Saturday, December 30, 2006

:<) :<) :<) (>:

To some of my very favorite people!

I hope 2007 brings peace to all our nations, and joy and healing to each of us.

Let us do and be the best we can, and live this year as if it were our last. (While hoping it isn't.)

New Year's Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
~Mark Twain

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.
~Oscar Wilde

New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.
~James Agate

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.
~Anais Nin

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.
~John Burroughs

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
~Oprah Winfrey

Exorcism For Dummies

It is now possible to buy holy drinking water, blessed by priests. The company producing it makes it clear that drinking their water is no substitute for going to church, but does make this claim: "From the River of Living Water flows 'Holy Bottled Water Inc.' produced by man under the inspiration of God because water is twice as valuable as oil.

Wash away your sin and your thirst at the same time. The blessing does not take away from the taste. Holy Bottled Water washes away the sins of anyone feeling less than saintly while quenching your thirst like nothing else can. Your immediate redemption and satisfaction are guaranteed.

As Holy Bottled Water is up to 4 times as powerful as the leading competitor, it is important that it be used in a manner consistent with its indications for use, otherwise one risks Eternal Damnation. The following are some simple instructions to avoid unwanted consequences:

Before consumption as a beverage, it is wise to sprinkle a few drops of water on the person's body (NOT THE FACE as this could disfigure) to determine whether the subject is under the influence of Satan.

Some symptoms to watch out for:

1. If the drops sizzle or smoke when they touch the body, the subject is possessed by a demon. Call a priest for an immediate exorcism. Other signs of demonic possession include occasional touching of the genitals, bad breath, and breaking of wind with an odor that can only be described as coming from the depths of hell.

2. If the drops of Holy Bottled Water sprinkled on the subject saturate the clothing, but do not sizzle or smoke, then the subject can be considered free from demonic possession. However, the subject is still unprotected from the Grace of God and all his Mercy (Huh?) and should drink one bottle every 2 hours, testing by sprinkling more drops onto the body until such time as the drops of water no longer penetrate clothes. Note: It may take several months of celibacy to reach this level of perfection and protection.

Otherwise, drink Holy Bottled Water in good health and cheer, for special occasions or simply to chase the demons of thirst away."

I'll have what she's having.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Earthlink is the Devil's Spawn

Is the general level of intelligence declining, or have we always been so incompetent?

I canceled my Earthlink account on November 3rd, well in advance of the day they took their payment from my bank account on the 26th of every month. To protect myself, I also revoked their authorization at the bank. I wasn't always so smart. I learned the hard way, as is my wont, when I canceled AOL years ago but neglected to also tell the bank.

11 months later, when I actually looked at my bank statement, I noticed that AOL had continued to take their monthly payments all those months despite the fact that I canceled their services and there was no activity on the account. My bank informed me that they had never succeeded in getting money back from AOL for anybody, and would not even attempt it. (AOL conjures the forces of evil.)

Now Earthlink continues to bill me for my November payment. They have made wild threats against my credit record and good name. It is clear that they intend to disembowel me and drain all the blood from my lifeless body soon.

A person from their company even called a month ago, at first light, to demand payment. I explained the situation to her, several times, actually. I don't think she was listening. And then she said, "How would you like to make your payment?"

We went through it again. I was coffee'd up and ready to roll. I used smaller words. I spoke more slowly.

"How would you like to make your payment?" she said again. I hate talking to robots.

She said there was no record of my cancellation. I assured her that I had done so, albeit to their recording, and that I should not be penalized because THEY dropped the ball. Since it was my understanding that payments were for the coming month, not the previous one and I was not using Earthlink any longer, I owed nothing.

Despite my well-reasoned arguments, they continue to send me letters demanding payments which now include December. I tried to call them. They put me through the maze of narrowing down who, exactly, had the skills to help me best, and then played a recording that they-could-not-take-my-call-right-now-I-should-call-again-at-another-time. In a terminally perky voice, which led me to believe that they knew it was me, and were getting even.

