Saturday, April 30, 2005

In Order To Form a More Perfect Union

"We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

- Preamble to the United States Constitution, which I can sing thanks to Schoolhouse Rock and Saturday morning cartoons.

Mamie and I drive around and around the mall parking lot. Macy's is having a huge three-day sale which, we surmise from the congestion on Route 1, the ponderous mall entrance and the packed handicapped parking spaces, is especially cutthroat. We are in the right frame of mind for the hunt. Armed with coupons, credit cards and a precise shopping list, we are going to:

1. find a parking space if we have to assault nuns and grab either end of a Volkswagen to do it;
2. sneak up on our prey, grab it by its sale tag and swing it over our heads like a wet tshirt on a Daytona Beach bar during spring break.

Now that I'm old enough to be two girls gone wild, I often gather I grasp what's what. Anything I don't actually need is disappearing from my life faster than decent fiction from bestseller lists. However: proper foundation garments, styles and extenders aside, are eternal and comfortable; quality footwear is our gift from a loving God - and God alone will help anyone in our way. We pick up a dozen bras where bras are Buy Two, Get One Free and stuff ourselves into a dressing room. After four brands, four styles and three different sizes, it suddenly occurs to us at the same time: my weight has redistributed itself, and my bra size has significantly changed. Our worlds are rocked! Mamie says, "Your ribcage is broad for 5'2" but you could use a size smaller and a cup larger. If that doesn't fit I'll eat my shoes!"

On the sales floor, it is a whole new expedition because nothing in the strange new size crossed our line of sight before, and finding something will be a Say-Hallelujah-Say-Amen-Miracle. We find five. A choir of angels sings as we approach the cash register line. Suddenly, over on the other side of the room, I see mannequins in a shape and style I've never seen before and the Miracle is o-v-e-r.

"Goddamn it, Mamie. Look at that!" I blurt at an unguarded volume. Twenty feet directly ahead stand mannequins modeling Calvin Klein and DKNY bras and panties. The brands aren't the problem. The mannequins have normal size hips, unusually narrow ribcages and inhumanly narrow waists. Now that I've seen the waists, they're all I can see, and I can't shut up. "That is disturbing! Women aren't shaped like those mannequins."

"Everyone says that," the cashier smiles.

"That is disturbing!" I am now shouting. "What is the matter with Macy's that those unbelievable, inhuman clothes dolls are displaying underwear this idiotic retailer wants me to purchase with my exceptional credit?"

"Everyone says that, too," the cashier smiles. "Everyone also says they're a bad example for teens. Anorexia!"

"No," Mamie says firmly, "Those mannequins depict bodies that've worn corsets all their lives. That's binding. They don't belong here."

"They're certainly hypocritical wearing padded bras without underwire," I squawk. "Those mannequins should come with diagrams of misshapen and useless internal organs -" Nobody - no Soccer Mom, no overmanicured employee, no self-absorbed teen - bats an eye. Nobody looks up. Nobody cares. Mamie, concentrating on our next stop in her favorite department, pays for my bras on her Macy's card. She knows I'm frustrated and getting louder and those mannequins are a-goner if she doesn't do something drastic. Mamie grabs her card, the merchandise and the sales slip. She gestures with her chin and says slyly, "You know, that's not just a special clown suit, I would swear it was custom made..."

"In the name of all that is holy, WHO PUT THAT WOMAN IN ORANGE? Has her religion outlawed mirrors? That collar went out with the sinking of the Spanish Armada! MAMIE! THAT POOR SICK GIRL HAS COME OUT IN PLAID!" I scream - not that anyone hears me. We've followed the clown suit a few yards, then taken the escalator to Cosmetics where for no earthly reason a DJ is spinning the greatest hits of 1978 at a volume sure to reduce our brains to Wheatina if the selections don't. An artist is painting a living, breathing, almost humanly proportioned model to match a very chic pink, orange, green and blue handbag. So there it is.

In Intimate Apparel, the displayed female form speaks of distortion, suffering and binding; in Cosmetics, the female form is a decorative container, a kicky accessory. I stare at the customers who've never seen a person trade her personhood for their very momentary amusement and to pay this month's cable bill. At least, you'd think they'd never seen it before and never done it themselves. At this moment, not one of these women thinks of herself as an economic whore, not one thinks of herself as diminished by what she sees. I do the only thing I can do in the face this monolithic denial, shame and self-hatred: follow Mamie into Ladies' Shoes and shut up. Here, the lesson is reiterated in a new form: Mamie, who is tall and wears a proportionate size, tries on dress shoes and concludes that that amount of pain ought to be followed by a lucrative settlement. Since we've made the strategic error of setting foot in Macy's without a legal team, we leave without dress shoes.

