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No Knock, Knock: “Who’s there?”

12 Oct

F9FE48AD-838D-4120-AEE3-DCAF0DAA71A9This is pretty much one of the worst texts any mother can receive from her daughter, but it’s especially panic inducing when said daughter is living in a dorm… in another state… as a college freshman…with no pre-college friends… and is fighting a throat infection. “What could possibly go wrong? She’ll be fine,” I said to a worried Big Daddy months ago to quell  his Daddy-fears swirling around Snakebite leaving for college. When your precious daughter’s chronic shyness and inability to read subtle social cues has limited her exposure to most of the typical lifestyle experiences of average 13-18 year olds, you just worry that her naiveté on a college campus makes her the perfect mark for a certain kind of budding psychopath-narcissist. Apparently it does. Let me tell you about it…

Between 2am-3am last Monday morning, October 2, 2017, Snakebite was roused by someone rubbing her leg while growl-whispering her name with urgency. She propped up and made out a dude standing near the top of her loft ladder and hunching above her bed. He said he was there to check on her, to see if she was feeling better. She was stunned, but told him he should leave. He said that he was hoping to spend the night cuddling with her because it was cold outside. He had walked 45 minutes to get there and thought she was being rude and ungrateful by not inviting him to get cozy. She calmly said he had to go, citing that she and her roommate have an understanding about not having over-night guests without an advance agreement. It’s the time-honored “blame it on the dog” of trying to politely decline a hook-up when you’re a girl who feels uncomfortable, but who is nice enough to want to spare someone’s feelings. Snakebite’s roommate, who was also sick and a known light sleeper, immediately sensed when someone was entering their room. C’N (not roomie’s real name, but I haven’t nicknamed her yet) began to make some sheet rustling noises so that both the intruder and Snakebite would know there was a witness. That’s pretty crafty, really. When he realized they weren’t alone and got nothing but unwavering pushback, he angrily left, slamming the door.

Who was this ‘Whee-hours Creeping Cuddler? Just some guy that she’d only just met the prior Friday while hanging out on campus. (College is in the mountains, so people are constantly standing or lying around outside, just waiting to be interacted with.) That was just 2 1/2 sleeps from this early morning wake-up call. They had hung out, chatted and Snakebite also gave him a ride to the Walmarts to buy some cold medicine; he was coming down with the crud. Snakebite had Snap-Chatted (I hate that app so much), or whatever the kids call it, with him some over the weekend, but Saturday and Sunday was mostly spent inside trying to stave off a developing sore throat.

What do we know about him…now? Well, this boy isn’t a student, he’s on Tender looking for something, he’s on the verge of being homeless because his roommate is sick of his shit and kicking him out of the trailer. He’s unemployed since being fired from his job at the Mexican restaurant next to Walmart. At 20, The Cuddler doesn’t have a car. Word on the street is that he loves and owns pistols. In the three years as an adult in the eyes of the law, he has been charged with assaulting a woman, resisting arrest, manufacturing marijuana, selling or delivering weed to someone under the age of 13 and sundry misdemeanors. There’s no telling how stuffed his juvie record might be. On Twitter he once posted shirtless selfie-mirror pictures to broadcast a chiseled physique accompanied with an a.p.b. diatribe covering how he’d been bullied in high school for being a fat kid, but now he is jacked. It finished with a simple statement that he wants to be “known”. Are you getting the shudders yet? He proudly boasts that he would never date a girl weighing more than 135 lbs. (Good thing he’s on the short size.) One of his Facebook profiles says that he went to “modeling college” in California and was a Hollister “site model” (millennial-speak for Floor Sales Associate at the mall), but when I googled him, I only found a few editions of Fuzzbusted that he had featured in as a “print model”. Is Snakebite crazy for passing on this prize? I mean, who in the hell gets fired from a Mexican restaurant in the mountains? These are the broadest strokes of the whack-a-doodle who fixated on my baby, figured out where to find her and waited until someone either entered her dorm with their magnetic card swipe or exited the dorm and then he just slipped through a closing door. Within minutes of his dismissal from the dorm, a barrage of angry, threatening, pleading, belittling and scattilogical texts began filling Snakebite’s phone.

D1BE8E69-96D5-41C4-89E3-9184B8045D7EWe are grateful that the ‘Whee-hours Creeping Cuddler is no master-mind. This could be a different post, otherwise. Despite having a poor, not so good plan, he still managed to find his way to Snakebite’s top-floor and end of the hall dorm room to shimmy up her loft ladder without her waking up. She had never even told him what dorm she lives in. I can’t imagine that getting caught trespassing, entering, assaulting two girls and communicating threats will garner this parolee any brownie points with his P.O. (parole officer).  The Cuddler should soon be bunking in his own sort of dorm… I hope he provides “companionship” to a very lonely, cuddling cellmate on chilly nights. What’s worrisome is that if this mountain-top moron was able to get himself inside of Snakebite’s dorm room, it must not be too difficult for any determined uninvited guest to get in dorms.