When corporate entities become so big that they no longer employ real people with the capacity to think, we are all screwed. And that, my friends, spells Trouble. With a capital "T."

Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Yes, damnit. They should. When I'm done with a relationship, I'm done. Leave me alone. Do not call me. Do not dun me for money I don't owe.

Earthlink, you are dead to me. Stay dead, willya?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Love 'Em and Leave 'Em

The discarded Christmas trees are already beginning to appear on curbs around the city. Defrocked and abandoned ingloriously, they lie in wait like sad carcasses for the trash collectors. The same trees that were selected so carefully just days before now repose in disgrace, bits of tinsel still clinging to their branches a mere day after Christmas.

Man, that's cold. It's bad enough that they were chopped down in their prime, in some cases, their infancy, but to dispose of them so quickly, without ceremony, seems heartless.

I know most of them come from Christmas tree farms, but is that any better than killing minks who were grown for their pelts on so-called mink farms? I don't wear fur, either.

I think of Native American hunters who thanked an animal for "giving-away" for them after they killed it. When a plant was uprooted for food or medicine, they sprinkled a little tobacco in the cavity left in the ground as payment. They believed in giving something back for a life taken.

And so should we. There should be a ceremony for saying goodbye to a magnificent creation like a tree that added so much joy to our holiday, that suffered the indignity of being dressed in baubles while lighting up our living rooms and our hearts.

It doesn't seem right to come upon their sad hulks dragged to roadsides and dumpsters when their services are no longer needed. They should at least be recycled as landfill so their lives are more meaningful than this. We need to learn some respect.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Say What?

For weeks now, I've been hearing nothing but heartfelt wishes for everyone to have a beautiful holiday and love everybody and shit. It's beginning to get old already.

Don't they know it's all about the gift?

The upscale NYC menswear store Jack Spade removed from its holiday catalog a $40 frog-dissection kit (with a real carcass.) Can you believe some people objected?

The thing is, if you're yearning for a dead frog, nothing else will even remotely do. I sure hope Santa got mine before it became unavailable. I'm so looking forward to carving up a small animal after a nice Christmas dinner.

In further holiday developments, a 12-year old boy was arrested in South Carolina at the insistence of his mother after he defied her and opened his Christmas gift three weeks early.

Way to go, Mom. That'll teach the little miscreant a lesson he'll never forget. That kid will probably never even cross a double white line when he's old enough to drive. Oh, wait, he's doing life. He won't be driving at all. He'll certainly never defy his loving mama again. I wonder what the gift was. Probably a frog-dissection kit. The scalpel could come in handy in his new life.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Post Operative

My appendix burst at my friend Judy’s house on my eleventh birthday. At five o’clock in the morning I woke up vomiting in the bed I shared with her.

“Judy, I’m sick,” I whispered.

“Don’t wake up my parents,” she said, and went back to sleep.

Her father heard me in the bathroom and drove me home, leaving me in front of my house. I was not allowed to wake my parents on Sundays so I huddled on the doorstep for about three hours, vomiting into the rhododendrons that flanked the front stoop.

“I’m not sure it’s her appendix because the pain is in the middle, not on the right,” said the doctor, “but I think we should operate just to be safe.”

I wondered if he remembered making a house call when I was three to help my parents get some vile black medicine into me. He was on his way to a wedding, dressed in a white linen suit, his pretty blond wife Beryl waiting in the car for him.

“She won’t take it, Karl,” they said.

“Nonsense,” he replied. “Anyone can get medicine into a little girl.”

My mother held my legs, my father held my arms, and Dr. Karl inserted a teaspoon into my mouth. “There, you see,” he said. “Nothing to it.”

They removed their hands and I let go. The black liquid splattered on his blond hair and oozed into his neat mustache, down his collar and onto his suit.

Now I was eleven with a broken appendix, and I was scared he wanted to get even.

The nurses prepped me, a humiliating procedure. One slathered antiseptic shaving soap on my two or three wispy pubic hairs while the other said, giggling, “I bet she doesn’t have any yet.” Since I did, I felt that I had committed an indiscretion. I turned my head away and left my lower body to them.

