Me: "Thank you for calling *beep*, this is Crystal, may I help you?"
HH: "Hi, Crystal. My name is Heidi Hoe and I have a policy with you. Can you answer a question for me or do I need to talk to someone else?"
Now, you can imagine where my brain came to a screeching halt. Full stop. From terminal velocity to a brick fucking wall.
Me: "I'm terribly sorry. What did you say your name was?"
HH: *audible sigh* "Heidi Hoe. That's H-O-E."
Me: (sounding like I'm trying to keep from shitting my pants, which I basically am) "Can I place you on hold for one minute?"
HH: *another audible sigh* "Sure. Why not."
I then run to every single person and demand that everyone convene in my office AT ONCE. POST-HASTE. YESTERDAY, PEOPLE, COS' THESE OPPORTUNITIES JUST DON'T PRESENT THEMSELVES VERY OFTEN.
After everyone has made their way into my office, I put her on speaker phone.
Me: "Ma'am? I'm sorry...can you tell me your name one more time? I got distracted by ... I had to go pee."
HH: "Am I on speaker phone?"
Me: "No, ma'am. My office is basically like a cave. Complete with monkeys." (the trick here is to throw her off. Saying 'monkeys' completely out of context with the rest of the conversation usually does it)
HH: "Oh. Okay, then. Heidi. H-E-I-D-I. Hoe. H-O-E."
I turn around with a big, stupid grin on my face and look at everyone. Everyone looks at me with disgust and walks out. Fucking kill-joys.
Whatever. I ascertained that Ms. Hoe is single via her profile on her account. God, how her parents must have hated her.
I now have my new porn name.
I don't know why I bother going back to Burger King. Apparently, I'm like Whitney Houston, I need abuse from a crackhead.
Every couple of months, I decide to give them another chance and they never fail to send me away gripping the steering wheel in rage, screaming, "My way, motherfuckers! MY WAY!"
So, I swing through the drive-thru a few minutes ago. I order something simple and I only ask that they upsize my Dr. Pepper. Here's where it gets weird...
I roll up to the first window and a guy opens it up with a huge smile on his face. I flinch and cower in my seat. I'm not prepared for this unexpected turn in my relationship with BK. After I collect myself, I hand him a twenty. And away we go...
BK Guy With Shit Eating Grin: "Ha! Can I keep the change?"
Me, with an equally dazzling grin: "If you'll stop smiling like you just killed your mother and ate her tongue, sure!"
BKGrin: "Huh? Ha! You're still pretty!"
Me (rolling my window up and leaving just enough room for him to slide the bills through. Fuck the coins): "And you're still creepy! Ha!"
BKGrin: "Think we got enough rain?"
Me: "Well, you didn't drown, so I guess not."
It has occurred to me by now that this guy doesn't hear a word I'm saying. He is only hearing the voices in his head. Otherwise, I would never be so mean. Honestly.
BKGrin: "It didn't dampen your spirits, did it? Ha!"
Me: "Me? Oh, I'm the happ-happ-happiest fucker you've ever seen. I take my meds every single day. You should try it."
BKGrin holds out my money. I roll the window down enough to snatch it and roll it back up before he can eat my head. He just smiles. I move up to the next window.
BK Girl With Scowl and The Dull, Lifeless Eyes of The Mentally Void: "Here."
She hands me my drink and I'm completely relaxed because we're back to normal, BK and I.
The drink is a medium. I only ask for my one Dr. Pepper fix a day, and it must be the gallon size.
Me: "Excuse me. I asked for an upsize, ma'am."
She glares at me and turns to whatever half-witted fuckwad they call a manager.
BKScowl: "She said she asked for an upsize." (murmuring in background)
Now, I haven't been back to BK in a couple of months for one reason: They hate me and they remember my face. The last time I was there, I was hungover, I was smack in the middle of a hot flash, and it was 8 a.m. They're all lucky to be alive after they did the exact same shit to me then as they were doing today. As it turns out, I freaked the hell out of the Morlock that was working the window when I screamed at her, but I didn't hurt anyone. Physically.
I was a bartender and a restaurant manager for YEARS. You never, ever, ever doubt a customers word when all it will cost is a measly .44 cents (which I was quite certain I had already paid).
I pulled out a dollar bill when Scowl came back. I didn't want to argue or go to jail. I silently handed her the dollar and watched her walk away. She came back, gave me my giant Dr. Pepper and shut the window without saying a word.
Now I was pissed. Defcon 5 pissed. I reached over and rapped on the window.
Me: "Correct me if I'm wrong, but that meal is $5.38, no?"
Scowl: "I dunno."
Me: "Well, do you think you can check or would moving your ass from this window be too much of a foreign concept for you?"
Scowl: (slams the window shut and walks away)
Scowl: (returning and throwing open window) "Yes."
Me: "Good. Now that that's been established, you charged me $6.25. Wrap your mind around this...the tax rate is 8.25%. You charged me $6.25. So, I already paid for the upsize, twice, and you still didn't give me any change. That dollar was not a tip, sugar."
I glanced behind me. It is 2 p.m. on a crappy, hurricane beaten day and there is no one behind me. I put my car in reverse and back up to Grin's window. He opens. Grinning.
Me: "Jimmy, I don't want to deal with Binky The Wonder Bimbo anymore. Can you please give me my dollar back?"
BKGrin: "My name's not Jimmy!"
Me: "Whatever. Can I get my dollar?"
BKGrin: "Hang on! Ha!"
He disappears momentarily and returns with my dollar. See how simple that was?
Me: "George, you've been wonderful. Oh, and the girl at the next window? She said you're hot. Ha!"
My way, motherfuckers. MINE.
So, last week, Chris changed the password to my computer in honor of Devon's recent foray into the land of "When, exactly, did I tell you that it was okay to glue your sisters lips shut?" The password contained Chris's middle name.
Today ends Devon's recent three-day grounding. Because he sniffed the glue that he used to silence his sister, he thought it would be cute last night to bug the living hell out of me about the password. This led to volley of exchanges between Chris, Devon and me, until Devon stopped, mid-sentence (which basically means the sky is falling or Gore won a spelling bee or something because it's not normal for a child of mine to shut up before they have shoved their opinion up your ass, sideways), looked at us in horror and said, "Oh, my gosh. I can't even remember Chris's last name, much less his middle name."
Chris was really pleased, what with the prospect of that being my last name some day and all. I told him it doesn't matter since Devon only every calls me, "Mombut" and "MomIneed" anyway.