Friends, please, please, please remind your daughters and her friends to never assume that because they are in their own dorm room they are out of harm’s way. Talk with your kids, but daughters, especially, about how:

  1. Not everybody that they meet hanging out in the Quad is a student. As a college freshman it’s difficult to tease apart the nuances between a student who grew up close-by and an up-to-no-good townie who hangs out on a college campus because in a teensy town, that’s the only place that provides groups of similarly aged playmates. Some townies may even seek buttoning down a relationship with a college kid as a ticket out of their shitty town.
  2. Take new paths…literally. Tell your kids to not broadcast their schedule on social media and to switch up their routines when possible. Walk different routes to classes and back to the dorm. Be unpredictable. Notice what people she regularly sees when she’s out moving around. Be with, and visible to, other people when walking any long distances.
  3. Call the University’s golf-cart-student-safety driver to get her to the dorm at night or to her car parked in a far way lot.  It’s also a great way to meet a bunch of nice guys.
  4. Any guy your daughter meets that comes on too strong and too fast with his deeply personal emotional background information, sprinkled with affirmations that she is the sort of girl that brings out his romantic glow, is bad news. Your daughter needs to trot in the other direction. A fella that stakes a claim on a girl at their first meeting usually has some messed-up impulse control disorder, which is commonly found among a sea of other issues.
  5. If a boy that she has recently met quickly develops jealous opinions and beef over her former boyfriends, wants to know her passwords so he can explore her phone for any evidence of potential rivals, evidence of another romantic relationship or disloyalty, tells her about the past girls and women who have taken advantage of and wronged him only to callously leave and/or he complains that the time she spends with friends or family makes him feel lonely and like he’s not a priority…he is a raging unfillable pit of narcissist neediness and your daughter needs to call an Uber.
  6. Screen capture technology is a threatened girl, or freaked out guy’s, best friend. Tell your kids to screen-shot any sketchy digital-age stuff being sent to them. Save it. It may later be just the evidence a judge needs to issue a warrant or a restraining order.
  7. The door should always be locked. Always, whether one is inside or leaving. Don’t ever hold the main door open for anyone who isn’t known to be another dorm resident.
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Hot Body

26 Oct

imgresWhen I contemplate my mortality, I wring my hands over what I’ve done and what I’ve left undone. Who’s with me here? What are my regrets? Will I be leaving my family in a lurch? Have I said everything I needed to? Am I straight with Jesus and God? Will my children be provided for? Will my Girlfriends remember what they are supposed to get out of the house asap? These are pretty deep rabbit holes to fall down and have prompted much discussion among friends and family about “End of Life” decisions.

In an eerily timely fashion, this musing dovetails with the 15th anniversary of my own Mother’s death. Normally, talk of death and funerals would be dour at best, but like Hot Damn, my Mother wasn’t like other girls. After Mother’s first Cancer fact finding MRI in 1990, Carolyn had a realization. Amid all of the jittery nerves, white noise knocking, bad lighting and tight quartered reflections, something became clear to Mother. As is? She was not going to look that great in a casket. For one thing, her hair was a mess and she could see how the wrong shade next to the skin could really wash out a girl’s complexion…probably even more than not being alive. What to do? Carolyn began processing her “visitation look” pronto.

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This is NOT my mother, but wasn’t this lady fab?

Initially, I thought this was a folly. Perhaps the influence of too many male decorator friends? But Carolyn won me over when I was forced to recline flat on the sofa, mirror in hand, so that she could prove her point. There was simply no denying how great my neck and décolleté looked with next to zero gravity. But it was also inarguable that something was lacking. Oh, oh, oh!  How much better would it be with falsies??? Mother had totally nailed it. You gotta come correct with your eye-lash game.

Years later, it was clear the direction Cancer was going, and Carolyn became super proactive in making sure that she was going to be the most fabulous looking “resident” at Patterson’s Spring Hill. Mother picked out the right Home-Going wig, found just the perfect warm shade of coral nail polish, bought long, bushy false eyelashes that would have made RuPaul proud, and even splurged on a new Oscar de la Renta gown, spending an obscene amount of money having it altered accordingly as she shrank. In fact, she gave kudos to Cancer for giving her the waif figure she had spent years eating cottage cheese and chain-smoking trying to achieve. Let’s take a moment to reflect: How great is it that Carolyn found that sort of optimism in her decline? I was even dispatched to get shoes dyed to match the dress, because she was old-school like that. This sort of attention detail is why I, myself, die a little bit every time my kid stands at the door wearing athletic shorts and a stained t-shirt ready to go out to dinner. Sigh.

Every media outlet is chock full of full of stories about violent riots, impending doom, stock market defeat, shootings and apartment fires from overnight. Most of us live in a constant state of bracing for the worst. According to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et. al., a slew of us Americans are now particularly fretful over the certain swift ass-kicking we’re all in for by Ebola. At the root is not just fear that we’re all going to die, but it is compounded with worry that it’s going to happen in the blink of an eye.