When they had merrily defoliated me, they wheeled me to a room with the brightest light I had ever seen and slung me onto the operating table. The doctor was wearing a sort of space suit and mask which covered his face. I barely had time for one quick ragged concern that they’d start to cut before I was out when the ether swirled orange circles around me and I wasn't there anymore.

When I woke up, my belly hurt unbelievably. No one had mentioned this outcome. The doctor sauntered into my room and said, “You have to walk now.” He had the nerve to wink at me.

“No,” I told him.

He tried to pull me out of bed but I clung to the metal rails. “I can’t,” I whimpered. “It hurts.”

“If you don’t get up I’m going to light a fire under you,” he said.

“I thought this was a hospital,” I yelled. “You’re trying to kill me.” I couldn't believe anyone would treat a little girl like that.

The shaving nurses scurried into my room and stood there like twin bouncers, giggling in stereo. My parents weren’t there and I stepped down and slouched to a chair, holding my belly with both hands. The doctor didn’t even offer to give me back my appendix in a jar.

A few weeks later, I was allowed to attend my first slumber party. My friends promised my parents that they’d be gentle with me because I still had stitches in my stomach. The girls entertained themselves by having farting contests. I refused to participate, so they threw me in a cold shower for being a poor sport.

The next day, my mother asked about the party, and I described the farting game. As I’d never heard of any word for that particular bodily function before, I assumed it was a proper word.

Apparently it wasn’t. She smacked my face and invited my father to spank me for my dirty mouth, which he managed to do without opening up my stitches.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Lyric Meme

Velvet Girl has tagged me to do a Christmas song meme. If I understand correctly, I am to relate my doubts or difficulties with the lyrics to a popular carol.

"God rest ye merry gentlemen,
Let nothing ye dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray;"

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is offensive because (duh) it seems to be yet another little men's club in which women are non-existent. You don't hear them singing about God resting merry gentleWOMEN, now do you? I rest my case.

I mean, just for starters, c'mon, guys. If it hadn't been for Mary, who by all accounts was female, where would any of y'all be? Worshiping trees, that's where. Or (gasp,) goddesses. Maybe even worshiping goddesses in trees, for all I know. Please.

Also, the song implies that all men are sinners who follow Satan. I simply do not buy this. I have, myself, personally, known one or two men who did not follow Satan. They hadn't even gone astray, really. They just refused to ask directions.

And if you want to get technical, Christ was not born on Christmas Day. It BECAME Christmas Day After The Fact. Jeez.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is my other candidate:

"I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night
She didn't see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep:

She thought that I was tucked away
up in my bedroom fast asleep

Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
underneath his beard so snowy white;

Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night."

Well, I don't know where to begin.

First of all, Mommy should have Child Protective Services sicked on her immediately for exposing her child to her adulterous affair with a fat trespasser who spends most of his time sneaking down chimneys. While, presumably, her husband (remember him?) sleeps in his bed upstairs, confident that his entire world is not about to come crashing down upon him and his precious innocent progeny.

Obviously Mommy is a blatant gold digger who is willing to sell her soul and her family's for an oversized bag of loot. For shame, Mommy. For shame.

What ELSE did the wanton hussy do to that dirty old man right in front of her tiny toddler, who is undoubtedly traumatized for life? Are we to believe that the sordid clandestine affair ended with an innocent tickle under the beard and a gentle kiss? I think not.

But the capper, the ultimate disgrace, is when the child is unwittingly dragged into the dirty business and forced to betray his or her own father, otherwise known as Daddy. What kind of morals can this child be expected to embrace as an adult after witnessing Mommy's shocking disloyalty and even conspiring against poor old Daddy, who will forever after be perceived as a lame duck, the cuckold who got screwed over by Santa Claus?

With great dismay, I am forced to conclude that Mommy was clearly no gentlewoman.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Three Meme

Crankster has tagged me, just when I thought this one had run its course.

