -- what i thought was a moose, but was actually a bull -- driving a prehistoric golf cart in front of them. sometimes taking turns on two wheels. a lot of cartoonish smoke coming out of the wheels. steam from his nostrils.
chuck and i were both laughing at the scene.
then we saw the scene from the bull's perspective. fred flintstone had turned into ricardo montalbon -- as mr. roarke from fantasy island. he waved a piece of paper at the bull, and said in fred flintstone's voice "sorry, mr. moose, but you forgot your map!"
i woke up laughing. that phrase ran through my head for the rest of the day.
yesterday afternoon i was curled up on the couch, plugged into headphones, carrying on a pretty animated conversation with abc.com. specifically, brad the bachelor and his harem of hubby chasers.
so far his opinions have aligned with mine quite nicely, so a lot of our one-sided talks are congratulatory and without criticism. but sometimes he procrastinates on booting a banshee i loathe, so i get a little riled. for instance: after brad completely ignored a skinny dipping solisa, he kept her around long enough to ignore her lap dance with the dull-eyed expression of a man who didn't own a lap. i'm glad that he had the guts to ditch the jersey girl despite the fact she fell down the steps. she was arguably the least attractive woman to ever grace nonpublic access television. i could tell she wanted a cigarette for two episodes. finally, by the end of the last show, he trimmed the fat in a very acceptible way, by canning jade. and as long as he continues to favor jenni, the dancer for the phoenix suns, i probably won't fling my laptop into oncoming traffic.
fannie and i were emailing after i watched the show. paragraph after paragraph, disecting the remaining women. pounding away at my keyboard, send. more pounding, send. "i feel like abc.com is trying to trick me. they want me to like jenni, and then there is going to be a twist. jenni isn't going to win. i hope they aren't trying to trick me. they really have chemistry." it was delightful. weeks earlier i was talking to jcrew on the phone but was in the middle of something and pled: "wait. let's pick up this conversation about the bachelor some other time. i really want to talk about it some more."
because i did. and i do. all i want to do is talk about the bachelor. my tirades about the show, by default, become the white noise that turns chuck's eyeballs glassy. and if i'm watching, he may hide in another room under the guise of, like, scrambling eggs or something.
i want to take each of the weeping rejecteds aside and say, "listen lady. you're sad because you lost a competition on national tv and my laptop and so your ego is pulsating. in three days, when you are falling down someone else's steps, you will be fine. you didn't love brad." in the meantime, their confusion between game-show contestant and future mrs. brad makes for a great 42 minutes.
i haven't been this stoked about a glorified dating game since the jesse palmer bachelor incident of season five.
don't get me wrong. this isn't my only reality tv interest: i'm thoroughly enjoying this season of the hills. and real world: sydney has it's moments -- as long as they don't include parissa. newport harbor was okay, but the selected someone not quite vindictive enough as a star. in fact, the show has been over for two weeks and i can't remember anyone's names, but would still order a "team kristin" shirt from season one of laguna beach if the opportunity presented itself.
i am exactly reality television's target market. i am a certified gawker. or, as the ladies of lourdes high school ['94] liked to call me when i turned around to ogle the blue hairs creating a ruckus in the back of the church with their electric wheel chairs and tin walker-clanging, i'm a rubber necker. for me, the only thing better than a teen drama with witty dialogue, an emo soundtrack and a heroine with a fantastic swath of bouncy hair, is reality tv. i could bore a hole through a fourth-street domestic. and so, when its equivilent crops up on my tv or laptop -- pass the wheat thins and a chunk of sharp cheddar and block all incoming calls. i'm all eyes-and-ears for the next 42 [or 17, as the case may be] minutes. just let me slip into my clownish pajama pants.
this all started with eric nies and season one of the real world in 1992. he was endlessly fascinating right up until he segued into hosting "the grind." but seeing real people on tv, scripted or unscripted, was an amazing thing for me. [my landlord always says "real world, my ass. more like fake world." this, if you know or do not know my landlord, is a classic quote.]
i remember that one disappointing thing about turning 25 was realizing i'd missed the window on becoming a real world cast member. then i found the internet, posted a few drunk photos of myself, and decided that was good enough.
chuck: i had a [weird] dream. me: really? because i had a halo 3 dream. chuck: you win. go ahead. me: [pause] i don't even know what halo 3 is. ... i just dreamt that i was going around picking up free halo 3 action figures, kinda like they were those free itunes from starbucks. ... oh, wait. i know why i had this dream. it is because i was reading wil wheaton's blog yesterday! chuck: you just said "halo 3," "action figures," "wil wheaton" and "blog" in the same paragraph.
here i pretend like i'm going to actually eat this dirty sexy cakey bread substance.
every once in awhile, something comes along and you struggle to answer the question: is this really awesome, or is this totally disgusting? as strange as it seems, some things are so one-or-the-other that it is impossible to discern which extreme it actually is.