I get it. I do. The disconnect between body and middle-class person couldn't be clearer. And yes, I do know exactly what I'm saying: no wonder so many women voted for Bush.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Up To My Swan-Like Neck In It

Every day, my many admirers call or write. Sometimes their message is plaintive: without me, they languish. They suffer! Oh, how they suffer but would suffer more if they had never known me. This week, they tell me the New York Dolls play in the City, though one wonders if anyone perused liner notes and recalls who used to be in that band. Next week, the Supersuckers and Reverend Horton Heat. Tomorrow, Tea Bag and Instant Death at the Court Tavern. A girl's got only so much complexion to sacrifice on the altars of punk rock and seigobilly before she's photographed for posterity as the Mother of the Bride. Mamie says, "Our generation refuses to grow up."

My many admirers present me with gorgeous, effusive love notes. "Darling," they read, "An important amendment to your account terms is enclosed. Discover the freedom to access extra cash! Use the enclosed checks today!"

My many admirers bring news from far and near: the older gentleman who knocked on my door and permitted me the simple pleasure of assisting him at a difficult moment was reported missing three weeks ago. I stand at my living room window in the late afternoon glow, surveying the lovely new leaves on the city's trees, and as hope wanes I wish I knew where oh where he could be.

My many admirers advise that the family's current cancer drama has reached an intermission between surgeries and radiation treatment. This is a welcome development indeed in a story not mine to tell, as temporarily, no blood relations ask to see my medical records. Alas, the answer is, "My dulcet darling, please bite me." My admirers would know if I were ill simply because, given a brief period to live, I'd pick up cartons of menthols and a case of gin on the way to the tanning salon, where I'd refuse eye protection and nibble a second grilled hot dog.

My many admirers wish for my every happiness, of course, and praise me endlessly. They can't help themselves. This morning, I taught a four-year-old to throw paper airplanes from a concealed location, guaranteeing her high school popularity with people who love food fights because you just can't go wrong with the classics! My selflessness is so beautiful it almost hurts.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I Love the Nightlife. I've Got to Boogie!

Jazz over at Running Scared had too much time on his hands last week. I can always tell. He issues demands. Nothing is more hilarious than hearing the positively scandalous things other people say about us, so he demanded Poor Impulse Control get trackback. Mamie, who fixes every broken thing at PIC but me, added this trackback whatsis, which came with comments. Not only can we at PIC hear you stage whispering from the other side of the net, now we can also hear you at close range, where we can tap you on the shoulder and remind you we're, um, related. Or married to you. In Arkansas. At least.

Gossips! Start your engines!

Sadly, gossip is not enough to feed the Hungry-Hungry-Hippo-like imagination starved for little white lies and outright fabrications. When I say Jazz had too much time on his hands, I mean this kind of free time usually comes with an ankle bracelet. He issued a second demand, and it's gut-busting genius.

Political blogs now have tip lines. You can, you witness you, tip off your favorite blogger to history in the making. Yeah, yeah, that's great if you care about facts. Or history. Or other people, I suppose. Jazz proposes readers send in tips and total fibs - ABOUT ME! What outrageous, fiendish and uproarious thing have you seen me doing? What fine-inducing mayhem am I currently concocting? WHERE THE HELL AM I? Use the email address under that fine portrait of Grandma's faux fur at the top of this page and lie, lie, lie about me - especially if we've never laid eyes on one another! Tip off us Poor Impulsives with bold fish tales and we'll publish whatever makes us spit coffee at our monitors.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Nine Million Daylight Daughters

Margot is spring cleaning:

I am cleaning out my office and unearthed a forgotten card that has Maxfield Parrish's painting The Reluctant Dragon, of a gentle dragon sitting with a peasant boy, a small fiefdom in the distance... I bought it years ago because it reminded me of a dream I'd had. Much to my surprise, I'd forgotten that I had written the dream inside the card. My dream more or less as follows: Once there were many dragons...There was a small dragon (I seem to recall the "littlest dragon" bandied back and forth) who was fond of humans, especially one child. When the time came for dragons to leave this realm, the little dragon wanted to stay behind be with the kid. An elder had compassion for the little dragon and told him that if he wanted to stay behind, he could, but he would be bound in another form. He bade the little dragon to sleep, and when the dragon opened his eyes, he saw that he was a cat, safe to watch over his boy.