1. Three things that scare me:

-feeling helpless
-outliving any of my children

2. Three people who make me laugh:

-Margaret Cho
-Eddie Murphy
-George Carlin

3. Three things I love:

-my family

4. Three things I hate:


5. Three things I don't understand:

-cruelty to children or animals
-senseless violence

6. Three things on my desk:

-my cat, Truffle
-pot of Paperwhite Narcissus I'm forcing
-spiny mollusk shell

7. Three things I'm doing right now:

-working on a childhood memoir
-considering what other Christmas gifts to buy
-preparing to confront someone who overcharged me enormously

8. Three things I want to do before I die:

-create art that will outlive me
-visit Tahiti, Asia, and Africa
-have a grandchild, God and my children willing

9. Three things I can do:

-talk to anyone
-grow healthy plants and animals
-take pictures

10. Three things I can't do:

-keep my opinions to myself
-hurt anyone intentionally
-fake affection

11. Three things you should listen to:

-your own heart
-your children
-some kind of music

12. Three things you should never listen to:

-crowd mentality
-commercial or corporate hype

13. Three things I'd like to learn:

-French pastry-making

14. Three favorite foods:

-dark chocolate

15. Three beverages I drink regularly:

-chai latte
-green tea

16. Three shows I watched as a kid:

-I Love Lucy
-Ed Sullivan

I tag Chani, Velvet, and Nmj. If you do not choose to accept this mission, this blog will self-destruct and also disavow all knowledge of your actions.

All You Need Is Rocket Launchers

There is a party in the 'hood tonight. If I knew where, exactly, it would be over because I would call the cops on them. I would steal their drunken revelry faster than the Grinch stole Christmas.

They are carousing in a backyard nearby. It sounds as if they are in bed with us, they and a million bottles of booze. Booze seems to make people deaf. They are all shouting. This apparently strikes them funny. I don't know what could be hysterically funny at 4:30 a.m., but obviously I'm not in the loop. Or looped. My sense of humor, such as it is, went to bed hours ago and left me here, sleepless in San Francisco.

I've considered shouting out my window for them to SHUT UP-SHUTTHEFUCKUP. But they wouldn't hear me. Or care. I am normally a peaceful person. A real rose smeller. I have even marched for peace back in the day. I have smelled a lot of roses. But now I contemplate lobbing hand grenades at people I don't know.

Just like war.

I am impressed that I have this in me. And I do. I am filled with blind hatred for these people I have never met because they deprive me of sleep. It is not possible to co-exist with them. They need to die because it's them or me.

I have become the thing I hate most. Intolerant. But at least I'm quiet. And I'm all out of hand grenades.

Maybe a nice bottle launcher.

It's the Winter Solstice. The sun is farthest south of the equator, making it the shortest day of the year, although it feels pretty long to me right now. The Summer Solstice, when the sun is farthest north, occurs on June 24th, which happens to be my birthday, a thought that normally fills me with delight. But right now, I am at my greatest distance from a good night's sleep.

And I'm not feeling the love tonight.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

for Urban-Urchin



Yesterday, I ran into my husband while Christmas shopping in the rain, and suggested we duck into Starbucks for hot apple cider.

While waiting in line, he picked out a coffee mug. A nice one. An oversize, greedy-looking mug. Flip has a fascination with mugs, and always seems to need a new one, while I have used the same (stolen) one for years. Our kitchen cabinet is overflowing with mugs.

Starbucks was out of cider, and couldn't ring up the mug because it was, apparently, from last year.

I questioned why it was there if they couldn't sell it. The barista called her manager, who also tried to scan the label on the bottom of the mug.

It wouldn't scan.

He said, "I guess it's free."

I said, "No, it's $7.99.

"We can't take money for it because it's not in our computer. "

I am not used to getting something for nothing. "Are you sure?" I asked.

He handed me the mug.

I wished I had taken another one as well, but at this point, it would have been tacky. Even for me.

Today, though, I went back to see if they had any cider. They did. I picked out another mug like the first one, but lined with turquoise instead of wine. They must have pulled the other wine-colored one when they realized they couldn't sell it.