So, as I was torturing Devon and giving him hints about what Chris's last name is (it's McKee, for those of you who haven't been taking notes), the conversation went like this:
Devon: "Is it McDougal?"
Me: "No, but you're on the right track with the 'Mc' part."
Devon: "I know, cos he's Irish."
Me: "Exactly. Now, here's your hint...what do you use to open a door?"
And my son, without missing a beat, made me proud by saying, "McKnob?"
We will now all refer to Chris as Mr. McKnob. Tell me that kid isn't fucking brilliant.
For some odd reason, the only other people who come down are black folks. I am thrilled by this because they are enormously entertaining at any time, but seemingly much more so at half-past-I-still-have-eye-boogers.
So, this morning, there is a new black lady there. She has a daughter the same age as mine who was extremely reluctant to board the bus. After prying her hands away from the safety bar (I'm not kidding) and closing her legs so that she couldn't wedge her feet on the outside of the bus (still not kidding), she managed to safely deposit her into a seat. She came back off the bus and stood next to me while we waved like parents sending their kids off to war.
Right about this time, the junior high bus showed up. I was standing back, watching my son get on, when Ashonishenetta (again, not kidding), the mom of the reluctant bus-boarder, started scrutinizing one of the junior-high bus windows like she had spotted Elvis. Then the fun began.
"Callllvin! Callllllllllvin!" She was 3 feet from the bus and hollering like Calvin was at the bottom of a chasm. I looked to find Calvin and saw a kid about my son's age, holding one hand up to the side of his face, ostensibly to convince her that he wasn't there.
It didn't work.
"Calvin!" She walks up at this point and starts knocking on the bus window. The kid sitting next to Calvin pulled the window down. He was enjoying this as much as the rest of us. Ashonishenetta launched.
"Calvin! Where yo' momma get her hair did?" She seemed oblivious to Calvin's obvious discomfort and asked again. "She go to that place up on White Street?"
Calvin looked miserable when he turned to her. "I doe know, 'Netta. Go axe my momma."
'Netta was not to be deterred. "Jez tell me. I won't say nothin'."
As everyone knows (and I found this out while standing there because I was horribly confused and I asked one of the other black men who was spectating. He took pity on me because I'm obviously lily-white in more ways than one), black women, once they find a good hairdresser, hoard that secret and it gets passed down through the generations until the hairdresser dies. He or she does not have the option to retire because that woman will come to your house and demand that you pop your arthritis pills and put on your glasses cos' they need a weave, damn you.
You never share this information casually, lest you risk the wrath of an angry black woman with hair that looks just like her neighbors. It's like guarding the location of the Holy Grail..a whole lot of people are going to want to know, but you have to be strong or bring about the end of the world.
"Calvin momma goan whoop his ass, he tell her who do her hair," the nice black man told me.
Calvin was starting to crumble and it was riveting.
"Pleaze, Miss 'Netta, you know I cain't tell you!"
"Boy, you bein' silly. Jez gimme a name..." She leaned forward, and I swear her hair leaned forward, too.
At that precise moment, as the fate of humanity rested on Calvin's shoulders and he was opening his mouth, the bus started to roll away. Ashonishenetta's eyes bugged out of her head and she almost pissed her pants slapping on the side of the bus and shrieking, "Hold on! Hooooold on! He goan' tell me!" The bus driver had a schedule to keep and didn't slow. I could hear Calvin's sigh of relief all the way back at the bus stop.
I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. My guess is that Calvin will be in a prone position on the floor of the bus when it hits bus stop number 6.
10 years ago - I was twenty-one. Do I really need to say anything more??
5 years ago - I was stumbling around in a smelly bathrobe with an infant attached to my chest. I would pause in my aimless wanderings through the house to squish her head into my boob so as to make her release the vacuum suction that she had on my nipple (pediatrician recommended. Honestly) in an attempt to breathe. While she was drawing in enough breath to release the cacophony of a thousand screaming demons on the unsuspecting world, I would immediately shove the other boob in her face. Repeat as necessary. Cover your face to deflect punches as you cling to the mailman's leg and beg him to give you whatever medication might be on his mail truck for delivery.
1 year ago - Attempt to break the world record for the most Corona consumption on a Saturday. Only speak in a bad Spanish accent ("Buenos Nachos, Pendejo!") and insist that everyone throw their cell phones away and pretend they're in Cancun. When attempting to sit in a beach chair on the faux beach in your friends front yard (she had like 2 tons of sand dumped in her yard to make us feel like we are somewhere, anywhere but Mississippi), lean forward too far, fall victim to the pendulous motion of your ginormous boobs, and fall face forward into the sand. Do not have the presence of mind to drop your Corona and right yourself. Instead, stay there with your head stuck in the sand like a fucking ostrich, flailing your arms until you look like the world's most retarded windmill, and vow to kill all the people falling all over themselves around you, laughing too hard to help you remember how to stand up.
Yesterday - tried, in vain, to do all the things that needed to be done in order for me to get a few hours of sleep. Let me ask you...when, exactly, did kindergarten kids start getting homework? What happened to the days of eating paste, 2 hour naps on a mat that smelled like pee, and macaroni picture frames? Now the little shits are gearing up to use those sixteen glue sticks I had to buy (16. That's one- six) to recreate the Louvre or cure cancer or some damned thing. Holy hell. I have to give her three Mountain Dews and some crystal meth just to get her out of bed in the morning.
5 snacks I enjoy - sleep, pickled cauliflower, olives (preferably in a martini), licorice, and Bovril (and I will personally send one whole boob to anyone who can get me some. You have to pay shipping, though. That's like a weeks salary)
5 songs I know all the words to - Foul Taste of Freedom (Pro-Pain), Bohemian Rhapsody (Complete with headbanging and falsetto, a la "Wayne's World"), Ugly (Sass Jordan), Mr. Lonely (by whatever abomination it was that remade it. I hear it at work. I can't help it. And every time it gets stuck in my head I want to pour battery acid in my ear canals and THERE IT IS OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP), I Wanna Be Sedated (Ramones).
5 things I would do with $100 million dollars - there are so many people I would torment. I don't even know where to begin. ...Oh, and I'd buy a koala bear.
5 Places I would run away to - It wouldn't do any good. My kids would find me. They always find me.
5 things I would never wear - Those ridiculous sunglasses that every hip person is wearing; Those boots. Unless you're leading a team of dogs through the anarctic or trying to attract and mate with a Yeti, leave the silly-looking motherfuckers in the store; "Beautiful" perfume. Every single girl in high school had a bottle. My parachute pants still reek of it; a butt-plug; golf shoes.