When I woke from the dream, my cat was on the bed, licking an extended paw, as if to say, "Now you know."

A light rain is falling outside tonight. She knows I seldom sleep. Margot knows my dreams are so vivid I wake up exhausted when I *do* sleep. My dreams have three different plots I won't get into without a psychologist waving a prescription pad, but there's one I will tell you. It's so specific I hate to think about it.

In this dream, I am a tall, thin blond girl with very white skin. My ragged dress, filthy and smeared with something brown, is very light blue. Smoke is in the air. A crowd gathers. I am sick, so sick, with fear, but the thing I am sharply, painfully conscious of is that I am standing on raw wood, sticks and twigs. My feet - in the dream and in waking life - are used to being bare, used to the snap and give of the smallest bits of wood, but now this sensation comes with a flood of churning horror. It feels like it's happening now; it doesn't feel like a dream. I wake up gasping for breath.

It may come as no surprise that every person I tell this to averts his or her eyes and says, "I'm sorry." You may find yourself doing it now. The Wiccans look fatigued. Christians make dubious faces but say sleeping pills really help, which is kind of telling. Catholics wince. Buddhists like Margot, who accept the idea of the past leaking into the present, nod. Eyes still averted, but they nod. Apparently, if you believe in reincarnation, you accept that you've been publicly murdered in brutal, disgusting ways at least a time or two. I don't know. I have no way of knowing anything worthwhile in this life. Margot, well-adjusted and sanguine, dreams in lovely Japanese fairy tales, but I dream about being slowly burned alive.

Maybe this accounts for my lifelong belief that nothing bad will happen to me when it's raining.

Let's welcome our new Pope, shall we? His little red wagon, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is the face of the Inquisition in our lifetime. I have the terrible feeling we've faced one another before.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Fine Line Between Love and Nausea

This morning, my email is out of commission so a number of people are, fortunately or unfortunately, not receiving the kind of verbal beatings that follow this:

1. We've been friends for thirty years. You keep a secret from me. Not an ordinary "I slept with your boyfriend" kind of secret, but a really big one.
2. I find out. And I find out you specifically didn't tell me.
3. After the murderous impulses subside, after I've stopped picturing you as a bloody pinata, after I've stopped trying to think of where I'm going to dump your corpse so as to confuse law enforcement officials in New Jersey where household pets received casual training in how to locate bodies downwind of the largest garbage dump in the world, after I've calmed down enough to make eye contact without trying to put soup spoons through your contact lenses, I rehearse conversations in my head. In these conversations, you get the point and never keep another big secret from me again, even if you *are* sleeping with my boyfriend.

Miss Sasha has inherited the quirky temper, but her fiance lacks the patience for diplomacy:

How's life? Things around here are crazy...David saw that I was stressed when I got back and did the responsible thing...he took me shooting! I got to use my new .22, it is great!

Well, it's nice to see my beautiful daughter carry on the tradition of violence-based peacemaking.

This time, I doubt I'll get past the stabbity stab stabbing fantasy anytime soon. I almost feel sorry for my colleagues at today's business lunch.

Perhaps there'll be lobster bisque?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hush! I'm On the Phone!

I'm on the cordless while putting away my laundry when I pick up the hamper near the window.

Me: Oh. My. God. There's a giant dead bee on the floor! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Him: A what?
Me: A giant dead bee. It is the size of Zimbabwe.
Him: A B? Like the consonant?
Me: No, like "bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!" If something were flying around my bedroom stuttering, "B-b-b-b-b" do you think I'd be squealing like a fool?
Him: I think a flying H would be better. You'd feel the menace.
Me: I'd call Easy Reader to exterminate.
Him: So it's a bee. Yellow and black?
Me: Who the hell knows? It's gone tits-up!

Will someone please come over to my house, remove the dead bee from the premises and explain to me when I became such a pussy?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Project: Princess & the Pea(tm)

Project: Princess & the Pea(tm) is a most exciting sustained undertaking to improve the quality of life for - well - Me, because isn't that what's really important? That I am happy? Of course it is. Let's review some of our terms, objectives, procedures and projections so you can join Project Princess & the Pea(tm) and add to the project's success and My happiness.