in high school we had a name for boys who fell into this specific genre. they were dirty sexy. if a boy was dirty sexy, you wanted to make out with him despite the fact that he seemingly washed his hockey hair in a vat of french fry grease and you aren't completely sure that the acne boils on his chin won't explode on contact. yet, there was something a little hot about him, so you if given the option you would definitely risk a grease and puss-stained shirt.
blue cheese is dirty sexy. you are literally eating rancid cheese, something you would throw away if you found it beneath the seat of your car or between your toes. but it tastes good, hearty and strong flavored. or does it taste good? my own body odor comes to mind as something i enjoy but am disgusted by. i went through a span of time this summer when a foamy bar of caress soap made me smell exactly the opposite of how i wanted to smell [ie: clean]. it was so terrible that it was great. throw a short run into the mix, and the magic really happens. or something.
the writings of chuck palahniuk are dirty sexy. some people have passed out when he reads the short story "guts" aloud. yet, so intreguing when the guy gnaws through his own intestine to avoid drowning ...
i bet that mushrooms fall into this dirty sexy category. but, as i will never consciously eat one on purpose and if one sneaks into my food on accident I WILL KNOW, we may never know for sure if they are dirty sexy. when you dissected a frog in 10th grade? dirty. sexy. eating a fried egg sandwich for dinner five nights in a row? sexy. sexy. sexy. sexy. UGH, DIRTY SEXY!
juicing, i've found in the past few days, is dirty sexy. i'm waffling: i can't tell if i love it or hate it -- and by "it" i'm talking about everything that happens from the moment i flip the switch until i finish drinking the 40 dollars worth of produce i've purchased in the past three days. i already know that cleaning the juicer is not dirty sexy, it is simply a multifaceted pain in the ass. [on sunday, in my first go round with the juicer, i was so in awe of the whirring and juicing, that i forgot to put a glass to catch the juice beneath the spout. this resulted in raspberry-colored art on my countertop, stove, floor and shirt. this was just plain, old dirty.]
parts of juicing simultaneously fascinate me and creep me out. for instance, jamming a carrot into the juicer makes a sound that is a little too similar to the sound of my finger falling into the juicer. and where does all that carrot juice come from? carrots do not strike me as a juicy vegetable. i've never, like, eaten a carrot and had to wipe orange stains from my chin. yet, one carrot makes a decent amount of liquid. this makes me think my finger would, too.
apples are the most pedestrian thing to juice. almost every recipe calls for at least two apples and there is nothing really significant about liquifying them. pears are a little more satisfying, but not much. blueberries are disgusting. they leap out of the chute, they splatter. it looks like a crime scene. lemons are decent, but don't take long enough to really settle in and enjoy. cranberries are about perfect. for some reason, oranges make me gag. today i juiced a half inch of ginger root, which reminded me of sushi, which is -- a dirty sexy food i like to eat and not drink.
as for the taste: more confusion. i think i like it. but why am i wincing, damn-near plugging my nose like a first-time beer drinker? especially today when i created something lime green out of two apples, two pears, the aforementioned ginger root and a dash of cinnamon. these all taste good. and they taste good juiced. but drinking it felt like a chore.
yesterday i made something with carrots and apples and cranberries and whatever else. i took the left over pulp and skin and grated stuff, mixed it up with flour, baking soda, baking powder, eggs, etc., and decided to see if i could accidentally turn dirty sexy juice cremains into a fantastic cakey bread-like substance. kind of delicious. kind of nauseating.
it didn't rise. it stayed moist. the flavor: meh. i can't tell if i like that, either.
at the height of the bath & body works phenominon of the mid-1990s, i was pretty into fresia and sunflower, but willing to experiment with cool cucumber. the smell in my dorm, dowling hall, was as thick as the pasty lotion with which we all regularly basted ourselves.
"you smell like ketosis," my friend basil used to tell me, making a face as i lubed my body to greasy perfection. ketosis, she explained, smelled like rotting fruit. anorexic women, she said, emitted this smell from their emaciated bodies. basil had learned this in a science class at winona cotter high school. i wasn't anorexic. i had a meal plan. and every holiday i received at least three plastic bottles of ketosis.
basil favored the natural smell of an armpit after basketball practice. she considered me "girly" which is more of a testament to her own non-girly nature. basil considered any woman who was not dressed in a combination of mesh and nylon to be fragile and prissy.
basil was harsh and hot-headed, smart and controversial. she inspired varying degrees of hatred from almost everyone but me. she was a horror behind the wheel, and didn't seem to understand the scientific ramification of an escort versus a semi.
basil was my only friend because i met her on the second day of school and the entire thing completely taxed my ability to make other friends. and she had one other friend besides me, a woman named newman, whom basil bequeathed to to me when she decided to transfer to st. ben's after freshman year. by then the entire basketball team wanted to one-by-one punch her in the face; the boys in ireland hall had banned her from certain parties.
