Archive for December, 2011

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December 6, 2011

It’s hard to say why I remembered this incident I’m about to relate. It could have been something about the quality of the light coming through the curtains this afternoon, or some random synapse firing, or the Ghost of Summers Past whispering in my ear, but I had a sudden remembrance come to me.

The remembrance involved a time when my family lived in Lexington, Massachusetts. I must have been about four or five.

It was summertime, and my bedtime came while the sun was still out — a source of much dispute between my parents and me, which I invariably lost.

I was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, when suddenly I heard someone calling for help. Peeking out my bedroom window, I saw our next-door neighbor, a man I’ll call Herb, lying in his driveway, gushing blood from his abdomen. Maybe “gushing” is overstating it. Oozing. There we go. Herb’s abdomen was oozing blood.

Soon, there were neighbors running to the scene, and police cars, and an ambulance, and my mother coming in to make sure I wasn’t looking out the window at the unpleasant scene.

And that’s all I remember. I don’t remember knowing why Herb was bleeding — I have a vague recollection that he had been stabbed — but I was obviously too young for my parents to discuss the matter with.

It’s an odd memory, and I haven’t thought about the incident in years. My other memories of that neighborhood are uneventful and pleasant: playing kickball in the street under a canopy of leafy branches; picking blackberries on a nearby hill and seeing a perfect, dew-covered web spanning the rows, with a gorgeous garden spider at the center of it; making Kool-Aid with my best friend Rena, who lived across the street. And then Herb, the mysteriously bleeding neighbor.

I’m going to call my mother and see what the details of that incident are. It’s like the easiest form of detective work ever.

Here is a picture, taken at the local mini-golf, that approximates the Bleeding Herb Incident:

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December 5, 2011

So, to brighten the mood a touch, after all the Ten-Buck Bill/self-loathing/cancer/herp derp durr, I will now tell you the story of The Most Awesomest Date of My Life!!!!1

Let me set the stage: It was early autumn of 2010. I was newly single, with a new apartment and had not yet been diagnosed with cancer. The world was my oyster! Or, since oysters are repulsive and slimy, the world was my strand of perfectly matched Mikimoto pearls. Spin around and toss your tam-o-shanter in the air, girl, cos you’re gonna make it after all, doodle doot doot doot!

In a burst of optimism, and encouraged by friends, I signed up for an online dating service and soon was corresponding with a pleasant guy who seemed innocuous enough. Polite, well-spoken, like that.

Wary of false intimacy, I limited our communication to the basics, and we arranged to meet for drinks. “I’ll be wearing a black dress and grey boots,” I told him, and he responded that he would be wearing jeans and a blue shirt, and then added, oddly, “and boots… Just for you.” Just for me? I pondered, trying to remember if I’d said anything about boots. In truth, I am not crazy about most boots on most guys, and I certainly wouldn’t have requested that he specifically wear them. What was he talking about? I blew it off. “Absolut greyhound,” he said, acknowledging my drink of choice, and we rang off.

A few minutes before our appointed meeting time, I entered the restaurant and took a seat in the bar. The place was empty, but I was a bit early, so I tapped my fingers on the bar and bided my time. After fifteen minutes, annoyed, I ordered an Absolut greyhound and swizzled the straw around, watching the ice melt as I waited. Fifteen minutes later, more annoyed, I took an informal text poll of a few friends, all of whom advised me to bail. So, I finished my drink and bailed.

I took my ass across town to a little Italian restaurant I like, and ordered dinner. Only after my meal had arrived did I hear from my erstwhile date, apologizing profusely and begging me to come back. I said that I was sorry, but that no, an hour late is too much. He apologized more. He said he was late because he’d been buying me a present. I finally agreed to meet him after I’d finished my dinner.

And so I did. I drove back across town, parked the car, and walked to the restaurant, envisioning a frosty greyhound awaiting me, maybe with a bouquet of flowers from the farmers market one block away.

Instead, I found my date — in boots, as promised — sitting happily at the bar, drinking a draft beer, no flowers or obvious gift of any kind, no greyhound in sight. We greeted one another, and he pointed to his feet. “See?” he said, “Boots! Just for you.” Yup, boots. I get it. Ordinary brown leather boots, not particularly pointy, worn under jeans. Pressed jeans. My instincts, which I for some reason ignored, screamed RUN! But instead, I ordered a greyhound, and made polite conversation.