5 Favorite TV Shows - The TV's in my house have been permanently set to Nickleodeon and Cartoon Network, the buttons have been removed and the remotes have been eaten. I am at the mercy of Spongebob and Aqua Teen Hunger Strike or whatever.
5 Biggest Joys - Ugh. Stepping on the scale and pretending not to notice beforehand that it's off 5 pounds in my favor, my daughter's big, blue eyes when she tells me about her day in "kinnergarden", my son laughing so hard that he farts, Chris's promise that he whispers to me every night when he thinks I'm sleeping, and grilling with a cold beer in my hand and the sounds of football in the background.
5 favorite toys - (this section edited for x-rated content) Oh. Well, no one told me what "toys" meant, dammit. Ok. Umm...Playdoh. I love Playdoh. Playstation, X-Box, Nintendo Gamecube, my computer and if anyone wants to buy me a new pocket protector, I've worn my old one out.
5 people I cyber-hump and pass this BTD on to: Yournamehere, WarCryGirl, Butterbean, Tami and Chunk. It's an orgy! Chop chop!
A man initiated conversation number one. We'll call him "Angus". He was extremely good looking, but still lost in the 80's. He had long hair and the mellow, thoughtful look of one who is perpetually stoned.
Whatever. I haven't been intimate in months, so I didn't give a shit what his music preferences were.
Angus sat down, eyeballed me subtly and ordered a beer. I was drinking a Manhattan. I don't know why. I was convinced that this was what former porn actresses would drink. Angus looked at my drink.
"What the fuck is that?"
I remind myself that I'm in the south, I'm in the south, I'm in the muhfuckin' south. This is considered flirting for some men.
"A Manhattan. Whiskey, mostly. Cherries." I am an idiot.
We started bullshitting and things finally rolled around to the inevitable question.
"So, what do you do?" Angus asked me.
"Oh, I don't work. Well, not anymore. I saved some money from my last job and…well, I needed a break from...people."
"Oh. Why? What'd you do, work in a prison?" He guffawed at this. Angus was looking less and less attractive.
"No. I used to make porn." Angus blinked at me. I blinked back.
"You mean...you used to direct them or something?" Poor Angus.
I leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, "Nooooo...I used to star in them."
I tipped him a wink. I then frowned. Again, I don't know why. I also thought that reformed porn stars must act like fucking nuts.
We went back and forth like this for a few minutes until Angus finally started to buy my bullshit. By then, he had started taking a scientific interest in my past profession.
"So...ooh! ooh! I know!! Tell me some movies you've been in and I bet I've seen one of them! I knew you looked familiar!" He was working up quite the fervor, our Angus.
I leaned back in my chair and starting ticking movies off on my fingers, mouthing the titles, muttering under my breath. After 15 or so (and occasionally saying things like, "Nah. He wouldn't have seen that one. He doesn't strike me as the type to be into animals."), Angus had paled visibly. My eyes popped open.
"I know! Did you see "Dude, Where's My Dildo?"
He had apparently lost the gift of speech because he just shook his head.
"Big Trouble in Little Vagina?" Negative.
"Tea Bagger Vance?" Nope.
"I know you saw "Once, Twice, Three Times a Labia."
Angus had worked half his ass cheek onto the next bar stool...in the opposite direction. I was almost disappointed. A part of me expected him to have been a connoisseur of filthy, low-budget porn.
He quickly finished his beer, furiously pumped my hand as he spewed spittle on me and effused about how lovely it was to meet me, and then bolted out the door like his ass was on fire and his hair was catching.
After an hour and 4 more Manhattans, option number 2 made his move. I was a little dubious about this guy because he couldn't have been more than 23.
Again, whatever. I can wear my teacher’s hat.
After the formalities and throwing the bait at him, he finally swallowed it. Much like Angus, his initial reaction was shock and then morbid interest. The questions ranged from, "What's the biggest dick you've had?" to "Do they really have girls on the side to keep the guys hard?" I kept a straight face and plugged onward. After a half hour of this, I was getting irritated. He then asked me a question that threw me.
"Why did you quit?"
I was stumped for a minute. Why would I have quit? Why did he even care?
I stammered something about wanting a better life and then popped a cherry in my mouth, stem still attached, and starting sucking on it. #2 was fascinated with this move. I realized what I was doing and quickly ate the cherry. I was starting to feel drunk and he was starting to look very, very young. He got up to go pee and stopped by his friend’s table, en route. They had a conversation that mostly consisted of sniggering and quick, furtive glances back at me. I gave a weak little thumbs up at them and drained my drink. I then bolted out the door, Angus style.
Sitting there talking about all these things I had supposedly done for money made me feel filthy. I had to go home, masturbate in the shower and then cry. These games are not helping my social life. Not at all.
I have a difficult time referring to you as "Your Honor" because I don't feel you have any. I'm one of the nameless and faceless.
12 years ago, in a humid, smelly Texas courtroom, you awarded sole custody of my 10-month-old baby to his father. As I slid to the floor, my grief so overwhelming that I no longer cared if I lived or died, you told my attorney to "get her out of here".
You may have wondered at the time why I was so devastated. The court ordered standard visitation, did they not? Why, I got to see my son for two hours on Wednesday and every other weekend from Friday at 6 p.m. until Sunday at 6 p.m. Was that not enough? In short, no, you narrow-minded, sexist sonofabitch.
I knew, without a doubt, that my son would be used as a pawn against me. The last words his father spoke to me before we entered the courtroom were, "You hurt me. Now I'm going to take away the one thing you love the most." You know how I hurt him? I left him. I left him because he was a verbally abusive, physically violent, philandering waste of flesh. I put up with it from the time I was fifteen until I had my son. I walked away thinking that no one would ever want me because I was a worthless piece of trash, but my son smiled at me every morning like I was an angel, and that, to me, outweighed the sheer terror I felt at branching out on my own with a small baby.
I told you all of this. I told you about the beatings and the drug abuse and the squandering of money and the pawn shops and the times I listened to my newborn cry because he was hungry and his father was out drinking at a bar. I told you about the women, my god, the women, and the verbal assault he waged on me for years and years. I told you about the struggle to overcome my feelings of inadequacy and trying so hard to meet people's eyes so that I could keep my job as a waitress. I told you about the times, not TIME, you motherfucker, the TIMES he stood me against a wall, naked, and voiced his disgust and said things to me to ensure that I would be self conscious and awkward for years to come. I told you about his spitting on me after he had beat me into submission and how he beat my dog, my sweet, innocent beagle, just to hurt me. I told you about his attempt to kill me and my regaining consciousness as he was backing his truck up to the front door in order to get rid of my body. I was 8 weeks pregnant with our son when he did that. I told you that, also.