1. Hereafter, I will refer to myself as "Me" and "I" with concommitant use of related possessive pronouns. The reader should expect to see such references as "I don't see how this relates to Me" and "What about My needs?"

2. Hereafter, the reader will accept his or her responsibility for adding to My happiness or accept the consequences. Such consequences may include but are not limited to public ridicule, private ridicule and brief, embarrassing marriages in the Bahamas. Responsibilities vary from reader to reader, but lavish gifts and extravagant praise for Me are good places for anyone to start.

3. The persons occupying the house directly below My bedroom, bathroom and living room windows are in fact known to Me for many years. It's an interesting coincidence that they purchased this property. I actually like them very much. They're part of the local polyamory crowd. Hereafter, I will refer to them as "Those Fuckers Next Door" (TFND). I couldn't mean that more fondly.

4. Hereafter, the term "happiness" will always relate to Me, My or Mine; as in "Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!"

Project: Princess & the Pea(tm) seeks to improve My quality of life through simple, limited forms of revenge against TFND. The need for revenge stems from a 2004 incident in which TFND chopped down a very large, very old tree directly below My windows. I really liked this tree. When a purple lounge chair blew off the top of My apartment building, landed atop the tree and remained forty feet from My bathroom window for months, I was amused, and being amused measurably improved My quality of life. The tree also concealed - as I discovered when it was gone - two barrio-grade backyards I now see every time I gaze out the window. This view has a deleterious effect on My happiness.

I must avenge the death of this tree; preferably in a way that polishes up My karma. My intentions are the very best!

1. I open the living room window screen and lean way out.
2. I fling seeds as far across the row of backyards as the winds of revenge will carry them.
3. I wait.

Note 1. Timing is critical. Procedures 1-3 should be undertaken under the cover of darkness and when the threat of rain is imminent. Without rain, seeds are bird food. While that may amuse birdwatchers and their arch enemies the lovers of stray cats, dry and blowing seeds do not further the aims of Project: Princess & the Pea(tm).

Note 2: Choice of seed types is crucial to sustained amusement during the long waiting periods. After the dear tree came down, I was horrified to discover that the barrio-grade backyards contained layers of garbage, auto parts and discarded construction materials. Fortunately, this was keeping the mud in place during rainstorms so New Brunswick was in no danger from erosion. There's also a homemade doghouse for a large pet that no longer inhabits it. I say it's a doghouse because someone painted on a name:


It's a nice touch. With the dog gone, I worried TFND and their Neighbors, and *their* Neighbors might be lonely. Loneliness anywhere diminishes My happiness. The first time I threw seeds out the window, they were fast-growing and fast-spreading plants. The seeds were for fragrant, instantly recognizable plants everyone loves. Yes, everyone loves them, and I thought with the stray animal population TFND might find new friends. Yes, I gave them mint and catnip. My quality of life improved at the very thought of it.

Later, I thought, 'Why limit the bounty? What about some color?' Though I enjoyed the concept and the exercise, I admit the watermelons have been a disappointment. They require more care than the unsuspecting Neighbors devote to their curious foliage.

More recently, I threw out leek and carrot seeds in the hope that this would attract vegetarians. They too have their place on the food chain.

The future of My amusement is bright, a stated objective of Project: Princess & the Pea(tm). Suggestions and donations of interesting seeds are welcomed by the management.

You may find Project: Princess & the Pea(tm) has a practical application in your own neighborhood. It is important to remember that no harm must come to animals or their dumb humans as this would violate the objective of bringing Me happiness. And mint.

Thank you for your interest in Project: Princess & the Pea(tm)!

Friday, April 15, 2005

It's Getting Harder to Tell When We're Awake

Margot was living the dream of a clearer conscience. Then one day, the crystal ball fogged, someone cackled, "Poppies...poppies..." and the nightmare came to her:

Hi darling, how are you?

I think that I wrote to you that my company was bought by a mega corp that is heavily invested by Monsanto, 2 pharmas, Phillip Morris, Entergy Nuclear, Waste Management Inc, Citigroup, Bank of America, and a few others. What is scary about this? The nukes are for irradiating food, the WMI wants to use treated human waste as fertilizer for organics, Monsanto was the creator of genetically modified soy and corn...Hain-Celestial owns 100+ companies in the natural products industry, including a large soymilk company and several food companies that use grain, soy, corn...On and on it goes, the daisy chain of horror and end times. Me, I am reminded of the story of the fox and the scorpion...and our inevitable surprise and shock when we are indeed stung mid-river, only to have that ugly truth of self-responsibility reflected back at us as we sink into swift, deep waters.