There was a different barista behind the counter. He encountered the same problem. The mug was not in their system and could not be sold.

I said,"There's another one like it. Maybe the SKU will work on that one." I got him the other white and turquoise mug, confident that he would have to give it to me when it didn't scan.

It didn't. He told me that he couldn't sell it to me, and did I want another one instead.

"I like THIS one," I said.

He conferred with his co-worker, and they agreed that the mug could not be sold.

"Maybe it's just there to be given away as advertising," I suggested.

He scowled at me.

"Can't you find another one?" he said.


He got out a thick book and searched through it until he found what he needed. He rang up the mug and cider, which had been brought to me since I was still at the ordering platform.

I was still ahead of the game. Two for the price of one.

The cider was so hot I couldn't drink it. I could barely hold it.

I noticed that one of the local derelicts was still in his station by the bank, where he had been earlier when I gave a couple of dollars to a guy who asked me for money to feed his dog.

I had considered telling him that if he stopped smoking, he'd have more money for food, but didn't. Neither of them looked hungry, but you never know.

The bank guy had seen the whole transaction and smiled at me as I passed, even though I didn't give him anything.

I wanted to tell him that if he had a dog, he'd do a lot better. But I didn't.

I asked him if he would like some hot cider. He said, "Yeah, sure." But he looked at me quizzically.

I could see him wondering, "Why is she giving it to me? Is there something wrong with it?"

"Didn't you like it?" he asked.

"I didn't touch it," I said. "I can't drink anything really hot, but I know that most people can."

Apparently I felt the need to reassure him that the cider wasn't tainted with my cooties or anything.

He smiled and said, "God bless you."

I said, "God bless you, too," and went home.

I think we're friends now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

O, Christmas Tree

A small Christmas tree at San Francisco Civic Center was stolen tonight. The tree had been decorated with ornaments handmade by children in a project designed to give them a sense of contributing to the community.

There were no plans to give the ornaments back to the children after the holidays so they could experience the joy of true giving.

But somebody removed the tree, lights, ornaments and all.

And now the children get to experience true taking.

They say no good deed goes unpunished.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Deck the Hounds with Boughs of Holly

Why do some people feel the need to decorate their pets for Christmas? Today, I saw three dogs sporting wreaths around their necks, including one made of holly. Holly bites. It can hurt you. Why would anyone do this to an animal they purport to love? Another was wearing red antlers and trying to hide behind his laughing owner.

I also saw a cat wearing an Elizabethan collar of ruffly red organza to match her four little red booties. The cat was crouching miserably on a ledge outside the local hamburger joint. I slipped her collar off and she eyed me with gratitude, then held up one of her paws so I could remove the nasty little footwear. I helped her out of her finery, left it on the ledge next to her, and resumed walking.

An angry woman came barreling out of the greasy spoon and pounced on her cat while glaring stink at me. As I walked away, I saw her cramming the wreath back over the cat's head.

I wanted to tell her how cruel it is to force an animal into hurtful (and tasteless) clothing. I fully believe that the cat was at least as embarrassed by the tackiness of her getup as she was physically uncomfortable in it. She was probably blushing under her fur.

Animals are not accessories. They are living creatures. In many cases, what is more, they are smarter and more sensitive than humans. They are certainly more sensitive than humans who would inflict this kind of torture on innocent dogs and cats.

Such fools deserve to have their best shoes chewed beyond wearability, their favorite clothing clawed to shreds, and their beds pooped upon. While they are in them.

Animals of the world, unite. Only 13 chewing, clawing and pooping days until Christmas.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I Love a Parade

Downtown, the traffic had stopped dead. It soon became clear that a parade was coming. There were two modest "floats:" One battered pickup truck bearing a cardboard statue of a saint of indeterminate gender atop the cab, and another truck with many brightly colored crepe paper streamers, a dilapidated sound truck with huge, tinny speakers blaring Mexican music from the bed, and about a thousand people on foot including a man carrying a lone tuba which he was not playing.

A mariachi band would have been nice, but there was none. It was a low-budget affair.