Now let's see what he had to use against me:
See that up there? I'll tell you what that is. IT'S NOTHING. Nothing. I don't use drugs, never have, I didn't drink, I had no criminal record and I wanted nothing more in this world than someone to love me as much as I loved them. I found that in my son and you took that away from me.
Because I was going to school at night and waiting tables during the day, I couldn't be a good full-time parent. "Get a regular job and we'll see about changing things, maybe giving you joint custody", you said. You basically told me to quit school, drop below the poverty level and ensure that I would effectively live there for the rest of my life if I wanted a shot at joint custody. Not a sure thing, just a shot at it. And then, the piece de resistance, you assigned child support in an amount that flung me below the poverty line any-fucking-way.
Before I was carried out of the courtroom that day, I made a promise to myself. That promise was that I would have no more children. I knew that my son was lost to me because his father was an evil, selfish man who would stop at nothing to see my spirit crushed.
And I was right.
He found a new girlfriend a scant one month later, moved her in by my son's 1st birthday, and then they moved. And moved. And moved again. They went running with my son and their two kids and no one would help me. The Attorney General dragged me into court to assess my financial situation and increase child support, but no one would tell me where that money was going. I was told years later that my baby boy wanted nothing to do with me. I shuffled through life, broken and sore, and somewhere in the midst of all that, I stopped believing in anything.
Fate brought my child back to me last year. He has suffered through 10 years of verbal and physical abuse. He came to me with nothing because he had nothing. His father pawned his bicycle, for shit's sake. He is old and tired, but not broken. No, not this one. He is spirited and loving. He is thoughtful and wickedly bright. He is awkward with affection, but eager to give it. He has suffered and no child should ever have to suffer. He has been made to feel, by his father's girlfriend, much like I was made to feel by his father. All because he wasn't hers. He has been used as a babysitter and whipping boy for most of his childhood. He is fraught with neurosis because he thinks he's ugly, he's fat and he's stupid. In reality, he is handsome, built like a kid going through normal awkward hormonal changes, witty and intelligent. His teacher's have said he is one of the most gifted children they have ever taught and that makes me proud in a way that I've never experienced before.
I think of you often, Judge Clayton. I thought of you when we were at Six Flags and my son wanted to go into the park on his own, but he is too painfully shy to do so. I thought of you this morning when I watched him pluck at his clothing and adjust it twenty times to hide his body as much as possible. I think of you when I watch him walk with his head down, looking at the ground, not meeting anyone's eyes. I think of you when he checks his email, EVERY SINGLE DAY, and I see the disappointment on his face when there's still no word from his father. I thought of you when, through my tears, I had to tell him the truth about what happened that day and that I hadn't given him to his father and said I didn't want him, as he's been led to believe all these years. I thought of you every year on his birthday when I wondered where he was and if he was getting any birthday presents since mine were always returned in the mail. But most of all, I thought of you on Mother's Day, when my arms ached with a need to hold the child that I didn't know but still fiercely loved, and my heart died more with each year that went by.
I hope that you've learned to listen since then. I hope that you haven't hurried through your decision and that you have honestly tried to do what was best for each and every child. I hope that there are no more children out there, alone and afraid, thinking their mother didn't care about them because you had your head too far up your own ass to see that a mother who only wanted the best life she could offer her child was a far better parent than the man with the easy smile and the wealthy family. I hope that I never have to think about you again, and one day, when my son realizes his own worth and knows what a gift from heaven he has been to me, I hope to be released from the hatred I've carried for you all these years.
But my most fervent hope is that my son finds a way to love himself like he has taught me to love myself this last year. It is the best gift that anyone could have ever given me and it has allowed me, for the first time in my life, to feel as though I deserve Chris, this special man, who only touches me with love and tenderness. I have been able to be proud of the parent I've been to my daughter, instead of concentrating on all the bad things that could happen and all the hurts of the past. I feel like my life is beginning and I owe my incredibly wise son for that. If I can find a way to undo all the shame and pain that has been inflicted on him, I will finally be able to truly relax and enjoy this fragile family that has been formed between three damaged hearts and one bright, shiny new one. And you will be a memory that holds no power over me anymore.
Ok. I knew that would get your attention.
So, here I am, at 3 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, drooling on myself because I have to work for a living instead of sitting home, bossing the nanny around, screwing my personal trainer and fostering a dependancy on vodka and Xanax like any self-respecting American woman.
So...take a look at the incredibly shitty picture on the left. That, my friends, is me in Florida, where the humidity is often compared to that of the humidity in a Turkish steambath.
While filming a gay porno.
I know, that was a shitty thing to do and you're thinking to yourself, "Great. Now I'll think about fat, hairy naked men all day", but it could be worse. You could have the mental image of them all sweaty and pounding away at each other and we don't want that.
Anyway, perched on my shoulder are Corona & Captain Morgan. They are trying to be coy and act like they're not thinking, "Holy shit, do you see her chest? She must have 10 pounds of bird seed stuffed in there! Just play it cool. You take out her eyes and I'll go for the mounds."
Meanwhile, I'm thinking (and you could clearly see this written all over my face if the picture weren't so crappy), "If you shit on me, I will drop kick you straight into the fan."
So, sorry about the quality of the picture. As I said, I'm at work, my resources are limited, and I'm leaving after work for Six Flags St. Louis for the sole purpose of scaring the bejeesus out of my son so that I can have a couple of chuckles at his expense. (One day, criminal psychologists will read this in an attempt to understand why my son chopped me up and fed me to his poodle)
Anyway, many moons ago, when she was pregnant with the second of their rotten kids and we were all in Midland, Texas, engaged in a custody battle over my son, Jack went with me to one of the hearings for moral support.
As we're sitting there in the hallway, waiting for everyone to show up, we're watching all the other people mill around.
"Not a whole lot of hygiene in this room, is there?"
"Indeed. You've never met Regan, have you, Jack?"
"No. But I feel like I know her already, with all you've told me. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm just gonna walk behind her and see if I can spot her mark."
"Of the Beast."
"Oh. Holy Shit. Is that my ... ? Yes, it is."
"What? Where? No fucking way!"
"Yep. See the girl in the orange jumpsuit and shackles? No, the one with the mullet and lightning bolt earring. That's my cousin, Teresa."
"Wow. You weren't kidding about your family."
*sigh* "No, it's okay. No one ever really believes me until a moment like this."
About this time, Regan and David walk in the door at the end of the hall. Regan, who is 6'3" and built like a Russian aerobics guru, has donned a denim maternity dress for the occasion.