so newman and i forged a desperation friendship, deciding we would hang out with each other and figure out why later. newman was quirky, with a dry sense of humor. hard working. a little socially awkward. very specific. sophomore year she came to me with a complaint about her roommate:
"tracy is wearing plumeria," newman said. "i friggin' hate plumeria. the smell makes me sick. i have to tell her she can't wear it anymore."
in those days, people were pretty loyal to their shade of bath & body works. this seemed like a conversation with one roommate that would result in weekly counciling with the resident advisor and the backlash of the 40 other women sharing our floor who would eventually hear about the confrontation in the study lounge or while waiting to shower. you can't just, like, tell someone to stop wearing plumeria just because they share a bunk bed with you. this injustice would cause some serious chaffing.
when tracy would leave the room, newman would scrunch her nose and say, "do you smell that? seriously, i'm getting a headache."
i didn't notice.
newman's hate for plumeria had psychotic side effects. plumeria brought out her inner edgar allen poe. by the time we had moved into a house on fairview ave., she could pinpoint plumeria pockets wafting from women in her education classes; she could detect it in the cafeteria and library. it went unsaid that none of her five roommates should even consider a dollop of plumeria, let alone sample it at the mall of america. let me tell you: in the late 90s you would be hard pressed to take a pack of six women and not find at least one drenched in plumeria.
plumeria was a pretty popular gift in those days. nothing said "merry christmas, i don't know you very well" like a bottle of plumeria. i got an eight ouncer from one of oneniner's sisters. i didn't tell newman; i squirreled way the bottle in my bedroom far from the freakish strength of her nose. i didn't wear it, though. not even in river falls, wisconsin for a track meet. not even when i was home for thanksgiving. i was scared to even open the bottle, even though i liked ketosis.
newman moved out of the house after our junior year, to an apartment with her sister. we had been planning to ask her to move out anyway, because the bath & body works situation became other situations which gave birth to more situations and eventually she holed up in her bedroom with a case of diet coke and watched tv in her robe until the semester was over, coming into the livingroom to ask us to be quiet, or to please not do laundry anytime after the six o'clock news.
by then i'd started wearing plumeria. just to piss her off.
i've come to dread the moments when bubbles and jcrew together approach me. its like, if you take their brains and clink them together, an idea for a wine and cheese party pokes its dewy little head from a shell and proceeds to peck out your eyeballs. they will say a date, perhaps even divvy up the who-brings-what and who-to-invite. then they give you a hard, expectant look until you mumble something about "brie?" or "smoked salmon?" and then they look harder and you realize this isn't what they want.
you can promise all the accutrements in the world. what they really want is for me to host the damn thing.
"absolutely, not," i say.
there isn't a vaccum cleaner powerful enough, a version of 409 potent enough, an elbow greasy enough for me to clean my apartment to wine party standards. and its not like either of these receive mail at a yurt and are showering in the bathroom at walmart. they have homes.
"i guess i can have it," bubbles sighs. "i'll have to clean." by all means, clean, young bubbles. its a lot more convenient than each of us getting tetanus shots and then afterbarring in a chemical bath just for a few hours of "fun" at my place.
i never get excited about a wine and cheese party. this is residual from the wine and cheese parties of yesteryear, when the girl posse decided that they didn't want me swilling natty light out of stemmed glass and topping gourmet crackers with individually wrapped packets of american cheese. [these, by the way, taste much better when you rub them against your leg to bring them closer to room temperature. trust me]. in those days i would belly up to the bar with the boys and tell them all about how i didn't want to go to that dumb ole fem con wine party anyway. i slurred with such conviction that, to this day, i still believe that.
i always enjoy wine parties, once i'm there and about two glasses of red and one stained tongue deep. getting there is the struggle. and when i picked up jcrew last night, she seemed to share my disdain for all things fermented and grapey. we tried to out-dour the other, with dueling sighs and eye rolls.
for me, this had nothing to do with anything. i like the host and the other invited guests. i like wine. i like cheese. i do not like knowing on a tuesday that i have plans to drink on saturday. i would prefer to live my life and accidentally stumble upon a wine party that is not in my living room on a saturday. as with most things i have to do -- even the fun ones -- i spend the rest of the week resenting this event. right up until the moment my blood starts carting the alcohol toward my major organs. then i start wishing that every second of everyday was one giant wine night.
and as for jcrew, the eye rolling is as involuntary as the "what?!" when you look at her wrong.