Everybody was dressed in traditional Mexican clothing, always a colorful banquet for the eyes. The women wore long dresses and shawls, the men, sombreros and boots. Excited children ran back and forth in the long lines of people.

I didn't have time to stop, but thought maybe it was a celebration of Saint Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. I learned later that the traditional Posadas, which in Mexico begins on December 16th and includes nightly parades for nine days until Christmas, is a simpler celebration in the Bay Area. One procession is the norm here, and I think that is what I saw today.

The word "posada" means "to ask for shelter." The tradition of Posadas is based on the idea that people should experience the hardships Joseph and Mary endured during their escape from Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus. It is a reenactment of their arduous search for shelter. The ritual has retained its ancient flavor to this day.

People go in bands from house to house, asking for food and shelter. They are rejected at each one until finally, somebody invites them in and the celebrations begin.

Giving birth among field animals is probably optional.

Across the street from the marchers, Gwyneth Paltrow looked on from a large poster on which she hawked Estee Lauder perfume. There was nothing low budget about Ms. Paltrow, whose gown cost more than a city in Mexico. She was wearing Van Cleef & Arpels diamonds instead of a shawl.

A few blocks away, three Santas were stranded on a street corner. They were exceedingly thin Santas, also young. One of them had forgotten to put on his white beard. They were not carrying sacks of toys, nor did they have sleds or reindeer.

One of them was reeling as he yelled at passing cars, "You don't like us."

Well, all right, then. I'm not leaving cookies for these guys.

I'm holding out for the mariachi band.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thanks, Allan!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Landlordis Terribilis

Our landlord, Scrooge, should have a house with 100 rooms and be found dead in every one of them.

He has the boiler set so that we get heat for only 13 hours per day, half in the morning and half at night. The rest of the time, no matter what the temperature is, we are either (a) cold, (b) contemplating burning our furniture or (c) huddled around an electric space heater we bought.

I checked with the Rent Board a few years ago, and this is legal. He is required by law to give us 13 hours of heat per day, and that is what he does. Not a minute more, not a minute less. Thirteen hours. The outside temperature stays the same during the hours we have no heat, so there is no justification for depriving us. I would much prefer to pay for our own fuel and have heat whenever we want it.

I should mention here that we do not live in a slum. We live in one of the better neighborhoods in a very expensive city, and our monthly rent is considerably more than our mortgage payments were when we owned a four-bedroom house on several acres of beautiful land outside Nashville.

He could afford to heat these apartments around the clock. I've heard rumors that his father, from whom he inherited this building and several others, showed some concern for his tenants' comfort and well-being. This character trait, alas, was not passed on to his son. Only the real estate.

This enrages me. If it were just cheapness, I wouldn't be so upset, but I interpret his callous neglect as arrogance. He believes that he is somehow worthier than those who rent their living spaces from him, that we are lesser beings who do not deserve the normal creature comforts he takes for granted. I do not have a natural aptitude for servility.

I was confirmed in my suspicions when he barged into our apartment without knocking, without the requisite 24-hour notice except for emergencies, without even 24 seconds' notice, to inspect some repairs in our bathroom, which had clearly not been maintained, although he does raise the rent every year. Without knocking, he opened our door with his own key and snorted down the hall to the bathroom like the wild boar he resembles. He did not introduce himself. If anyone had been using the bathroom at the time, there would have been a homicide. Especially if that person had been me.

Last year, I had a nasty flu-like cold, which was worrisome because I have had pneumonia five times. It was in January and the apartment was freezing. We could see our breath without going outside. That was when we bought the space heater. We have used it quite a lot already this fall, and will probably buy another as well. Our electric bills will be second only to the National Debt.

I am making a landlord doll to burn in effigy in the backyard. After I stick pins in all the places that correspond with major organs and let a pack of rabid jackals tear it apart. Then I will put on my down parka and enjoy a nice cup of chai tea with steamed milk and cookies.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Tis The Season To Be Bitchy

I went to the UPS store to send off my daughter's birthday gift. (Her birthday is December 11th. A great day for the world.)