Did I say “polite”? I meant “agonized.” I don’t remember what we talked about. What I do remember is his revelation of the reason he’d been late: my present. I sat politely as he produced a black plastic bag of the sort you might expect to contain a can of watermelon Four Loko or an assortment of airplane-portioned mini liquor bottles.

I will just say that either of those things would have been preferable to what the bag actually contained, which was: a plastic package containing a pair of black lace crotchless panties, price still prominently displayed.

I have no explanation for the panties, just as I have no explanation for his enthusiasm about wearing boots. In retrospect, I wonder if he had confused me with some other girl he’d been chatting up online. I pondered all these things as I finished my drink, afraid that any sudden movement might set him off, and only then did I notice the distinct impression of a ring on his left ring finger. Not a tan line, but an impression, as if just before meeting me, he had taken off the ring and stuffed it in the pocket of his jeans, his pressed jeans.

Below, a photo approximating my reaction to the whole situation:

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December 5, 2011

So, what do I do when Ten-Buck Bill calls back, as he inevitably will?

    Don’t answer the phone, don’t return call, repeat as necessary.
    Answer the phone drunk, engage in brutal honesty about how irritating I find him.
    Perfect excuse: “I have cancer, cannot leave the house.”
    Frankness: Your cheapness, combined with your lascivious glances, make me want to vom.
    Outright lie: Our last date turned me gae.

What would you tell him?

I don’t have any instructions.

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In which I will explain the reason for my irritation

December 2, 2011

It’s chilly tonight. When I got home and took off my leather jacket, a wide-lapelled double-breasted Spanish number I’ve had for more than a year, I noticed that there was something in the inside breast pocket. I reached in and brought out several receipts, carbon copies of old Master Charge slips, some hand-written lists from various places in Santa Barbara, all for orchids. Hundreds of dollars’ worth of orchids, in 1975 money, destined for who-knows-where, the receipts stuffed casually into an inside pocket, not to be rediscovered for more than 35 years.

Whoever stuffed these receipts — $90 for phaelenopsis — in that pocket was not, I am guessing, given to careful accounting. I relate to this person, to whom I am connected only by an out-of-date leather jacket, in theory if not in budget. I whole-heartedly support profligate orchid-buying. The reality of the situation, however, dictates that I myself cannot wildly spend money on orchids. I can be an observer of the buying, I might even be able to look at the orchids once they’ve been bought. What I cannot do, however, is suggest that you come orchid-shopping with me, pick out several hundred dollars’ worth of orchids with the vague promise of giving you the orchids, and then, when we get to the register, put out my hand for your Master Charge to cover your half of the bill.

I mention this theoretical situation because tonight, I was invited to dinner by someone I know slightly, and had gone out with twice, about a year ago. He asked me to dinner, had me suggest a place, and then confirmed our appointed meeting time by phone yesterday. I was no more than moderately excited about the prospect of going out tonight because it’s cold, I’m tired, and while the guy is nice enough, there are no sparks, and the last time I went out with him, for a glass of wine, he asked me to kick in ten bucks when the bill came. In my estimation, if you cannot afford ten bucks to buy a girl a glass of wine, you don’t get to go out with that girl. You are dating out of your class. Go away, save up ten bucks, and then call the girl and ask her out. This is not a complicated concept, nor is it as outdated as you might think. If you think it is, then stay in your parents’ garage and drink Natural Ice Lite with your buddies.

Against my better judgment, I went to dinner with ol’ Ten-Buck Bill tonight. It went fine. There were no sparks that I perceived, although my date was very complimentary of everything from my earrings to my vocabulary. I made conversation. I was friendly. I ordered from the middle of the menu, as I was brought up to understand that ladies do. Everything was fine until the check came. The waiter dropped off the little black tray with the bill on it, and there it sat. Because I had been invited to this event, I let the check languish. It performed very well, lying there on the tray as if dead. I eyed it occasionally, but kept the conversation sprightly. And then my date began to become more complimentary, to the point where it started to grate on me. His vibe still clearly telegraphed “date.” He even talked about the prospect of a next date, although I remained vague. Finally, I began to tire, and I told him I guessed I should be going. “Oh, yes,” he said, “let’s just take care of this and I’ll drive you home.”