"Well, they're here. That's Regan." I am more than a little despondent because this whole custody process has been grueling. They are bleeding me dry in an attempt to to support their children and I hadn't been happy in months.
Jack glances over and does a double take. Again, I'm not surprised. Most people are shocked by Regan's mass.
As I stood up, Jack grabs me by the arm, spins me around and says, "Jesus! It must have taken 25 oompa loompas to roll her ass into that dress this morning! Roll!!! StapleStapleStaple! Roll!!!"
As I stood there in that dirty hallway, already the non-custodial mother of my toddler and my heart dying a little more each day, Jack made me laugh like I had just won the lottery because he knew that I needed that fortification for what was to come.
As I hugged my (now 12-year-old) son this morning before he got on the bus, that moment came back with perfect clarity. I love you, Dr. Jack. Thank you.
As you may or may not know, Memphis is an area saturated with racial tension. I myself couldn't give one tin shit who lives here, what color they are and what they do as long as they leave me and my kids alone and quit vandalizing my already sad and pathetic car.
The film revolves around this spooky woman and her fucked up, spooky-ass house. During this movie (and I won't say anything more than this on the off chance that you have nothing better to do with your money than sit for two hours and contemplate self-mutilation to alleviate the boredom as I did my god this sentence could feasibly go on forever), a guy that was so white he made me look cool utters this priceless, priceless line:
"You know the black ones never stay."
In the ensuing silence, you could have heard a gnat fart. As an honorary Cracker and Charter Member of the "Wow, I Really Can't Dance, Even When Drunk" club, I wasn't sure what to do. And then, from somewhere in the back of the theater, this reply:
"I know dat's right. Ain't no sista stupid enough to stay in that crazy muhfuckin' house."
And the place erupted once we knew that we could laugh at that line and no one would try to kill us. Chris had to guide me out of the theater because I couldn't stop snorting and leaking tears. I COULD NOT STOP, and it was basically a release of all the tension from the last week but I know I was drawing attention, so I was trying to hide my face in his shirt (which was great because it then looked like I was making out with his armpit and issuing little squeaks of orgasmic delight) out of fear of seeming insensitive and being brutally murdered in the parking lot next to my vandalized car.
God, I'm such a pussy.
Favorite line of the day? I was dressing my daughter this morning, rather impatiently, and she looked at me, frowned and said, "Mommy, you gave me a wedgie."
Oh, and I've never been married, but the rest of it is true. Without further ado....
It all happened so quickly.
One day, I was a pre-med student. I woke up the next morning and I was married to a rude, balding used-car salesman. Three days later, I was divorced, raising two precocious children and working as an insurance agent.
An insurance agent. It still makes me shudder.
So, there you find yourself at 6 a.m. on a Monday - shoveling more cereal into a Blue’s Clues bowl, and wondering what the hell happened to your plan to marry Jon Bon Jovi as you absentmindedly tell your five-year-old to stop dipping Barbie’s head into her Count Chocula.
“But, Mommy, it’s a milk bath. It’s good for her skin. Jeez.”
“Okay, sweety, but don’t forget to try to match your socks and keep your fingers out of your nose today,” you mumble as you fish a morsel of vampire breakfast out of your cleavage. You pop it into your mouth as you shuffle to your bedroom. It’s the only thing you’ll have time to eat until lunch, when you’ll pull out a box of low-fat, low-sodium, carb-free torture and inhale it while trying to earn enough commission to buy more clothes for your kids. You’re almost sure they’re taking steroids.
As you pass the hall mirror, you stop and take note of your appearance. A hairdo that would make Don King green with envy. A tattered robe in the most putrid shade of orange imaginable. You look like a giant Push-Up popsicle.
Glance at your feet. Pink bunny slippers, circa When-I-Could-Still-Get-Away-With-Wearing-Spandex.
You shut the bathroom door behind you and sit on the toilet lid. It’s a rare moment of peace. 12 nanoseconds later, there are tiny fingers creeping under the door and a singsong voice demands to know, “Mommy, are you pooping?”
You then escort each child to their bus stop or, if the dog didn’t eat your keys again and force you to follow him around with a baggie for 3 WHOLE DAYS OF KNUCKLE-GNAWING AGONY, drive them to school. Go in and remind the teacher that Virginia’s imaginary friend, Chester, passed away in a freak wakeboarding accident and that anything involving water will turn her into a swooning pile of snot and theatrics. Move along to work.
You then find yourself, 10 hours later, standing in front of the same mirror marveling at how this blouse has been washed every week for the last seven years and it’s still holding up.
Forcibly separate your teenage son from the phone, X-Box and the computer. Tell everyone to go to bed for the fifth time. Threaten to give them away to the creepy neighbors who name all their kids Earl if they don’t go to bed. Breathe a sigh of relief and then gasp in pain as you fall onto your mattress that is older than you are. Toss and turn as you have nightmares about Chester & Barbie wakeboarding in a giant bowl of milk.
Wake suddenly and realize there is a blanket over your head. Feel no surprise or shock whatsoever when, from next to you in bed, the same singsong voice proudly declares, “I farted, Mommy. Stinks, huh?”
Yes, this is my life. And I absolutely love it.
I saw your obituary today and it made it real. I had been coming up with all these conspiracy theories and telling myself that you were going to call and tell me it was a hoax born out of necessity due to all the conflict in your life or some such thing.
I was sitting in the dark in my bedroom with Chris last night. Virginia was watching some Barney Christmas special and they started singing, "Oh, Christmas Tree". Chris mumbled something about kids singing that song to him in school all the time. I asked why.
"Because of my name. Chris McKee. 'Oh, Chris McKee'."
That struck me funny and I started laughing. Then I felt guilty for laughing, and the laughter turned to sobs.
Everytime I think I'm finally getting my mind around this, another bout of sadness washes over me. I know that's normal, but I've never felt anything like this, so it's not normal to me.
People want me to eat. I don't want to eat. Not only because I'm not hungry, but because it doesn't seem fair that you can't eat anymore. The weirdest thoughts go through my head like, "I shouldn't be vacuuming because Brian's dead" and "Why is it warm outside? It shoudl be cold because Brian's dead". This doesn't seem real to me.
I got irritated with Virginia this morning and then I was afraid to put her on the bus. I was afraid of how I would feel if something happened and my last attitude toward her was irritation.
I'm so sorry, Brian. I'm sorry I yelled at you last week and I'm sorry that you were a better friend to me than I was to you and I'm sorry for not understanding or trying to understand how much pain you were in. I'm sorry that I lied to you and told you that I had made a mistake and changed my mind. I only thought you needed to find your own way before anyone walked beside you.