*** it was fun. i can't lie. a perfect mix of silly conversation, a really creamy brie, and jcrew's new friendship with a porchful of skateboarders, all while no one watched a baseball game on the tv in the background. chuck and i left around 2 a.m., quickly, while jcrew spat insults at us as we sprinted out the door. this is how you say "goodbye" after a night of drinking, in her language.
about an hour later my phone rang, and it was my little friend on the phone. in her most polite voice, jcrew said: "hello. i'd like a cab, please, to [blank-oh-blank blank blank ]street?" "what?" i said. "i'd like a cab, please?" she said again. "jcrew, it's me," i said. "excuse me?" she said, still polite and serene. "it's me, not a cab company," i told her. she said something naughty and hung up on me. as if i had stolen a cabbie's phone and then had the audacity to answer it when she called. the nerve.
as i was leaving arby's, a handful of college-aged kids [at left] mock attacked this non gender specific mascot. they either hit him/her in the mouth, or uterus. it is so hard to tell sometimes.
the line of cars twisted halfway around the building, like one of those magnetic healing bracelets. people were damn-near tailgating in the parking lot, swinging red and white bags bulging with variations on roast beef and bun. on arrowhead, car after car after car, a strobe of left blinkers.
so. we got an arby's, which i guess means we are one culinary step closer to being recognized as a suburb of minneapolis. i haven't seen the pedestrians rally this merrily since the day the sky opened and dropped an olive garden atop a hill by the mall.
i wasn't intimately acquainted with the time table for arby's construction. but, as this new fast food restaurant is in jcrew's voting district, she informed me yesterday that NATIONAL ARBY'S COMES TO DULUTH DAY had finally arrived. we spent 7 minutes discussing what she was going to shove in her face for dinner, complete with nutritional information. [jcrew's sixth sense is that she can immediately tell you how many calories you are holding in your hand, and what percent of said calories are fat calories. this is why i only eat water in front of her]. later, she called to tell me she had aborted the plan because she refused to stand in line for an hour.
"seriously," she said. "it looks like someone opened a dollar store in central hillside."
me? i have on occasion veered off the highway in blaine for a quick gnosh. and when i lived in rochester, i have a vivid memory of sitting in an arby's parking lot and satiating pre-menstral cravings with fistfulls of jalapino bites. and, okay fine, i've driven 40 minutes to the outskirts of superior so that soothing arby's dinner-mitt mascot -- or whatever the hell it is -- could massage my alcohol-stained liver. but i don't need an arby's, per se. what i neeeeed is a bagal shop that stays open late.
chuck, it turns out, had never been to an arby's. nor was he aware of the extensive appetizer menu or that an arby's sauce-horsey sauce combo oozing from your roast beef sandwich has all the delicious pagentry of a christmas parade IN YOUR MOUTH!
then, as i tried to sell arby's to him, i accidentally sold it to myself.
it is amazing to me, the events that will draw duluthians away from college week on wheel of fortune. for instance, there were more dull-eyed zombies trolling the perimeter of arby's tonight than for a pretty drunk rock the block last august. [maybe cars and trucks should start tossing out packets of horsey sauce from the stage].
arby's was chaos. dozens of people holding the equivilent of lottery numbers, waiting for their orders. one barking auctionier, i assume the manager, flapping his arms and calling out to the winners. i ordered two roast beef sandwiches and an order of cheese sticks. it was a bit spendy. i looked at my receipt and thought: i knew i should have gone to thai krathong.
i've discovered an underground super secret society. they call themselves "juicers" and they liquify things. you don't have to look for them. just mention you are interested in drinking carrots and they will hunt you down.
a few days ago punk rock girl and i were discussing my new concession to breakfast: naked juice. this is one pound of fruit, 300 calories of drinkable food that i can actually consume before 4 p.m. without fearing i will eventually regurgetating my own stomach lining.
punk rock girl and i had matching bottles of the flavor red machine. she told me she isn't as into blue machine, i told her that the green flavor tastes good but looks like you are lapping scumb from your toilet bowl, so you have to close your eyes to drink it. she told me the protein flavor is grainy. i assume that is the ground up chicken parts. and here i casually mentioned that i was interested in buying a juicer, so i could make my own naked juice.
two days later, our mutual friend the norwegian wonder is hauling a 25 pound, multi gadgeted, appliance from her back seat and into my open arms. this thing is intense. it could kick my blender's ass in an appliance showdown. it would choke hold a bread machine. it could probably put up a good fight against a refrigerator. about the only true, undeniable champion would be a cement mixer, but seriously: that matchup is completely unrealistic.
"i really liked it," norwegian wonder says, handing me an informative video. "but [husband] just wasn't supportive."
i can imagine that introducing this juicer to a kitchen would require an entirely new set of shelving. perhaps even its own wheeled kiosk, or a revamped electrical outlet system. perhaps deep dialogue for the parties involved:
"seriously," the norwegian wonder confessed. "you have to both be on board. it's like going to whole foods."
as for me, i have a tiny kitchen. adapting to a juicer lifestyle will mean unplugging my toaster oven while holding my coffee grinder and shoving celery stocks down a shoot, all while fending off the neglected advances of you-know-who: toonses.
the norwegian wonder had been hoping to sell her mammoth piece of juicer at a garage sale. and so, when she handed it to me, it still had a sticker on it that said $40. and honestly, this thing is worth at least three times that much.
"do you want 40 dollars?" i asked her. "meh," she made a face. "it needs to go to a good home. if you use it and want to donate something eventually, meh." norwegian wonder is a little layed back.
"i got a juicer!" i told chuck. "i'm going to juice your finger!" "you should juice a squirrel," he said. "gross," i said.