The other night I actually had a work nightmare. I haven't had one in many years, and it was the work dreams that preceded my leaving my previous employer that first time. And I am tired of the mega pressure, no longer does it seem a worthy challenge. I long to be reflective and quieter. Where the 100 watt smile illuminates loved ones rather than for customers, and the eloquence and beauty that lives in my soul is used to inspire greatness, compassion and imagination rather than a smoother complexion or a sunless tan. (I ask myself: What is wrong with aging, anyway? We sell our souls to look like we are something we are not. And right now, it doesn't seem very important at all.)

I have become a distant dreamer that is trapped in the waking world, lost to sleep and dreams. I acknowlege that I got/get caught up in the material, the maya, the illusion. It is times like that this that force me to wonder: what happened?

I don't wonder what became of the old me(s), I don't think I could go back to being a hippie wanderer vegan herbalist, or a cog in the entertianment industry, nor any of the other many incarnations, even if I wanted to. What does the caterpillar think while it is in the chrysalis, does it know what is happening, changing into something that it can't even imagine? What it will become? That the necessary struggle to break free of the very thing that enabled its transformation is the very thing that will make it strong enough to fly?

I somehow doubt that it sits in its cozy sac watching CSI and XFiles and crying its uncertain little heart out, but who knows? Maybe. Perhaps this is the struggle that I must endure to find out if I will be strong enough to fly.

On the brighter side, I have been eating a lot of vegetarian food, not drinking coffee, and not smoking the chronic, so I am slim and thinking clearer, though incredibly emotional. That's a funny thing too. Sometimes I would kill to lose 10 pounds, but when I do, it is shadowed with the despair that for all that emotional struggle, what does it mean other than my pants fit better? No worlds were saved in the making of this waistline. I think the weed suppresses the expression of negative stuff, so it can build up like a septic tank. Today I dreamt that I touched my belly and it had actual abs. That's a first.

In the words of the austere wise man Austin Powers: "I'm spent."

It's like coming to a personal crossroads and finding the Devil's already paved.

She's a tough little mystic in thigh-high boots. I have every confidence she'll be hydroponic farming and goat shearing in no time, and somehow, she'll be totally hot doing it. I admire her determination to live both well and ethically, and her resistance to becoming a faceless corporate butt monkey.

Banana, anyone?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Dear Prince Charming,

That shoe thing was a real blast, especially the part where my sisters cut off their toes to shove them into my stilettos. Thank God we've got Lysol, huh? Now, I'm sorry to send you a note via carrier pigeon from the other end of the castle but it's going to take me all day to walk over there and I couldn't wait to tell you: this is no way to conduct a torrid affair. Criminy! I may be the ginchiest girl in the land, complete with talking mice and a fairy godmother waving magic sticks around like Jackie Chan on steroids, but that's all the magic stick waving we're doing around here. We haven't tried melding our record collections. Charming, we haven't even shared a bathroom or divvied up underwear drawers, so how can we say this ever after is so happily? I want some empirical proof, and you are going to give it to me, in person. Got that? Now, peel off your tights and and think of pumpkins.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Switching Horsemen in the Middle of My Apocalypse*

When you're an accomplished trollop, you either own it or pretend to have a prior engagement during Fleet Week. Mamie and I tried counting our lovers once and it was like we'd dropped a box of toothpicks. We gave up counting when we got down to fun details like, "Remember that guy who idolized you at that convention?"

"Who? The Chew Toy?"

"We were sharing a hotel room. That was the longest breakfast I ever ate."

"Yeah, thanks for clearing out. Did you know I'd hooked up with him the year before?"

"Maybe. Was I there the year before?"

"The year before, we turned a corner and found Emmy shampooing a bass player in the hotel sink."

"How did that whole man fit in a hotel sink? I swear he was nothing but broad shoulders and soapy bunny ears."

"Miracle. Best not to think too much about it. Can't be re-created in non-convention reality."

My memory is not great. In fact, if Mamie forgets the last fifteen years it could be argued by almost anyone who is not a blood relation holding Christmas gift receipts that I never lived. She and I have this conversation on at least a weekly basis:

Mamie: We were at this cool place and *this* was going on and that person was doing such-and-such, and this totally unbelievable thing happened next and we were all terrified and you -

Me: Me? I was there?

Mamie: And you did THIS UNIMAGINABLE THING! We evaded capture once again!