It’s all well and good for us to tie up loose ends while having our look pulled together and ready to go as the pearly gates are opening, but what if Ebola strikes and there just isn’t the time, because of the quarantine, to run around and make everything just so. How prepared are any of us for an untimely death, really? I’m not just talking about estate planning, insurance payouts, handing over the safe deposit box keys, or updating living wills. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched the evening news covering a tragic death and my come-away was, “Is THAT the best picture they could find”?  “It’s grainy.” “He looks like a gangster.” “The decedent is clearly 30 years younger in that snapshot.” “Where are her teef?” This is just unacceptable. How does this happen that there are no recent or decent pictures available? It’s a final insult to a “loved” one.

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Girlfriend Carol finds herself especially vexed, not by the emotional strain that her hypothetical sudden death will leave for her people, but by how ill prepared her family might be should she be in need of an impromptu funeral. In particular, will her husband be able to get his grief-striken shit together enough to provide the papers with a totally flattering picture for her, ahem, full page obituary spread? Most likely, that would be a NO. Without direction and pre-planning, none of us will ever get to be obituary chic. However, Girlfriend Carol has a solution: a mandate that once a year we all hire a professional photographer, or an artsy friend with a nice set of lenses, to snap us at our best. Be captured in an elegant setting with soft lighting on a day with low humidity. Be “caught” looking pensive in a field of blooming lavender. Act natural while holding an adorable puppy. If you aren’t pressed for time, get cozy with photoshop. Chisel that jawline, add symmetry to your eye brows, whittle away your batwings, or erase those crows’ feet in a way that Botox never can! The worst case scenario is that you don’t die soon enough and the picture goes on to make a memorable Christmas card, show up on a future senior yearbook page, or it simply makes a wonderful framed reminder on the piano of just how prepared you are. Either way.

Pumped Full of Pumpkin

25 Sep

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Last night I was ruminating about how I hadn’t busted my Fall 2014 hymen yet by savoring the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, despite the Starbuck’s gift card that Girlfriend Stacy sent me for my recent birfday. Yes, I just turned twenty nine (again…shhh). Big Daddy threw me some side eye and said, “I don’t understand how you can love everything pumpkin so much, while I know it’s gross”. I was all like, “Um, duh! It’s because I’m a White Girl, and You. Are. Not”. I don’t know exactly why the delicious Pumpkin has become the mascot of White Girls everywhere. Maybe it has to do with our feelings evoked from gazing at Martha Stewart’s face peeking through an elegantly disheveled arrangement of pumpkins and Indian corn or how from an early age we coveted the versatile buckle adorned ankle boots worn by Pilgrim women in all of the the first Thanksgiving depictions which also featured lots of pumpkins, but I think it is just been woven into our DNA somehow.

As such, we are such an easy target. Just adding the suggestion of pumpkin to an offering gets me and a herd of White Girls coming with pupils dilated, tongues swollen and wallets wide open. Me? Personally, I am like the Bubba Gump of pumpkin: baked pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin and cinnamon scented bees’ wax candles, cold pressed pumpkin seed oil, slow roasted pumpkin seeds with sea salt (pepitas if I’m feeling exotic), savory pumpkin soup with a dollop of crème fraîche, maple glazed pumpkin loaf, pumpkin hued cashmere sweaters, jet puffed spiced mallows for when you have to do coffee at home, whipped pumpkin butter, pumpkin spiced harvest ale, even Eggo’s limited edition Pumpkin Spice Waffles…I’m so dedicated that I’ve even had a pumpkin body scrub at the Ritz Spa. It was everything I could do to not lick and inhale myself in front of the aesthetician. 

* And yes, I realize that Bubba Gump is neither White, nor a Girl, but it fit, so just deal. 

Two of only a few major pumpkin missteps that I can carve from recent memory have come from the brain-trust of Pontiac, who thought they could force fugly cars into being palatable dollops by giving them the pumpkin spice treatment:

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The (Loser) Cruiser

The Aztek

The Aztek

It did not work. The result looks like some sort of mechanical transformer car/cockroach.

But something has happened this year that has me recoiling from my beloved pumpkin anything, just ever so slightly.  Apparently the Market has caught on to this pumpkin-infused economy and has sought to exploit it with thoughtless commodities that just don’t fly for the average White Girl’s sensibilities, or anybody’s for that matter. It turns out that sometimes pumpkin isn’t the best ever. For instance:

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Pumpkin Oreos. Why? Oreos should be one thing and one thing only: chocolate wafers with the snow-white cream that you scrape off with your front teef. I should have seen it coming, though. Oreo has polluted their brand with all sorts of fucked up flavors: mint, birthday cake, berry, peanut butter, marshmallow crisp, cookie dough, lemon and don’t even get me started on what flavors they are pandering in Japan. 

These come in several  limited edition "wrong" flavors

These come in several limited edition “wrong” flavors

Pringles Pumpkin Pie Spice Chips are Fifty Shades of No Way. Correct me if I’m wrong (don’t really, though), but potato chips should be salty with varying amounts of delicious grease. Potatoes are potatoes. Why are we trying to make them be pie, candy canes or toast? Let’s just allow potatoes to be great the way they are.  This is food bullying. Someone needs to consult The View about this.