So, we “just took care of this,” although I had to make up the difference to counteract his exceptionally poor tipping skills. And then we left. And the whole three blocks home, I wondered how I might have avoided the entire situation. Because here is the deal: I am not a particularly high-maintenance girl. But I do have limited funds, and limited hours during which I feel sprightly enough to carry on interesting conversation with a relative stranger. I am not averse to the concept of Dutch treat, but I really need to know in advance, guy who is asking me out, so that I can make an appropriate decision on how I will be spending my time.

Essentially, this evening, I spent $10 an hour to make lively conversation with someone I am not attracted to, and eat half a sandwich I ordered only because I thought it an economical choice for your budget, guy who asked me out. Had I known that it would cost me $30 and all my energy to get through this dinner, I would have declined. I would have been perfectly happy eating potato chips and watching Christmas specials with my cat.

You can agree or disagree with my policy on dating. What you cannot argue with is this: IF you call me up to ask me on an ostensible date, and IF you then make me pay for my half of the check, and IF the walk to your car is longer than the walk would’ve been to my front door, you should probably not go in for a kiss when we say goodnight. Because that attempt will be rebuffed with a theatrical MWAH! air kiss and a hasty retreat.

And I really don’t give a shit if I do end up sitting around eating potato chips in my pajamas for the rest of my life. I am never going on another date like that again. And the next guy who asks me out and then puts out his hand for my contribution is going to find himself sitting alone at a table, holding a handful of spit.

Here’s a random picture to distract you from my rage:

It’s a flounder. It seemed appropriate.

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In which I am not able

December 1, 2011

Can anyone recommend a good auction house? Because today, in the mail, I got a notice that my disability has been exhausted, and so la de da, sorry about that. Hm. I’m not completely sure how to navigate these waters — big state institutions staffed solely, it appears, by phone trees. I find it daunting.

I left a message with my work’s Benefits lady. I am hoping she calls me tomorrow.

I really never expected to be sick this long.

But back to the auctioneer: I think I need to sell the one piece of jewelry I would actually call real, i.e., worthy of sale. This would be so much easier in a major city where there are appraisers and experts and auction houses of note. Am I supposed to take this thing to Zales at the mall for an appraisal?

That is not really a productive line of thought. I’ll figure it out, call an appraiser, get an estimate, and find a buyer.

I am really struggling with the idea of selling it. I need to make peace with the idea and deal with it. It is a material thing, and I can’t take it with me wherever I go, whenever it is that I go.

I think my mother is still in a snit that she bought me $500 of pro-biotics that I have yet to take. Well, and about a whole bunch of other things. I think I mentioned that she said I should sell this piece of jewelry, but offer first right of refusal to my snotty DAR-member cousin, who would barely know me from Adam “Of course,” my mother added, “She’d probably only give you $2,000 for it. She is seriously cheap.” Well, let’s get her on the phone!

I need to get over my attachment to this object. It’s such a joke: I’ve wanted it for years, but it just sat in a drawer at my mother’s house. She finally gave it to me a year ago, as a “thanks for being in my wedding/sorry you’ve got cancer/my odds are good on getting this back before long” present.

Some people in my position don’t have anything to sell to help themselves out. I just kinda would have liked to hang onto it for longer than a year. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, though! And we are not guaranteed another breath. It does not really matter what this piece of jewelry represents. It matters how much time it can buy me.

Mark Twain lost his entire fortune several times. Dominick Dunne failed spectacularly in Hollywood and ended up selling everything, down to his Turnbull & Asser neckties. Sometimes, you’re just skint. Of course, those two also had an extensive network of friends and acquaintances willing to publish their next work and propel them back to stability.

Whatever. The Lord will provide. And for those of you experiencing schadenfreude over my reduced circumstances — you know who you are, even if you can’t define “schadenfreude” — here’s more fodder for your cud. Call it “karma,” knock yourself out.

As the goldurn rotten, stinkin’ Grateful Dead have said, I will get by. I will survive. Gloria Gaynor echoed that last sentiment, with a slightly different groove. But she was right. And so am I.

Here’s a random picture, my way of apologizing for all the self-pity and whining:

It shows someone pointing at a dik-dik, which is like a half-bird/half-gazelle/half Christmas cookie. I believe.

Carry on.

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