The young man working there, a Matt Damon look-alike, measured my stuff and found a box. He taped it together and held it under the styrofoam peanut spigot, a really cool machine. He began to type my address label.

Meanwhile, three other customers had come in. Three people, not counting the one wailing in his stroller, "Mommy, go poopy! Go poopy, Mommy." He had his tenses confused. The proper locution would have been, "Mommy, WENT poopy."

An old lady uncoiled herself like a rattlesnake and hissed, "Is there anyone here who can help us?"

Matt Damon said, "Not right now. I'm sorry."

She said, "Sorry doesn't get it. I want some help NOW."

"I'm going as fast as I can," said Matt.

She glared at me. I smiled back sweetly. Dimples and all.

Matt shot me a scared look, the kind that says, "Help me! I just fell into a deep vat of piranhas." I gave him my best reassuring gaze, the kind that says "Everything's gonna be all right."

I was lying, of course. There was no way to predict what that hag would do. She probably eats braised scrotums for breakfast. "I see three other people back there," she said. "Hey! Anybody work in this place?"

Matt told her that one of those people was a repairman, and the other two weren't on the clock. It was lunchtime.

"Helluva way to run a business," she said.

The other customers looked embarrassed, like when someone farts in an elevator and nobody's quite sure who did it.

She bore a striking resemblance to the witch who melted in The Wizard of Oz. The green one.

He finished my package, and we conferred about rates. She muttered loudly and stomped her foot like Rumpelstiltskin. She did not go through the floor, however. We were all sorry.

I hope Matt gets a good role soon so he can quit working there. The holiday season is off and running.

"Have yourself a rotten little Christmas.... "

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Appeasing the Restroom Goddess

Someone had made a total mess of the ladies' room at Mervyn's. I have never been to Mervyn's before, but it was on our way back to the car from CompUSA and Flip needed a restroom. I figured as long as I had to wait for him, I'd use one, too. I get bored easily.

The mess on the floor involved an entire huge bottle of liquid hand cleaner, pink, which had apparently been left on the sink by the janitress. Two other women exited their stalls and cruised straight out of the restroom without washing their hands. I stopped at the sink so when the janitress returned, I was the only one in there, with wet, soapy hands.

She gesticulated toward the spillage on the floor, which the culprit had attempted to cover with a million or so paper towels, unsuccessfully, I might add, and began to scream at me in Spanish.

I can speak the language passably if I think about it, but she had me frozen in the headlights, mesmerized, with wet, soapy hands which I was attempting to rinse and dry quickly on my jeans since the paper towels, as I mentioned, were all on the floor.

The Spanish-speaking part of my brain clamped shut. All I could think to say was "No me. No me!"

She, the janitress, was loudly running through every known Spanish curse while making obscene hand gestures at No me. A lot of "putas" and "chingadas" mixed in with other words I didn't know. Even screeched en voz alta by a deranged harpy, Spanish is beautiful.

She planted herself between me and the door to the rest of the world, the rest of my life. "NO ME," I said again. "No me."

She was not impressed. She hefted another gigantic bottle of pink liquid soap and prepared to hurl it at me like a shotput. I was wearing a delicious jacket of the world's softest suede. Fawn-colored. It didn't come from Mervyn's. I love this jacket. Suede cannot be cleaned well. I knew real fear.

"Terrible people," I said. "Personas malas. They didn't even wash their hands."

"Puta chingada."

I made an end run around her and scored a touchdown. I got out of the bathroom.

Jeez, lady, I'm sorry you have a rotten job in the Promised Land and the coyote ripped you off when he smuggled you into my country. But that was No me either. And if you want respect, here or anywhere, you have to give it to others.

I cannot begin to imagine what her life is like. Very likely, it sucks. What I do know is that as long as she takes out her rage on innocent strangers, it will not improve. You reap what you sow. If what you sow is doodoo, that is what you will get back. Even America cannot perform milagros (miracles) out of nothing.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Boy Named Sue

I wish person or persons unknown would stop sending me penis enlargement e-mails. Despite the fact that I recently changed my internet carrier, they have already found me.