Honey Boo Boo’s sister, Pumpkin…Another thing that’s just crying out for help!

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There are so many wrong turns in the land of Pumpkin this year, such as pumpkin spiced almonds, which is like making sunflower crusted macadamia.  What about Hershey’s Pumpkin Spiced Kisses? I tried to eat on one, but it just made me so sad that I couldn’t swallow it.

As far as being pretty to look at…Chobani and Yoplait both have created a pumpkin spiced flavored yogurt.  I guess it could be an ingredient for an apple dip, but it just looks like the post-meconium poop of a three day old baby.  Pumpkin spiced yogurt might just be the ugliest step-sister of the bunch.

Punk'n Poo

Punk’n Poo

Exactly how much does the Market think us White Girls crave the pumpkin? Well, there was this…

Come into Autumn

Come into Autumn

Earlier this month, the internets was in a lather over images of a Durex Pumpkin Spice Condom.  It turned out to be a soul-crushing cruel hoax to the skinny hipster dudes looking for an angle on getting laid during football season.  Said a Durex spokesperson, “Durex has heard that people are saying we launched a ‘Pumpkin Spice’ condom. We can’t claim this one, but we do love it when people spice up the bedroom.”  However, all hope is not lost…or is it? You decide.

Glide it on your gourd

Glide it on your gourd

In 2013, just a day before my last twenty-ninth birthday, the Lord of Lube, Astroglide, announced that Spicy Pumpkin Warming Liquid, would debut in fall 2014.  The company promised that the Spicy Pumpkin Personal Lubricant will feature the same quality as other lubricants offered by Astroglide. Oh, yay. A spokesperson said the product is “water-based, water-soluble, and condom-compatible, but with the subtle taste and smell of America’s favorite gourd.” As far as I can tell, after a quick feel-up of their website, this new lube has not yet been released. However, if you are in a hot and bothered hurry, companies such as Sexcusemoi and Pumpkinhead have products available online to light up your jack-o-lantern. 

Happy Fall, Everyone!

Dead Market

5 Aug

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To launch a successful product or business idea a lot of things swirling in the cosmos need to align.  You need to have a widget or service that is unique, with an identifiable market that will either benefit from or want said widget/service.  Or if you are crafty, you will be able create a demand for it, like they did with the Pet Rock in the 1970s. Once all that big picture stuff is established there is all of the unsexy and technical stuff that has to be finessed, like building prototypes, culling investors (or getting your parents to stroke a check), manufacturing, distribution, packaging, sales, marketing, evolving the widget, hiring employees, plus yada-yada-yada, all in no particular order.  Heads up: I majored in English and Special Education, not Business.  Don’t blow up my comment box with what I left out or how I’ve over-simplified the process.  Mmm-k?

But that was then.  We live in modern times with evolving models where businesses can get a foot in the door selling only mere possibility, or be funded by Kick-Starter campaigns, they can outsource everything to China for, like, a nickel or claw their way into appearing on Shark Tank, like girlfriend Jenny did with her Hold Your Haunches pants, and blow it up.  (You go girl!)  But many emerging “cottage industries” have just buried the whole having a meaningful product thing in favor of brainstorming niche ideas while seemingly getting super-duper baked in their parent’s basement, building the requisite website and then enjoy the fat stacks coming in.  The internet, and YouTube in particular, has proven time and again that there are VERY specific audiences and consumers to be exploited.  For instance…

Are you getting ready to sell a house or buy a house?  According to website diedinhouse.com, having any type of death in a dwelling can cost you “thousands of dollars”.  How?  No idea, they just say so in their commercial.  DiedInHouse admits that, “You may not be a believer in ghosts, but you do not want to live in a house that someone died in, no matter the cause. You also may not want to invest your money in a home that had a death, because it could possibly decrease its value and make it harder to resell.”  No matter what the cause?  I’m actually okay with a house where sweet Grandma died in her sleep at the ripe age of 97 as long as it doesn’t smell ripe. Does that make me creepy or something?

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Oh, no!  What’s a girl to do?  DiedInHouse contends that the G’u’v’ment is not doing its job and failing us all by not enacting more laws to protect citizen buyers from getting stuck with “stigmatized” property.  Allow me the slow hand clap of congratulation for DiedInHouse; not only did they identify and groom a niche problem, but they have developed and offered the solution, too.  Praise be to God!  Well payed, DiedInHouse, well played. For the low, low price of $11.99 per search (compared with a possible range of up to $39.99…a range that I think was just pulled out of a dead guy’s ass), DiedInHouse will provide the curious, under-informed prospective buyer with a ghoul report.  This report will contain a “vitality status of previous residents and people that are associated with the residence”.   Of course, “the US Government did not start digitizing death records until the 1960s.  Even today, there are government records that have not been digitized.  Most of our data is from 1990 to present”. But, take heed because DiedInHouse cheerfully reminds clients that, “if we are not able to find a death record in our search, keep in mind that does not mean that a death has not occurred there….Our disclaimer states that DiedInHouse.com is merely a great tool to use to assist you with finding out if someone has died at a specific address.”  Or you could just ask the current owner.  Or Google.  Whatever, man.