Me: I have no recollection of that. Huh! I'm SO interesting!

After the World's Best Divorce(tm) from my truly wonderful ex-husband, I was sure I'd never get remarried. It's been more than ten years and now I've started to wonder. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have that list of ex-lovers, so no one believes for a minute I'll be alone very long - or so I learned recently.

Me: Did you know that statistically speaking I stand a better chance of being struck by lightning than I do of getting married again at my age?

Mom: ...statistically, yes...

This is somewhat comforting: Mom thinks I'm enough of a harlot to find a new spouse if I want one. She would also prefer this time the spouse not be someone else's, but she's picky. Well, it's a fact you can't please everyone, because some people are members of your family, and that's illegal.

*With apologies to Mrs. Betty Bowers, whom I love with my whole black heart.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

It's As If We Dated In the Nineties

Last night, Blogger gave me fits and I couldn't remember if I knew how to fix the problem. After our tiff, I polished my nails - which takes hours; I'm from Jersey - and refused to make eye contact until Blogger saw things *my* way.

Last night, a man rang my doorbell. Through the peephole, I saw a face I didn't recognize. I saw it in profile. I asked, "Who is it?"

"Is mrhthhspphh home?" he asked. I almost laughed.

"I'm sorry, who?" I asked again.

"Is mrhthhspphh home?" he repeated. I'm not slurring a real name. He wasn't pronouncing one. This is the oldest trick in the home robbery book. You're supposed to open the door and politely ask your obviously speech-impaired visitor what he said and direct him to the proper address. He in turn pops you in the head, steps over you and steals your stuff.

I could've sent him to the door of the guy directly below me. His mail sometimes ends up in my mailbox and I've knocked on his door a few times to deliver it. He's gigantic. On the mental movie screen, I imagined the guy at my door twisted like a pretzel in the parking lot below my kitchen window where the guy downstairs tossed him and the interloper neglected to bounce. I didn't do that.

I could've sent him upstairs. "Sixth floor," I could've said. My building only has five. I'm not on the top floor so he might not have noticed on his way up. I didn't do that.

I could've said, "Second door on your left." That apartment's empty. He could've knocked all night but I would've gotten sick of him as an in-home percussion source pretty quickly so I didn't do that either.

"There's no one here by that name," I said, trying to sound really tall and as if I might have a black belt in something besides the Old Testament, though I wasn't exactly unarmed. He turned and left in a hurry. As they say, "I was born at night, but not *last night.*"

Sometimes you just want to say, "Hey, kid. Get a paper route or something because this larceny thing is just not gonna work out for you. When you rang the doorbell after ten o'clock everyone on the floor got a weapon and went their peepholes. Do you really want to explain to your friends how you were stabbed by a mob of old ladies and gay scholars?"

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Taking the Cake, Hazelnut Dance Mix

Miss Sasha calls almost daily with explosive wedding-related revelations. Did I know so-and-so said such-and-such and swore blah-blah-blah? There are only so many times I can hear soothing words fall from my own lips - "Don't worry, sweetheart, they're just fucking jealous of your classic beauty. I know how it can be..." - before I start chortling like Butthead and smashing my forehead on the coffee table. It's so difficult to be a caring Mommy!

Mamie and I decided to join the New Jersey Bloggers Ring, since we're blogging and can't make a break for the state line - something in the plea agreement, it's all a blur now...You'll find a tab in the righthand column connecting Poor Impulse Control to the rest of the dancers shouting, "It's electric!" So welcome, people who found us by accident! I hate to embarrass anyone, but even Miss Manners frowns gently when guests show up emptyhanded.

Next time, bring me a shiny object. I demand it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Why Do You Think I Have This Outrageous Accent?

"I get nervous when you speak French, because you're not from there."

- Mamie, reformed polyglot.

And you know those quitters, they're the *worst.*

Monday, April 04, 2005

Holy Moses! Is That Bush Burning?

My alarm rings just after 6 on weekday mornings, which sucks most days. Yesterday we rolled the clock forward so the alarm went off at what my body assumed was not "freaking 6" but in fact "God damn 5" in the morning. It makes a big difference. Most mornings, I could've shrugged off a priest on my local news show. This morning, I was on the stepper, stepping for all I'm worth in the semi-conscious state that permits me to exercise vigorously before I can talk myself out of it, when WABC's Lori Stokes interviewed this priest on the matter of the Pope. If the reporter was not actually Lori Stokes, I have no explanation for why I didn't leap off the exercise equipment and onto the remote. I like her. This interview was the softest soap I've ever seen. I talked this over with Mamie.