"hey," dude's wife sent me a message. "if you are getting into juicing, you should talk to dude."
man, word travels fast in this cult.
today the norwegian wonder gave me a book on juicing called "the juicers bible." this book talks about food, ailments, and what foods to mash in your juicer to fix what ails your hangover or urinary tract infection. [i'm sure there are other disease cures, i just didn't read them yet as these are my favorite.]
later the norwegian wonder gave me a free monthlong pass to anytime fitness, and taught me to knit the norwegian way. then she gave me a handful of craisins.
"you know i already like you, right?" i told me friend. "my friendship is yours." she laughed. and then i thought: true, in this case we are already friends. and eventually i'll donate for the juicer. but if we weren't friends, we would be now.
this is the face of a miss. this is also a gratuitious shot of me to prove that occasionally i wash my hair. granted, i used VO5, but it still said shampoo on the bottle. right under the thing that says 89 cents.
i was at starbucks yesterday, picking up a large coffee and cramming the pockets of my hoodie with free itunes. on my way out, i ran into a woman i know and her wee child. we exchanged starbuckian pleasantries, then she introduced me to her daughter:
"this is my daughter [wee child]," she said. the wee child looked up at me. "[wee child], this is miss [pista]," she said -- although using my real last name.
i thought she was just being cute with this miss business. giving me a little nickname. like how if, hypothetically, on my first day of in-car drivers' ed training i hypothetically ran a red light. the instructor slammed on her custom-made passenger-side brake, earning us both a sash of horizontal seat belt bruising, then turned to me and and, hypothetically, said:
"that little manuever, missy, would have cost you your liscense!"
or, like, if your mom met you on the front steps on her way to work in the morning, and you were just sneaking in after falling asleep at your boyfriends' house and you were 24ish, she might spit between clenched teeth:
"listen here, miss christa. i don't know what you heathens were up to, but us catholics are home by at least by 2 a.m."
so we continued chatting, then i left -- rich with free downloads -- and it took me a block to realize: hey. wait. i am miss pista. if you are a wee child and you meet me -- an adult, according to my birth certificate and intolerance of super loud music and super spicy chili -- i am miss pista.
this is the first time i've ever been introduced to someone as miss pista. as you know, i'm not a teacher or regularly in trouble with the law -- as far as the law knows. i'm not usually assigned a title, per se. even when i'm subscribing to something new or filling out forms at urgent care, i tend to gloss over the whole miss, mrs., ms. portion of the paperwork. i'm sure in sixth grade, i probably refered to myself as christa l. pista, esquire. but that was just hommage to bill and ted's excellent adventure. but that was a phase. like this whole blogging thing.
this miss thing wasn't insulting. it wasn't like being ma'am-ed. it was more like wearing a training bra for the first time:
a) a little itchy b) a sign of support c) something my grandpa would laugh about d) something i could shed when i got home.
i don't know why this is so strange. the teaching of manners to children. despite the fact that i can burp "thank you" i, too, was taught manners. if i were at a slumber party at fannies' parents house and we were giggling too loudly and her mom came downstairs to shush us, i'd say: "sorry, mrs. mcfanster."
or, if i was at a stoplight exhaling camel light, and turned and saw princess linda's mom at the light next to me, i'd cough, throw the cigarette and say to myself: sheeeeet. mrs. princess linda just saw me smoking.
and actually, it is worse than that. my mom fixed my aunt up with my high school track coach -- a man i'd known for years as mr. miller. they got married when i was in college, and to this day we have this exchange every time we see each other:
me: hi mr. miller. mr. miller: christa. you can call me [first name] me: okay, mr. miller.
i am in creepy stalker love with the pier one cutting board i got for my birthday. i could whittle away the mount royal produce department on this sucker. i tried to touch it as much as possible on monday, first chopping the contents of my refrigerator in half, throwing it into a bowl and topping it with seeds of change italian vinegarette, then breaking out in a separation anxiety rash when i had to move away from the cutting board.
later, i made gnocchi for an excuse to give the cutting board a floury handed rub down. this gnocchi-making may be my favorite thing i've created so far in this whole learning-to-cook part of my on-going personal evolution. first of all, hand mashing potatoes is a good way to distract yourself while season four of the OC drones on in the background, deviating so far off course that it begins to resemble passions.
plus, if you are proned to globs of hubris, i got to press my own little knuckle print into each tiny nose-sized piece of potato pasta. i hope cooking never becomes less fun than this. i'd hate to imagine a world where i make something that i don't brag about.