To support their assertions of financial harm and drawn out listings, DiedInHouse cites two well known and recently sold Death Houses. 

What horrors await behind the front door?

What horrors await behind the front door?

After well documented hot mess Amy Winehouse trotted outta rehab in her Fuck Me Pumps and flew over the rainbow while clutching the wings of a pegasus named Heroin Cocktail Sparkle her father, Mitch, listed Amy’s Camden Square home in North London for sale at £2.7 million.  It eventually sold at auction for £1.98 million.  That does seem like a big downgrade for a 3 bedroom house, which included a widely-in-demand custom recording studio, in a neighborhood mostly populated by architects, barristers and writers…HOWEVER, at the time of listing the average home value for that street was £871,092 while the average asking price for homes on the market was £1,215,611 with the average closing price settling at £618,333.  Maybe the discrepancy between list and sales price was more about unrealistic expectations and less about the pallor of death or chalk outlines.  After all, the home did sell for a whopping £1,371,666 more than the average of other home sales in the area.  Just putting that out there, DiedInHouse.

You are not Alone...in not wanting to get murdered by the asking price

You are not Alone…in not wanting to get murdered by the asking price

Another famous residence DiedInHouse cites is the home where Michael Jackson, crooner of possible DiedInHouse theme song “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”, took his last and longest nap.  The house, an architectural Gobstopper, sold in 2012 for $18.1 million, down from its initial asking price of $28.995 million.  Whoa!  Talk about taking a beating…but wait.  The house had been sold in the real-estate heyday of 2004 for $18,500,180.  At the time of his death, the King of Pop was renting it for $100k a month.  About 5 months after Jacko donned his jammies and eye-shades for the last time, the house was listed and quickly scooped up by Hubert Goez, CEO of douche bag clothing house Ed Hardy, for a cool $18.050,000.  Note that the year was 2009.  How were your investments and bank accounts doing in November 2009?  Mine were either wheezing or filled with tumble-weeds.  Just months after closing, Goez and his wife, Roxanne, presented the house for sale for a staggering $28.995 million, inflating the value by a ghastly 62.25%.  Unbelievably, there was not an immediate bidding war.  I know.  One year later they wanted to be startin’ something by bringing legal action against Linda Welton, a woman who operates an outpost selling umbrellas, coolers and maps to the stars’ homes. In their complaint, The Goezes asserted that, “potential buyers are bothered upon approach by the quite visible and annoying constant illegal stopping and/or parking of cars in front of the home on what otherwise would be a quiet residential street.”  Let it be noted that they did not file a complaint against the devious former owners for not disclosing the dead Michael Jackson that used to be in the upstairs bedroom.  Also note that it then sold for $50k more than the Goezes originally paid for it.  I don’t know of too many other properties where the sales price only took a 2% dip during this time period.

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I dunno, all things considered, it seems like these real estate survivors have ended up with fairly lively returns.  Having not seen any sort of tax files, I can’t say whether or not DeadInHouse is making a killing, but just looking at the quantity and profile of advertisers they boast on their website, I’d certainly say their business  is alive and kicking.

UnPimp Pope

14 Mar

Cue Handel’s Messiah, ‘cause there’s a new boss-man in Vatican City!

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Now, I am not Catholic, so I haven’t had much riding on how things were going to turn out, but I have been watching to see what color smoke the Church was blowing these past few days. Once a new Pope is elected, he typically eschews his slave name in favor of a new one. Why? Apparently it has something to do with a 6th century Pope whose birth name was Mercurius. Records suggest that he felt it was a bit too pagan and therefore unfitting to a Catholic Pope. I prefer to believe that he was just embarrassed to be named after a planet and seized the opportunity to correct his parents’ wrong. Any child of Frank Zappa would do the same thing if given the chance! He picked John II. The practice has sort of stuck, but you don’t have to change your name. But all the cool Popes do.

A Pope’s choice of name is his very first way of branding his Papacy. The new guy chose his Pope name to honor one of my favorite saints, and apparently his, too, Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis is remembered for his humility, gentle nature and understated elegance.

Who knew there were Corgis in olden times?

Who knew there were Corgis in olden times?

New Francis likes to keep things streamline and straight-forward in a simple tone-on-tone white get-up paired with a simple wooden cross. But I’m not sure that I like it. It doesn’t say “Pope” to me. Historically, the Pope has dressed like a pimp… and why not? It’s no coincidence that there have been eight Popes named “Urban” and thirteen Popes named after a Pimp’s favorite plea, “Innocent”.

And who among you can dismiss the similarity in ward-robing?