Me: So right around the 9-minute mark of my workout, he starts talking all this absolutely unbelievable, completely made-up crap about the Pope and I was thinking, 'Voodoo. Cheap parlor tricks. Nobody could possibly be buying the cheesy sleight-of-hand this charlatan's selling, could they?' His version of what's happening has as much relation to reality as those people who talk about fairies.

Mamie: Yeah? What was Father Lucky Charms saying?

Me: I wish I could tell you word for word but I was busy stepping, growling, trying to remain hydrated, assuring my cat I would soon be on the floor doing pushups, planning breakfast and some sort of outfit to wear to work that included - you know - less hypothetical clothing than last week. Wasn't it Douglass Adams who said people could only have a certain number of thoughts at the same time before some have to leave? I thought, 'Wait a second. One BILLION people believe this crap' and I forgot what he was saying.

Mamie: Exactly. Like unicorns.

This morning, I posted Johnny's straight-to-blog request, then got some angry email. Some of it was righteous. Some of it was bullshit. I conceded one point: one word in the text struck a nerve in a way that distracted from his point. I'm re-posting with that word replaced and asterisked - for which I apologize to him. I'm a free speech nut; sometimes free speech is uncomfortable for the listener. I'm also not in any way distancing myself from a frequent contributor to Poor Impulse Control just because his feelings about being a Catholic boy brought up in the Not-Acknowledged-By-the-Vatican-Catholic-Boy-Hellhole-That-Was-Boston offend people.

If you don't like what you're seeing, don't read any further. You know what you're in for.

Johnny can't contain himself:

I haven't prayed since Catholic school, but I'm praying today. I'm praying they hurry up and find something more interesting to talk about on the news than the death of the pope. First of all, I find it very hard to take the whole thing seriously, because my wife, another ex-Catholic, and I call our dogs' poops "popes," and we call pooping "making a pontiff." You can imagine the difficulty of keeping a straight face when people on the radio gas on about the worldwide impact of this pontificate. Seconal, if this idiot* weren't the so-called Holy Father, even my long-suffering still-Catholic mother would agree that, based solely on his opinions, the guy was a dumb fucking redneck, the kind of guy she and my dad held signs and protested against back in the sainted civil rights days, when even knowing black people was some kind of moral gold star, even though Floyd was their brother-in-law and if they wanted to see my mother's sister, not to mention their nieces and nephews, they were going to have to know him anyways. Do me a favor. If after I die, which shouldn't be long now, if anyone puts on a serious tone and starts talking about my great humanity and the richness of my spirit, fucking kick them in both balls. Do this in memory of me. Jesus.

A bit less than a year ago, Ronald Reagan died and I have never seen history rewritten so fast in my life. TV commentators and interviewees went boldly into science fiction with their fascinating new mantra: the poor loved the Gipper. The what? The poor loved fucking Ronald Reagan? On what planet? I tried so hard to keep a civil tongue in my head I almost bit it off. Every day, on an on, the most surreal assertions were made. At the time, I should have made a list of the most I-Want-What-That-Bastard's-Smoking arguments. Being nice made me a complete waste of the oxygen I inhaled that week.

To complete the super-nauseating 1-2 punch, WABC News played a phone interview with Nancy Reagan recorded over the weekend. I actually climbed out of the shower to hear it better, felt faint and climbed back into the shower in hopes I'd pass out and a head injury would make be forget what I'd heard. I can't think of anything more undignified than letting this crap go on even one more day. Why isn't Ron, Jr. patting her hand gently and saying, "Mom, I love you but you were always, always wrong"?

The Pope's dead. We'll have another. They're a renewable resource!
Reagan's still dead. It's not very Buddhist but: good riddance.
Nancy Reagan pretends she's relevant. Great.

When are we going to wake up from this nightmare?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Buttermilk, Bread Crumbs, A Week In Review, Part 2

Start with part one

"Please don't refill my coffee," Mamie says. "It's not empty yet. The proportions of coffee to milk to artificial sweetener will be off."

The waitress gasps. "I'm like that, too! Nobody understands! When someone refills my coffee before it's empty my whole day is ruined." I decide this young woman, who has never waited on us before, is our girl. I've decided we love her, and she will tell us more of her endearing quirks. I declare it so. Mamie's not entirely convinced.