[i didn't take a photo of the gnocchi. it tasted better than it looked. apparently i'm not a gnocchi artist. but look at that salad! weee!]
just before christmas when i was in eighth grade, i decided that i was going to like dougy-buns. i say "decided" because there was no rational reason to like dougy-buns. i doubt i had ever talked to him, so there wasn't a sort of "are you there god, it's me margaret?"-caliber of hormonal explosion; we didn't, like, work on a science fair project together where he won me over with a styrofoam solar system and his mom's rice krispie bars.
dougy-buns was a grade younger, a foot shorter than me. a freckle-faced, perminantly blushing blond. a decent point guard. a tenor in the pop choir.
love had been a little bit hard on me. my motive for liking dougy-buns was likely two-fold: a) i wanted a boyfriend candidate who would need no coaxing to like me in return. someone who would realize that my status as an eighth grader was reason enough; b) i hoped i was unearthing the NEXT BIG COOL THING before it was the NEXT BIG COOL THING, which would deem me a sort of NEXT BIG COOL THING roullette master.
my friends were not impressed with who i had decided to like. none of dougy-buns' friends were connected to mine; actually, no one of knew him at all.
"you are not allowed to like dougy-buns," fannie told me, my resale value clearly at stake. "just get it out of your head right now." "but --" i persisted. showed the beginnings of a life as a petulant teen. "don't even look at him," she said.
my friends kept a tally sheet on neva's desk. i was allowed to look at dougy-buns no more than 15 times through the course of the day: while passing in the halls, in the cafeteria, during pop choir, before basketball practice. hash marks carved violently into the wide ruled paper every time i looked in his direction. if i hit 16 glances, something yet-to-be-determined was going to happen. nothing yet-to-be-determined was going to keep me from slow dancing with dougy-buns during the christmas dance in the basement of pax christie. my romantic, all consuming spindly armed bear hug, his little towhead pressed against my very sharp clavical. adam's parent's -- the dj's for every dance -- dimming the lights and slowing things down with "toy soldiers" by martika.
so i looked at him 16,17, maybe even 18 times that day. my friends were forced to live with it.
after some note passing and awkward seven minute phone calls, a double date was arranged. me and dougy-buns, fannie and dougy-buns' best friend, a seventh-grader whom i believe was actually older than us. [he may have even had his drivers' permit]. stocky with kinky black hair and dark eyes. more attractive than he technically should have been, considering half of his face was scrunched together like he had suffered a stroke, his cheek smiling, his right eye in a perma-wink.
we called him "utah jeff" because his face was shaped like the state.
we went to the movie "christmas vacation" at the barclay square theater. i remember only three things about the movie: a) chevy chase taking a digger off the roof while he is hanging christmas lights; b) little dougy-buns, feet barely touching the ground, one arm slung awkwardly over my shoulders, his hand in the natural half-claw resting postion -- centimeters from my right breast; c) the unbridled hilarity that utah jeff and fannie were experiencing via whispers and nudges and pointing at dougy-buns' dangling hand. how he was damn-near to second base, without yet being up to bat.
back at school that monday, i received a note from dougy-buns while we were passing in the hallway between classes. it was folded like a football. the first paragraph contained pleasantries; the second said: sorry i touched your tit at the movie.
a few days later we were in the gym at st. pius, waiting for the seventh grade boys to finish basketball practice so we could begin our practice. fannie wrote on the chalk board: dougy-buns touched christa's tit. everyone laughed. i dove for the eraser.
the next day at school i found out that dougy-buns' dad had been standing next to us, waiting in the red out-of-bounds paint, watching dougy-buns practice being a decent point guard.
the pax christie dance came about two weeks into our relationship. dougy-buns and i would probably finally kiss. first we ignored each other all night, then my friends cleared out the girls bathroom for us. i waited in the largest stall. they dragged dougy-buns in from off the dance floor. then they left us alone.
i looked at dougy-buns. he looked at his feet. i looked at my feet. we talked about school.
i couldn't do it. i left the bathroom, he filed out soon after. i'm not sure that we ever officially broke up, or if i told him in my own football-shaped note passed in the hallway before classes. or maybe it was just understood after the failed liplock in the bathroom stall. or maybe he is just reading about it here, now.
anyway, i found this photo of dougy-buns while i was writing this post. i have no idea how old it is, but this is pretty much what he looked like as a seventh grader, minus the facial hair.
nothing jacks up the weekend intregue like having a boyfriend whose observation deck overlooks three consecutive party houses, with another high-traffic apartment within craning distance.
friday night we were minding our own business, watching ole bionic boobs on tivo. i was couching off the indulgences of thursday night and fantasizing that i could recreationally run 60 miles per hour and do one-armed pull ups. and how, if i could, not a single day -- nay, hour -- would pass without me slipping into spandex and showing off these freakish bar tricks.