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Ex-Benedict in a flirty red and white ensemble

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Festive pimp attire

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Theme dressing for St. Patrick’s Day

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Theme dressing to coordinate with the $$$ from the bitches

And how about how they roll with their homies? Popes and Pimps both like to trick out their rides.

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The Popemobile

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A fine-ass Pimpmobile

And whether it’s Taylor’s Tawny Port or gin and juice, it is enjoyed from the finest chalice.

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Raising his cup in style.  Holla!

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It don’t mean a thing if it don’t bling-bling. Know what I’m sayin’?

A polished Pope and a street-wise Pimp well know that the devil is in the details. You gotta accessorize if you want to successorize!

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The higher the mount, the closer to God

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This can also be used to smack a John that doesn’t want to pay

And neither ever, ever forgets his walking stick when going out on the ‘ho stroll.

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“When you step out of the front door,” my mother always said, “you are an ambassador.” Never step out unless you are fully fly.

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I am afraid that Pope Francis intendeds to deviate and create a new Papal identity, one that is decidedly less glam.  Someone needs to get in touch with Humanitarian Dennis Rodman to let him know that the Pope is switching gears and will no longer be pimping the office. After his whirlwind trip to visit to North Korea to spend time with his bff, Kim Jong Un, Rodman has already arrived in Rome, anticipating a Papal fist-bump. According to reports this morning, Dennis Rodman’s people are in touch with the Pope’s people for a rendez-vous. Says Rodman, “I want to spread a message of peace and love throughout the world.” And crunk.

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Screw dieting

13 Jul

What do you do when Weight Watchers, Atkin’s, Cambridge, Sugar Busters, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, Cabbage Soup, Opti-Fast, Grapefruit, South Beach, The Zone, The Lollipop Diet, eating for your blood type and ingesting tapeworms fail to get you slim? Maybe you might compliment your fad diet with some cardiovascular movement in the form of a step-class, walking in those fugly Sketchers shoes, do Pilates, swim laps or even sit on the sofa palming a shake-weight while watching Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. Californian Pauline Potter decided the best way to drop weight was to quit messing around and just plain get busy. But not at the gym, oh no. Pauline has been getting busy in the sack; a special girdered bed is the sexercise studio where she is dropping the fucking pounds.

Last year, Pauline contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to turn her 643-pound self in as the fattest living woman. Her thinking was that good old-fashioned shame would kick start her weight loss. A case of the broken/divorced heart sads led Pauline to a Big Mac enriched 10,000-calorie daily diet after her internet-found husband split in 2008 when she was unable to bond with his son. Luckily, said ex-husband, 140-pound strong man, Alex, caught scent of Pauline’s new found celebrity and came a knockin’ to see if they could get a rockin’. Alex reports that during that meeting a year ago, they “trained” six times in the first 24 hours of being together. Since then, Alex slips in 8 times a month and works out with Pauline up to 7 times in a day. Pauline and Alex report that Pauline has whittled off 98 pounds. By losing nearly a hundred big ones, she is even now able to stand on her own…which I find surprising after what bangs out to be bumping uglies every 3 hours and 42 minutes.

Alex seems to do the majority of the heavy lifting. “Even though one of Pauline’s legs weighs more than I do, we’re able to position her body to make sex enjoyable for both of us,” he says matter of factly. Reports the newly svelte 545-pound Pauline, “I can’t move much in bed, but I burn 500 calories a session –- it’s great exercise just jiggling around.” Each time they sexercise she burns 500 calories?!? How she has figured this calculation is a mystery to me. And 7 times a day? Does she just keep an antibiotic drip going to combat the constant UTIs?

Friends who have faced fertility issues have confided in me that sex kinda loses its excitement and freshness during the “ovulation cycle” each month when they have to get cookin’ as much as possible to optimize stirring their eggs in the baby gravy. They often resort to role-playing, toys and the Fredrick’s of Hollywood catalog to spice things up. I can only imagine how, after what adds up to 56 sex sessions a month, spread through only 8 days, keeping it “fresh” can be an issue in so, so very many ways. However, that Pauline is a clever minx when it comes to being appealing: “My bed is strengthened and, although I can’t buy sexy lingerie, I drape a nice sheet over me.” A nice sheet? Does that mean high thread-count, a pretty floral pattern?

If Big Daddy ever comes home with a new set of sheets for me to try on, he will most certainly not get to work out with me.

Fiddy Shades of You’ve Got to be Kidding

9 Jul

This week’s New York Times Best Sellers list is a head-scratcher for me.  Number 1?  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.  Number 2?  Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James.  Number 3?  Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James.  And slipping in at Number 8…yep, it’s the freakin’ Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James.  In the event that you have been tied up for the past few months, the Fifty Shades books are filed under Mommy Porn.  As I understand it, the “plot” explores the erotic relationship between an inexperienced college co-ed and a slightly older, complicated business man who likes to get his freak on with props.  Snore.  Consequently, the books now have people in the BDSM, that’s Bondage-Domination-SadoMasochism, community all twisted up that their fetish is being demonized as a psychopathology.  But, that’s not who’s snatching these books off the shelves.  So.  What.  Ever.