A good waiter or waitress is nearly invisible, which I know because I was a *terrible* waitress in Dad's high-end restaurant, and a few other joints down the line. At the end of the meal, you remember you ate the delicious food you asked for when you expected it and there were no jolts or unpleasant surprises. You, as a diner, probably won't remember much about the person who served you. You should tip 20% and thank your lucky stars. A good server is hard to find but a neurotic server is very entertaining. She'll be back later for Act III, I'm sure, and I see the proverbial gun on the wall.

"I kept trying to leave the bridal shower," I say, when chewing resumes. I'm not eating. I ate at home. They're at my mercy and if they spit food, I win. "But Mamie reminded me if I'd kept my knees together nobody would be there. The first thing that happened was my cousin chased me around the room, trying to take my picture for a guest book. It took her half an hour to catch me."

"Waaaaam sssh a bee?" Trout munches.

"No. She's wily," Mamie explains. "The room *wasn't* that big. It was also a little warm."

"Right! When a nice person from the place lit a fire in the fireplace I tried to climb out a second story window."

"You did not! You wanted ventilation."

"A lot you know! I was going OUT that window."

Lala's smiling. She's attended her daughter's bridal shower, too. "What happened?"

"Apparently, the place is used to people trying to bust out of the event room. The window cranks were gone." I look forlorn. My escape plans were foiled. Mamie's nonplussed. Trout perks up and swallows.

"Remember that time in Newark?" Trout's very excited. "We were leaving The Fringe and that guy was just hanging onto the side of the building! He said, 'I got locked out. Would you hold the door open?' I laughed so hard I had to duck between the cars and puke."

"Hanging...on the side...of the building?" Mamie is staring again.

"Yeah, yeah, you know they can't always hear the doorbell and sometimes the door gets locked," I toss out. "And you were there when Jhon Thum climbed the side of the house in a kilt, so it's not like we never see people hanging around a story up."

"Jhon Thum," Mamie sighs. "I'm always glad when I see him in pants."

"When we started eating, I was sitting between Mamie and Niece #1, who is inseparable from Sister #4. They're less than a year apart in age and they get along great. We kept trying to feed them tiramisu because we couldn't eat it. The calories! Miss Sasha walked by with a full plate. I asked her had she seen the vegetables on a stick. She said, 'Damn!' and went back to the buffet."

"Everything's better on a stick," Mamie agrees.

"And if you have to stab somebody you're prepared," I continue. "When the girls got up to go do that junior bridesmaid notetaking thing, Dad sat down next to me, which should have had seismic consequences because then he was sitting next to my mother. She looked like she might dispense with the wine glass and drink straight from the chardonnay bottle. And - oh my God! You should've seen the presents."

"She got five shower curtains!" Mamie shouts. "Miss Sasha registered for stuff and forgot all about it! I gave her this beautiful Japanese sushi plate set in green! She said, 'That's really beautiful! I love your taste.' I said, 'It's YOUR taste. You registered for it.' Your cousin said it was like she ran through Target with the UPC gun singing, 'La la la la la la.'"

"At 7 o'clock, the place was a well-heeled mess, my sisters were exhausted, Dad was the only one who knew how to use the 50-year-old industrial dish machine.The bridemaids started packing things up, All the concerned menfolk arrived to help eat the mountain of leftovers. Dad, Sister #1 and I packed up food, washed and put away the dishes at lightning speed for about an hour until #1 had to sit down. She's 8 months pregnant so I don't know how she stayed on her feet that long. In her place, I would've told those twenty-somethings to go fuck themselves and get next to a dishtowel. And Dad's got a heart condition, so I told the bridemaids to stop whatever they were doing and help me."

"What were they doing?' Lala's done eating now. Trout's plate's disappeared. Mamie's lighting a cigarette. And my seltzer's empty! Alas, no one will be spitting food! Well, there's always next week.

"Darling," I say to the waitress, "May I have another seltzer with lemon?" She points to a spot on the other side of my Dragonball Z lunchbox.

"Like that one?" she asks. I didn't see her put it down. I'm thrilled! Mamie purses her lips.

"Ever have one of those days where everyone annoys you?" Mamie asks the girl. "You know, where everyone's poking at you and you just think you're going to kill somebody?"

"She's a WAITRESS!" I shout.

"That's EVERY day!" she says. Mamie brightens. Our girl's no Twinkie.

And now we have a new playmate.