[actually, now that i think about it, we were watching another painful episode of heroes. but my opinion on bionic woman stands.]
the mediocrity was interupted by what sounded like auditions for riverdance on his porch; what sounded like the season-finale of real world duluth in the street. college drama will always trump heroes, as long as hiro is stuck in japan in the 1600s.
to the best of my powers of assumption, some 19-year-old girls had repeatedly miscalculated the diet coke-to-bacardi-ratio. one floppy amoeba of party house two had gone into party house one and had been a) not invited or b) breached some sort of underaged social code. she was physically banished from party house one by a banshee who's friends were trying to contain her flailing limbs. the amoeba was sopped up and poured into party house two. doors slammed. octives were acheived. and within minutes, sobs were drunkenly exaggerated through an open window in party house two.
things had just settled down and porch lights were dimmed when two police cars came around the corner in stealth mode: no headlights, two wheels on the curb, one plain clothes officer and two uniformed cops. they had a brief discussion with the guy who had apparently called the police and approached party house two.
they pounded on the door for five minutes before some little abercrombie weasel came downstairs, stood behind the locked front door and refused to open it. "just a second," abercrombie said, disappeared upstairs and did not return. meanwhile, the cops stood on the porch, spurned girl scouts.
meanwhile, stragglers from the distant party house four were stumbling around with open beer cans. one tried to get into his car.
"nice beer can," a cop yelled, pointing his flashlight at the kid. "i know, thanks," the kid said. "you've got to be kidding me," the cop said and went tearing after him. soon he was spread eagle, leaned up against a car.
here i tuned back into the cops at party house two, telling the abercrombie weasel that they "had all night" to stand on the porch.
[according to my math, "all night" is approximately 20 minutes in copese]
in the meantime, old spread eagle had dumped his beer and gotten permission to retrieve a cigar from his car. another open bottle had wandered into the street and when the cops shined a light on him he looked scared and shitfaced and raised his arms in the Y of surrender.
i cackled with delight.
and then along came another, who apparently told the police that he didn't have an id on him. they guided him back to the police car and then he remembered that he had an id. he blew .12 in the breathalizer, but apparently was of a legal age. he was released.
back at party house two, a policeman was digging through the mailbox. a girl in a halter top from party house three came running out of her house, obviously en route to the other house. saw the policemen. stopped. spun back into party house three.
finally, the policemen left. eventually more boys appeared. the doors opened. everyone stood on the front steps discussing what had unfolded with the "five-oh" as the abercrombie weasel called them. there was a lot of pointing. bravado spilled in the streets. hands were shaken. backs patted.
it made me feel old to be cheering for the strong arm of the law. then chuck reminded me that if we were truly old, we would not have enjoyed the show so much.
i am sitting in the first stall in the bathroom at quinlin's, one beer deep into the night, when i get this thought:
oh my, i'm BIRTHDAY drunk.
this is uncomfortable, as it is only about 11 p.m. and unsettling because -- like i said -- i've had just one drink, and an untruth because i actually did not get this drunk even on my birthday.
i've not been drinking much lately. drinking seems to contort my urinary tract into a throbbing twist of arthritic wiring. drinking demands two days of bedrest and two days of bed sores. drinking makes me rue the human body's comparative lack of orifaces from which to expel the evil. this is especially frustrating because while i lay in bed moaning and begging for someone, anyone to shove chicken nuggets into my most dominant vein, chuck is able to yawn off a night, chuckling. he has consumed a pot of coffee, read the internet -- and contributed to the internet -- showered and done a handful of small chores. i'm still trying to understand what the hell my elbows are for.
chuck says that apparently my body does not process alcohol well. i like this. it gives a scientific validity to my need for pizza man pizza.
in the interim, my tolerance has gone the way of the rotary phone. just the idea of going out affected my reality with the potentcy of a luke warm 40 ouncer of miller high life.
whatever. so we went to quinlan's on thursday night. this was my first social experiment with the smoking ban. i liked it. everytime i went outside to nip on a camel lite, i made a new friend.
there was this guy: "tell chuck i have a painting for him." and this girl: "my name is madeline. maddy. mad-dog. whatever."
by the end of the night i'd had three beers. and these beers are like the looney. while it used to take about six to get the job started, three finished me off easily.
i woke at 11 a.m. convinced that i was still drunk. "you aren't drunk," chuck told me. "you went to bed 9 hours ago! you haven't had a beer in 10 hours!" "whatever," i said.
i woke again at 3 p.m. groaning with horror. "you can't be hung over," chuck deduced. "seriously. you slept like 13 hours. you only had THREE beers!" [later he would concede that he could still smell the alcohol steaming in my pores.]
this happened thursday night: seadawg gave us a ride home. he, like anyone who drives us home, had the foresight to stop at the ghetto spur. we walked inside and two men were eating what i believed to be a hotdog. i came at them with my gaping mouth unhinged. "can i have a bite?" i asked them. chuck grabbed my arm and yanked me away. "you don't know where that's been," he said. the men cackled. we bought old dutch party mix, vitamin water, burritos. i fell down in the parking lot.
today i recieved the lien for my car in the mail: i am the proud owner of a newborn five-year-old honda civic and the toaster oven that has been in the trunk for, oh, say four point eight years. this means that, if i want, i can finally have the REO speedwagon logo airbrushed on the driver side door.
last weekend i was backing out of a parking space and t-boned a parked car, while its owners were blissfully unaware. they were clawing lamb meat from their teeth and filling a dumpster with tzatziki and fushia lipstick soaked napkins. i was doing an all-clear cursory glance over my right shoulder, while over my left i was trying to leave civic stains over their back tire.