Here’s a quote from the first book that I found online:

“He grabs me suddenly and yanks me up against him, one hand at my back holding me to him and the other fisting in my hair.
“You’re one challenging woman,” He kisses me, forcing my lips apart with his tongue, taking no prisoners.
“It’s taking all my self-control not to fuck you on the hood of this car, just to show you that you’re mine, and if I want to buy you a fucking car, I’ll buy you a fucking car,” he growls.”

I think that Forever by Judy Blume may have been more titillating and for sure better written.  I don’t even know what “fisting my hair” would do besides warrant 15 minutes of “me time” in the bathroom with a bottle of Johnson & Johnson de-tangling spray and a wide-tooth comb.  Ouch, now that hurts!

Over the weekend, girlfriend Tracy said that one of her friends had just posted on Facebook that she had gone to her local library in hopes of checking out one of the Fifty Shades books.  She landed at number 300 on their list of frugal, horny housewives waiting for the book.  Given the subject matter, I am pretty sure that I would want a fresh, unused copy that has not been clutched in over 600 spontaneously self-molesting, public library hands.  I don’t want to be glued to those borrowed pages.  Ewww.

Have you read one, or gasp, all of these books yet?  I haven’t and it is making most of my girlfriends about to crawl out of their skin from frustrating disbelief.  “Oh.  My.  God…you HAVE to read them!”  “Read them with your husband…you’ll be so in the mood!”  “I couldn’t wait to get home and be alone; you know…”  Call me easy, call me predictable or call me consistent, but I still respond enthusiastically to a bottle of red wine and Big Daddy asking, “Did you start working out again?”  Really.  That’s pretty much the entire how-to manual of getting just about any woman to give it up.

A Rowse by any other name

5 Apr

For two years my mother and her sister were called This One and That One.  The family story was that my mother and her identical twin sister were not legally named until they were about two years old.  I don’t know if my grandparents didn’t already have names prepared because twins coming out threw them for a loop, or in olden times you just didn’t even think about names until there was an actual live birth or if maybe it was because it had been ten years since their first born and by the time this duo appeared my grandparents were just in a “been there, done that” haze, figuring that they’d get around to it eventually.  My mother said it was because one of her older sisters, Vesta, not Billie Sue, would instantly bastardize any prospective names into grating nicknames that drove their mother batty.  I have no idea if this is true, but Carolyn and Charlotte eventually made it into the county records.

Recently there have been several stories in the news about parents experiencing “Baby Name Regret Syndrome”.  Really?  Can this be a shock?  Is it because people are now naming their children impulsively, without thinking about the long-term effect of having a “cool” or an “ironic” name?  You need to save those sorts of monikers for your pets.  The research cited in articles has been mainly concerned with pointing to the myriad of kooky names that celebrities adore festooning their children with.  And there are many, like: Bronx Mowgli (Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz), Blue Ivy (Beyonce & Jay Z), Moxie Crimefighter (Penn Jillette), Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee) Bear Blu (Alicia Silverstone), Antonio Kamakanaaolhamaikalani Harvey Sabato III (Antonia Sabato, Jr.), Moroccan and Monroe (Nick Cannon & Mariah Carey), Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie (Bob Geldolf & Paula Yates) Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily (Paula Yates & Michael Hutchence), Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen (Frank Zappa), Zuma Nesta Rock (Gwen Stefani & Gavin Rossdale) … the list could do on for pages.

I agree that those are all truly awful, but I doubt that any of those parents have the slightest regret over their unique choices.  But those poor kids!  Mon Dieu.  And I thought that being named after my Aunt, Charlotte, was a cross to bear what with it being long and difficult to spell.  Can you imagine Jason Lee’s kid having to ever do anything at the Social Security office?  “Yes, Pilot Inspektor…no, Inspektor is with a ‘k’, my parents thought it would be more custom than Inspector with a ‘c’…Yes, that is why I am here; I was just granted the court’s permission to legally change my name to Pete Jones.”

My favorite celebrity name goes to the son of Jermaine Jackson.  I think he was trying to send a message to his little brother, Michael, whose children’s names are Prince, Paris and Prince II (the name so nice, he used it twice!).  The message is that Jermaine’s child is also Jackson family royalty…hence the boy’s name: Jermajesty.  Take that, Blanket.

Sometime’s parents take their naming inspiration from iconic brands or products that they feel convey certain panache: Mercedes, Tiffany, Remington, Porsche, Brandy, Diamond, Bentley and so on.  Couples who thought a destination wedding was a good idea might be partial to destination names such as Brooklyn, Dakota, London, Sierra or Phoenix. If you catch an episode of Toddlers and Tiara’s, on accident…of course, you can hear a lot of names that are certain to catapult a prostitot to future success.  Can’t you see your future self, handing over control of your portfolio to a broker named Paisley, Sparkyl, or Kragen?  Perusing the Social Security site, it is clear that many parents will go to great lengths to make sure the letters “j”, “k”, “y” or “z” find their way onto the family tree: Kaylynn, Jayden, Jazlyn, Xzander, Kloe.