I do not have a penis. Even a small one. I am quite happy that way. My name is Susan. That should be a hint.

I looked up these devices online. They look exceedingly painful. It is hard to believe that size matters that much to anyone. What is more, it is unlikely that I will grow a penis anytime soon. That is not in the plans. No matter what you manufacturers of torture equipment may think, I am not saving your contact information against the day it is necessary to make my life better. Or bigger.

I do not care to make hot chicks moan all night. Trust me on this. I am serious. You are wasting your time and energy on me because I will never be your customer. I guarantee it.

Can you say "f-e-m-a-l-e," children? I knew you could.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Devil Wears Ikea

I hope it was my last time in Ikea.

It was necessary to return a mattress pad which didn't fit our bed. Our bed is Queen-sized; the mattress pad was Queen-sized as well. It should have fit. It didn't. I thought of just chucking it, but wasting something brand-new goes against my principles. I was in the neighborhood, so I took it back.

There were only two other people in the returning room. The ticker said #20. I got #52. I called out, "Are you using the numbers?"

A large, angry woman informed me that they were. She reached out and cranked all the numbers between 20 and 52. I'd be pissed off, too, if I had to wear those hideous bilious yellow and blue uniforms that shriek out for sunglasses.

"I have to return this because it didn't fit our bed," I said.

"You opened it," she snarled accusingly.

"That's how I know it didn't fit."

"You OPENED it," she repeated.

I ignored her lessons in logic. "The package says 'Queen' but it wasn't big enough. It must be marked wrong."

"We can't take back something you opened." She looked as if she wanted to punch me out. She was a lot bigger than I am, but I'm pretty brave.

"I wouldn't have returned it if it had fit. But it didn't."

She said, "Do you have an Ikea ----?"


"Do you have an Ikea ----?"

"I don't know what that is," I said. She was making sounds that were beyond mumbling. She was not foreign, just unintelligible.


Oh. Where's my damn conversion table? "No."

"Well, that's why it didn't fit. Our measurements are different."

"I've bought mattress pads before and if they're Queen-sized, they fit. This one didn't."

"You should have read it."

"It doesn't say anywhere that your measurements are different."

"I have to call my Supervisor," she said. Right in front of me, she yelled into the phone, "Got a Problem Customer here that don't agree with Our Policy."

Ten minutes later, another woman dressed for a hostile takeover in bilious yellow and blue arrived. I explained the situation. She glared at me.

"You opened it," she said.

"That's how I found out if wouldn't fit on my bed."

"Well, we can't sell it to another customer now. We don't know if you used it or not. It could be DIRTY." Watch it, sister. I'm twenty times cleaner than you are. And so are my germs.

"I had to OPEN it to try it on the bed. I didn't USE it because it didn't fit. If it HAD fit, I wouldn't have RETURNED it," I said.

"We have to charge you 30% for opening it," she snarled.

"It wouldn't work for another customer either Because It's The Wrong Size," I said. I did not add, "You miserable cow. You swine. You lowlife scumbag piece of shit stupidhead." I held my tongue. My mother would have been pleased. Also surprised.

Lucretia Borgia's face turned bright red and her wattles twitched like a turkey. You never want to make a turkey angry. I know we eat them and all, but they're really nasty animals.

"The dimensions are on the package. Right here. Did you measure the bed?"

"No. I don't know how many Inches it is. It's a Queen." (Fer Chrissakes.)

"You're saying The Package is WRONG?" Wattles waggling violently now. Cruella deVille was quivering with rage. A lot of misplaced emotion riding on this. Uh huh. Tell me about your childhood.

"It is not posted anywhere that Ikea sizes are different from normal sizes," I told her. I was right, of course. Not that it mattered.

I was really close to throwing it in her face. My misspent life was flashing before my eyes. Ikea makes me hyperventilate. I held out my arm so she could siphon all the blood out of it. I got my partial refund. I ran for the door.

As God is my witness, I will never set foot in Ikea again.