i heard a crunch. i gasped. i looked at chuck. he looked at me. we turned around and the honda was butted up against a small white car in a sort of convuluted positioning that should not be seen outside of stargate's dance floor on new year's eve.
we are talking AT LEAST third base here.
there is that brief moment when you suspect that you may have mangled someone's property where you look in your rear view mirror and think: sheeeet. i better haul ass on outta here. you know, seek asylum on the safe side of the bong bridge. those old cluckers will never know what hit them, although with some elementary detective work, they may guess it was red. instead, i sighed. disengaged. put my car in park and checked out the damage. nothing. nada. finito.
i ran inside to tell the owner, who: a) asked me why i couldn't have hit the car in a previously dented bumper blemish; b) flecked away at the white paint i had gotten on my car; c) waved from the parking lot as i fled superior city limits.
this is the second time in three months that i've nailed a parked car without damaging either vehicle. it may be time to put a little post it note on my dashboard that says:
CHRISTA! you are driving your car! if you can read this, you are erroneously believing that you are the passenger. again. pay attention!
both times, the impact caused a horrific crunch -- and the whooshing of my deductible deflating my life's savings. both times i've been pleasantly surprised that nothing happened. that we are all driving around in $14,000 rubbermade containers and recreationally plowing them into each other. letting them bounce back to their original shape and in the meantime, keep cool things cool and hot things hot.
the last time it was my eccentric next-door neighbor's car. i'd left a note and my phone number, knowing that the damage was nothing that three juvenile hose specialists at the london road car wash could not spray away.
still, eccentric neighbor called my number and asked me a lot of suspicious questions about where i live and my hobbies and the make and model of my car and what i was wearing if i'm gullible and believe that these ruffies in his palm are really flintstones vitamins.
the kind of stuff you only tell strangers on the internet, not the phone.
i skated around all but my first name. "well ... i'm going to have to take it around to some body shops tomorrow to get some estim --" he started to hoodwink me. "that's not going to be necessary, i bet," i interupted him. "my boyfriend took photos of the damage, and it looked like i maybe got some paint on your fender." "well ... uh ... hmmm," he said. "i guess i'll look at it again tomorrow ..." "okay, bye," i said. "but how will i get ahold of you? where do you live? do you have an email address? how will i tell you what they say at the body shop?" he panicked. "um ... sir? you have my phone number," i reminded him. i never heard from him again. in fact, it rained that night, so his car probably looked better than before i hit it.
on saturday chuck and i spent 45 minutes discussing the value of the plate of cafeteria food he had purchased at the damn-near-stealing price of $4.90: mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese with tiny chunks of ham, and a plop of salisbury steak.
i sampled the mac and cheese and it tasted like a bear hug and sway to a fleetwood mac song in the rain. we considered the impossibility of hot food for under five dollars, how this plate of food -- if purchased in the whole foods deli -- would cost three times as much. how a person should really eat more cafeteria food. and how, like, if he wasn't going to lick that plate, did he mind if i took a few laps around the edges? then, when the topic came up again about two hours later, i stopped mid-rave to say:
"wait. we have been talking about the cost effectiveness of cafeteria food for a grand total of 45 minutes today."
he thought about it for a second and agreed that, this time, i wasn't even exaggerating.
this, and other evidence, suggests that i have segued into early onset frugality. i like when i go through surprising new phases. makes me think that maybe someday i'll be a neat-freak, exercise fanatic, tv abhoring, country music-trilling, cat-loving, oragami folding, eye-shadow-wearing, YMCA youth-mentoring, teetotaler with a keen eye for spelling errors.
we have begun watching season one of northern exposure on dvd. the first disc had just two episodes, so we travelled to each of the video stores where we are members-in-bad-standing [read: fine havers] looking for more episodes to fill in the gaps until more netflix arrive. unfortunately there must not be a call for early 1990s programming among the local population of elite dvd marathoners. so we eventually bought a season one-season two value pack last nite.
"hmmm ..." i said, surveying the back of the box as we walked to the cash register. "11 hours of episodes. ... lower than normal. but it comes out to approximately 4 dollars an hour of tv -- divided by two ... i'd pay 2 dollars an hour to watch 'northern exposure.' "
say, what? math and frugality in the same sentence? the only thing weirder would have been if i started it with the phrase "hail mary."
whatever. that price made it sound reasonable, if you can ignore that it made me sound like a penny pinching whack job. or, as chuck says, a scrimper -- which is not nearly as endearing as "crabass." thank god this "scrimping" is just a weird phase.
later, we were at niko's picking up gyros. i stood in the parking lot and noticed a penny in gravel. a few feet away, a dime. i picked them both up out of the wet dirt and buffed them on my jeans. i smiled and showed my loot to chuck through the window.
"what if i found 11 cents a day?" i asked him later. "11 cents a day ... "
my mind raced with possability.
i wonder if it would be cost-effective to get a metal detector?