I have regrets, so many, but that's not what is killing me. What's killing me is the thought of you there alone, scared and so, so lonely, and knowing that in your darkest hour, you didn't feel like you could turn to me. You always knew you were my best friend and you told me so many times that I was yours. Why did you not talk to me? Were you afraid that I would make sense?
I can't get that fucking song out of my head, Vincent, by Don McLean. I keep hearing that line, "But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."
You were not 'universally hated'. You were not a loser. You were not worthless. You were the best friend that I've ever had and I want you back. I want to continue our morning rituals, I want to hear the beautiful, rich timbre of your voice as you chastise me for the self-deprecation that drove you crazy. I did that on purpose because I loved to hear you lift me up. You could do that in a way that made me believe you.
Everyone keeps saying that you're at peace, now. My deepest fear is that you're not and you're in the dark somewhere, in a worse place than you were here. I prayed to God last night that he would accept you, even though you were skeptical of him. I hope he heard me.
I miss my friend. I keep hearing you, sobbing that day and begging me to let you go. And still, my heart screams no. I will never let you go. I can't.
I don't know if I can continue to write here. You were such a big part of this and I don't find much of anything funny, now. I guess that will change in time, but it would feel like a betrayal to you. When Chris hugs me, I feel like I'm betraying you, somehow, and I hate that because he's in pain watching me struggle through each day in such a humorless fashion. Laughter has always been such a healing emotion between us and I miss sharing that with you.
I thought this morning, "If he was in a dark place and you could trade places with him when you die so that he can be in a beautiful place, would you?" And I hate to say it because I feel like such a selfish fuck, but the answer is no. Being alone is my biggest fear, too. But I promise you this. I would stay there with you so that you're not so frightened. And we would walk. And talk and laugh. And maybe one day, we would find our way out of the darkness and have that drink on the veranda while we watch the sun set and hold hands. I'll see you again, someday, Brian, even if it's only in my dreams. I love you.
If God gave me a gift when it comes to writing, I fail miserably compared to Brian. He is the most eloquent, romantic and witty man I've ever known to put pen to paper. His letters left me breathless and I knew that trying to describe him would be futile. I would have been found wanting because there are simply no words to describe how loyal, loving, funny, charismatic, frustrating, incredibly genius and thoughtful he was. He was also enormously lost and lonely among what society called his peers. He was a broken soul and I desperately wanted to fix him. He loved me and supported me at times when I thought I had no one else and he gave me a confidence that I've never before known in my life.
My best friend, my beautiful friend Brian died on Saturday. I wasn't made aware of it until just a few moments ago because we live in different states and I had simply not been able to reach him. A family member finally called me to alert me to his passing.
As meaningless a gesture as it may seem, this is the only way I could think of to say goodbye because it had become a tease between us that you would never be showcased on my blog. I never wanted it to be like this.
I love you, I will miss you for the rest of my life and I'm so, so sorry, baby, that you never got your wish. I would give anything at this moment to have given that to you.
Chris & I went to his friends 22nd birthday celebration Friday night.
Something that few people know about me is that I suffer from social anxiety. If I have to walk into a room with more than 3 people in it, I freeze. People at social functions have often inquired as to whether or not I am mentally handicapped because I will sit in a corner with a moronic smile plastered to my face and answer such questions as, "Hi, how are you?", with lightning quick retorts like, "I didn't fart!"
If I have to walk into a room of twenty-somethings, the anxiety is multiplied by ten. I don't know why. I think it reminds me of being in high school and, for me, being in high school was like a four-year nightmare, complete with animal corpses and algebra.
Chris' friend, Jeremy, was turning 22. I was physically ill when we pulled up to the bar, Mel's, and got out of the car. After many, many reassurances and reminding me that there was a pool table (which will cause me to salivate. I love me some pool), I reluctantly followed him inside.
Once inside, while Chris and Jeremy greeting each other and I was looking for a place to piddle on myself in peace, the smallest, most delightful Southern girl I have ever encountered grabbed my hand, pumped it with the enthusiasm of one born to greet and drawled, "I'm Amanda, Jeremy's girlfreeyund. It's so naawwce to meet yewwwww!!!" As I was mumbling something to the effect of, "I fleeb whisknit", it was fortunately drowned out completely by the bellowing of a karaoke singer and Jeremy's father, Steve, grabbing me by the waist and declaring, "I"m a'gonna hang out with this purty little girl!"
I was genuinely starting to feel more comfortable by the minute and everyone in Jeremy's birthday party did their best to make sure that it happened. They were seriously some of the most genuine, fun-loving people I have ever met, including Jeremy's eighty-year-old Papaw, who was, in Jeremy's words, "drunk as hell over thar in the corner".
Some of the highlights of the evening:
- Jeremy's dad is renowned for his prowess with women. Upon asking him what he had done to run off his first 3 wives, I was met with this response: "Aww, hell, I guess they caught me fuckin' around." The fact that he seemed unsure was the funny thing.
- The large, scary and rather androgynous woman who danced like she was caught in a pinball machine trying to sing a country song in the style of Metallica. I think I hurt myself while trying to catch my breath during furious bouts of uncontrollable hee-hawing.
- Steve telling me about the time some neighbor brought "special" brownies to a family gathering. He went into the kitchen some time later to find Papaw with one in each hand, eating quietly and contentedly. "My seventy-five- year-old dad is staindin' thar eatin' about a' pound o' Primo. Now when we have git together's, all he wants to know is if that feller is bringin' them brownies, agin."
- In the same conversation, Steve told me that Jeremy's friend, Joey, practically grew up in his house. Joey is like a sphinx. Quiet, solid as a rock because he is a rodeo contender, and somber. Steve glances at him, then back to me. "You shoulda seen him when he was little. Short lil' old fat kid with great big rosy cheeks. He came up to me sayin', 'Mr. Steve! Mr. Steve! I'm dizzy!'. Ended up in the hospital and by next week, he was shootin' insulin ever' day. That's why he lost all that weight. Cos' they took all his damned sugar away from him." He told this same story no less than three times, and each time he would dissolve in giggles which would, in turn, cause me to giggle. We sounded like we had eaten the special brownies. During all of this, Joey never said a word. At some point a few minutes later, Jeremy shared with us that his Dad had slept with Joey's mom, too. It seemed no woman was safe from Steve's penis.
- A conversation between Steve and Jeremy:
Steve: "Hey, son, did you see your high school tutor in here a lil' bit ago?"
Jeremy: "No. Wait...how do you know my high school tutor?"
(Silence and a smile)
Jeremy: "Awwww, you naysty motherfucker."
- Jeremy's girlfriend grinding on some old man while Chris and I looked on in horror. Jeremy's response? "That's my neighbor, man. I cain't do nothin' to my neighbor."
- Apparently, it is customary among young men to try to ensure that they have no gonads left to carry on the family name because Jeremy and a friend of his smashed each other in the nuts no less than six times. During a nut-crushing intermission, Jeremy attempted to cut in on said friend who was at the time dancing with Amanda. Said friend wasn't giving up his dance partner and Jeremy wasn't giving up his attempt, so they all ended up dancing in a tangled mess of cowboy and debutante that was hilarious to behold. Joey, who had said not a word all night and still hadn't moved from his position, glanced over and muttered, "And they call me gay."
As we were saying our goodnights, Steve asked me if I genuinely liked pool. I said yes.
"Are ya any good?"
"She's good," Chris answered.
"Well, hell, come up here and play. We need a girl on our team. You wanna practice, you jest call me cos' I live across the street. I'll come up here and we'll play."
His fourth wife is watching this exchange very closely.
"I'd love to. I'll take you up on it," I replied.
I have a feeling that Mrs. Steve will be developing an interest in pool very, very soon.
The first day.
The tears started when we got there. There were murmurs meant to soothe and fierce hugs. The tears continued and the teacher quietly placed a box of tissues on the desk next to us before walking away. Just when I thought the flow of tears would never stop, Virginia looked up at me and said, "Jeez, Mommy. Will you stop crying, now? I'll be fine. Just go on. You have to go home and put on more makeup."
The little shit had been there approximately 7.2 nanoseconds before making a new friend. I think I was more disappointed that she didn't seem the least little bit intimidated. She didn't need me. She wasn't at all like I was on my first day. I was the anxiety-ridden bouncing Zoloft egg.
Thanks be to my brave and wonderful little girl for making the first day of school so easy for Mommy.
Merlin Will Remain In The Hallway
As I was standing in the hallway, stalking my daughter, a little boy walked out of the kindergarten class across the hall and laid down on the floor. His name was Merlin. No shit.
The teacher walked out and looked down at him.
"Merlin, you're missing a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends."
"I'm just going to stay here and wait for my Mommy," he sobbed.
I could not have been more impressed when the teacher, completely undeterred, picked up his feet, grabbled his ankles and gently pulled him into the classroom like a sack of flour while reminding him about all the fun things they were going to do that day.
10 minutes later, Merlin was back in the hallway, prostrate on the floor and the cycle was repeated.
Go hug a teacher today. Or throw them a twenty spot. Seriously.
He looks left, looks right, looks left again. Then looks to me for guidance.
My son is twelve. Chris is twenty-five, 6 feet tall and built like a lumberjack and this man couldn't figure out who my child was. Four things went through my head:
1. Chris must look really, really young.
2. I must look really, really old.
3. The educational system is in a sad state of affairs when you have to seriously consider that a grown man might be in junior high. I don't care if we are in Mississippi.
4. If I have given birth to a "child" that size, I'd be living outside of Fraggle rock and trying to catch those little fuckers.
As per usual, I blame it on the boobs. He must have assumed I breastfed.
So, I'm sitting here, IN MY OFFICE, trying to eat a grilled chicken salad when two of the very nice women I work with randomly walk into my office and start discussing their weight. An innocuous subject, sure. But not to me, oh no. So, I'm sitting here and I'm trying to block them out and wondering, what the fuck, did the water cooler get moved into my office and I just haven't noticed it yet? And they're discussing weight, which leads to size, which leads to clothing and BAM! I'm involuntarily envisioning both of them naked. Christ.
And I'm thinking, I wonder if I just bury my whole fucking face in this salad and start making grunting and slurping noises, a la Randy Parker in "A Christmas Story", if they'll get the hint and GET THE FUCK OUT WHILE I'M EATING.
Out of curiosity, I googled his name and found an email address for someone in his area with the same name.
Now, Jack has a very unique name, so I was almost certain that it had to be him. However, I had done the same thing a few years before and left various messages on some person's answering machine, messages increasing in desperation and intensity until the last one was something like, "Ok, so if you're mad at me for something I did, I don't know what it is that I did and you need to call me back and at least tell me if you're mad at me for something I did. I'm sorry if I did something to make you mad, but at least let me know that you hate my guts and never want to speak to me again and I'll quit calling. I swear." Sanity, thy name is Prozac!
After a couple of days had passed with no reply, I was certain that he was still mad at me for grabbing his dick one night in bed. (We were roommates for a period of time. Me grabbing his dick garnered much the same reaction I would imagine Clint Eastwood would have if that really fruity guy from Queer Eye grabbed his cajones. Only Jack didn't bust out the World's Largest Handgun and growl, "Punk", before blowing my brains to kingdom come. But I know he wanted to) I was sad, but resigned to never hearing him lecture me about the healing powers of bizarre science fiction books ever again.
A couple of nights ago, my phone rang. My son and I were sitting on my bed discussing the upcoming shopping excursion to buy his new school clothes (a conversation that included such phrases as, "I so don't want you picking out my boxers" and "I will make you go to school naked, so help me God, if you don't wear everything we buy at least three times before some mysterious fucking hole appears in it.") and he answered. His brow furrowed. "Who? I think you have the wrong number....oooooooo k........" and he hands the phone to me. I look at him with my crazy eyes because he knows better than to hand the phone to me unless it has been confirmed that I will not be speaking with someone who wants money from me. He shrugs and gives me that, "What do you expect? I'm 12.", look. I warily answer.
"Mawty! Is this Mawty?? You cheap beaystud!" (Translation: Morty, Is this Morty, you cheap bastard. In your best Northern accent)
I almost dropped the phone. Years ago, this was the skit that Jack and I would play out whenever we would call each other. You do it really loud, really obnoxiously, and try to get as close to a Brooklyn accent as humanly possible.
After we fell to pieces over each other, we caught up with one another. Now, I told you that this man is funny. He could have made a career out of making people laugh. I laughed harder than I had in years while talking to him. Here are some excerpts from our conversation. Jack, if you're reading this, forgive me if it's not verbatim. I couldn't write that fast.
(While talking about our job at Abuelo's when we were barely out of our teens)
Jack: "And what was with those uniforms? We looked like we were heading into guerrilla warfare. 'Excuse me, I thought I was getting a job serving food, not running into the jungle to kill people'."
(Discussing his impending Doctorate. He has a very, very unique last name. I won't say it for obvious reasons, but suffice it to say that it's about as unique as 'Zeus')
Me: "Ooh! Oooh! Make your Dad call you Dr. Zeus, oh please oh please?!" (His father has always been terribly hard on Jack and more or less told him he would never amount to anything. DOCTOR! TAKE THAT ZEUS, SR!)
Jack: "No, I won't make him call me that. But I will make my younger sister refer to me as Dr. Zeus. That's the rule. Ya know, that all younger siblings refer to you as 'Doctor'."
(Discussing Midland, Texas, where we met)
Jack: "You know, that place really is the asshole of the universe. Whenever I'm talking to someone about it, I don't even say it by name, I just say, 'You know, the asshole of the universe?' and they go, 'Oh, yeah, Midland, Texas, right?'"
(While talking about his mother's health)
Jack: "I don't know. She's not well, but remember my grandma? It's something the women in my family do. They're fine, then they get sick and die for 40 years."
(Discussing his father)
Jack: "Well, he moved to Florida, cos' that's where all the old people go to die."
(When discussing Russell, the guy I had a huge crush on that Jack could not begin to fathom)
Jack: "Oh. My. God. Russell the Love Muscle."
I can't get that phrase out of my head now. You beaystud.
I don't remember what else we talked about. I know that there was much laughter and I cursed my cell phone to hell when it died, mid-conversation.
Jack, I can't wait to talk to you, again. Oh, and in case I didn't tell you, I still consider our pact to marry one another if we're still single at 40 valid. Start picking out china patterns, motherfucker!
One of the things that I've been particularly sensitive to is my lack of friends. I have a few really good friends, all male, who call me every so often to check on me and make sure I'm not in prison or recovering in the hospital. I have no female friends. I assume that the males hang around because I have mutinous boobs that, at times, manage to thwart my attempts to constrain them and I unwillingly end up flashing various people, much to my horror. It usually ends up being the lesbian upstairs or a nun taking donations outside of Wal-Mart, so it gives the guys one more reason to laugh at me.
I have misplaced a few friends over the years and I can't seem to find them or figure out where they've gone. Much like the mates to most of my socks.
As you can see, I've just compared old friends to missing socks. I can't imagine why they're not showering me with Hallmarks and friendship bracelets.
Anyway, when I think back on the friends that I've had, one thing or another that I remember about them causes a pang of nostalgia and I wish that I could talk to them and catch up. I'll tell you a little about each of them.
Shiloh - Yes, I named you after a Neil Diamond song. Yes, I've always been this cool. You weren't real, but you were my first friend. We moved so much when I was growing up that I never developed normal social skills. I was, at best, socially retarded and you were okay with that. You didn't mind that I wet the bed or rocked myself to sleep. You never made fun of me for looking like Howdy Doody, complete with a trillion freckles and a gap in between my front teeth that was big enough to eat through. You left when I was eight. I miss you at times because you remain the only friend I've ever had who agreed that "The Rainbow Connection" by Kermit the Frog is the most perfect and philosophically sound piece of music ever recorded. The rest of you can suck a dick.
Jennah - You replaced Shiloh. I met you when we moved to Kuwait and I was enrolled in a British school, much to my chagrin. When I showed up the first day, the tallest student in the school, carrying my enormous green Incredible Hulk lunchbox and staring at the floor, you were the only one who didn't refer to me as "that bloody American" all year long. You were half American and half Kuwaiti and very aware of what it felt like to be different. When our Grammar teacher rapped my knuckles for the hundredth time for saying "ya'll" and, in an apoplectic fit unlike anything I've ever experienced, I called her a limey cunt, you laughed, unabashedly and gleefully, while the other students looked on in complete horror. I loved you for that and I wonder if you made it out of Kuwait before the ridiculousness of politics and religion destroyed one of your homelands.
Lori - I met you when I was twelve. You were a pathological liar who got me into trouble like it was your job, you constantly made fun of me because you had bigger boobs, and you stole my pseudo-boyfriend by luring him away with promises of groping privileges and tongue kissing. I hated you and I hope you're living out of a dumpster, selling that nasty pussy for crack. Oh, and take a look at the picture of my tits, now. Bitch.
Donna - I just want to say that I'm sorry for telling you I knew how to perm hair. And I'm sorry for telling you that the toilet paper in your bra looked natural. Oh, and I'm sorry for telling Robbie Sweeney that you french kissed his picture in the yearbook every night. And just in case you still remember, I'm sorry for telling you that using Nair on your eyebrows was a common practice and they would look perfectly normal. I'm sorry for penciling in the subsequent scars and convincing you to go to school, assuring you that no one would notice. On second thought, nevermind. You're probably institutionalized and won't ever see this, anyway.
LeAnn - I hope that the jewelry you "borrowed" from me incited some junkie to clunk you over the head and rip it from your cold, dead hands. Fucking thieving whore.
Noelle & Karen - we were the three amigos in Malta. Noelle's father was the American Ambassador and she did everything in her power to give him a heart attack. Karen was the daughter of a struggling single mom and taught me how to properly smoke a cigarette. I was somewhere in the middle and mostly the voice of reason. Noelle took a bet one night that she couldn't drink an entire bottle of wine in one continuous swallow. She won. Later, riding in the back of the Ambassador's car, she turned to Karen.
"Karen, are you my friend?"
"Yes. Shut up, Noelle, or your dad will know you're drunk."
She then turned to me.
"Crystal, are you my best friend?"
"Yes, yes, Noelle. Shut the hell up. I don't particularly care to be deported when your dad finds out that we let you pull that stunt."
She gave me a beatific smile and projectile vomited all over me. She had eaten fish for dinner.
On second thought, I don't miss anything about that particular night. Jesus.
Jack - my big, gay friend. You were by far the funniest person I ever knew. It still brings a smile to my face whenever I think of you telling me that we would make a scorching couple in a parallel universe. You convinced me to "shut up and take the money", drove me home on my 21st birthday after I threw up on the manager of Bennigan's, cried with me when I lost my son and taught me how to quit a job with flair. You throwing your apron down on the floor of Abuelo's, in the middle of a lunch rush, screaming, "Fuck you! I will not be oppressed by your fascist ideas and tacky dress code!", turning on your heel and striding out the door is still one of the most classic moments I've ever been privileged to witness. How my heart aches when I think of you and how empty my life is without you.
To each of you, thank you. You taught me fundamental things about life and myself, and assured me that no matter how bizarre and dysfunctional you are, someone will understand and maybe even love you for it.
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