Living in the South, I am used to people having some eccentric “family names” or having a last name for a first or middle name.  Heritage names are popular with everyone.  And there is no shortage of names that hearken to a family of French origin, like La Quon, or nod to a family’s obvious Greek heritage with something like Shantavious.  But the names that totally throw me into fits are the ones that are just made up words, blends of other names or common names that have a custom spelling, so that the child will grow up feeling special.  By and large, I’ll bet they grow up realizing that their momma is illiterate and didn’t know how to spell.

A couple of summers back, I was being checked out at a Wal-Mart in Florida by a woman whose nametag was a cluster of letters…”Sh’airaleete”.  Yes, there was the telltale apostrophe of high-class in there.  I couldn’t resist commenting on what an unusual name she had.  I then asked, “How do you pronounce it?” I was almost knocked over when she said, “It Charlotte.”  Um, no.

I’ve given up

23 Feb

Everyone is acting like they are all a bunch of crazy Cajuns with the Mardi Gras stuff.  The beads are flying, bars are having “parties” and my grocery store bakery is overflowing with those grody looking King cakes.  For my family, about as Mardi Gras as we get is eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.  The idea behind that isn’t just another one of my “breakfast for dinner” whims.  No.  Lent season has begun and in practice, a household uses up all of their decadent ingredients before beginning their penitential preparation during the forty days preceding Easter.  The pancake supper is sort of like a distant cousin to making what I call Snowstorm French Toast.  That is when all stores sell out of milk, eggs and bread at the announcement of “snow forecast” in Georgia. 

Lent is a time when people try to repent, give alms, pray and to do without by giving up something that is indulgent.  The eschewing of chocolate, gossip and alcohol seems to be popular with my people.  I myself have given up these things, and other vices or luxuries as well.  Sometimes I make it all forty days, and other years I have broken down and admitted that I am an imperfect child of God.   One year I gave up putting French Fries in my mouth.  It sounded daring at the outset, but was super easy.  It turns out that I really don’t eat them that often, so it kinda worked out for me.  The most difficult Lent season was the year I decided to deny myself from allowing something else that starts with an “F” from coming OUT of my mouth.  I vowed self-denial by eliminating using the word “fuck”.   It was the most difficult forty days.  Ever.

Hot Damn comes from a long and colorful line of serial potty-mouths on her mother’s side.  I have one cousin, we’ll call her Melissa, who is the most prolific and cunning cuss-wordsmith that I have ever met.  She works at her craft in the way a tennis champ might work at her serve.  It is dazzling how she can work a “bleep” word in to the most somber of occasions.  I sat next to her during my Grandfather’s funeral and about wet myself from her commentary.  Then there was the six-week  college Thanksgiving-thru-Christmas break when I worked part-time in her office.  One morning when I came in, I must not have been accompanied by my usual rays of sunshine, prancing fawns and chirping bluebirds, because  said cousin looked up from her desk at me and said, and I quote, “Well, God-damn-shit Charlotte Ann; who the fuck pissed all over your cornflakes this morning?”  That one question pretty much had everything!  So, you now know from whence I come and the struggle that I faced by denying myself the best profanity of all time.  Busting out the f-word is just part of my fabric.

Spending that forty days biting my tongue and rethinking my word choice not only prepared me for Easter that year (I know that Jesus was way appreciative of MY sacrifice), but it gave me the foundation to listen and sing-a-long with music in the car with my kids.  For instance, before Cee-Lo released his sanitized “Forget You”, I was blasting the original song, but loudly substituting the line as “Well, fudge for you-oooo-ooo0!”  I turned it into a song about baking for someone who’s done you wrong.  Isn’t there something in the Bible about loving your enemy?  Again, I was making Jesus proud by passing along His teaching.

Yesterday I conducted an informal Facebook poll to find out what my people were going to hit the pause button on for Lent this year or what they had disposed of in years past.  Some were true eliminations like Jackson quitting chocolate, John saying “no” to carbonated drinks, Tracy and Gabe not checking Facebook (won’t happen) or when Donald stopped making martinis (but not vodka tonics).  Others were more wishful, like Kim halting toilet scrubbing or Claire giving the finger to caring in any capacity.  Then my cousin Mary Sue replied that she would be giving up “cousins”.  Ouch.

Finally feeling the love

14 Feb

Stores have been festooned in pink and red since December 26th.  Hearts, balloons and kissy prints have been everywhere.  Yes, it’s Valentime again.  A younger Hot Damn had no love for Valentine’s Day.  Every year it seemed like a mocking reminder that I hadn’t peaked yet.

When I was in elementary school, administrators and teachers had yet to adopt the culture of participation trophies and the belief that all children are special snowflakes.  Thus, birthday party invitations were still subjective and no one was forced into making a Valentine for anyone they didn’t want to.  Well, you can see where I am going with this.  My tissue paper and sticker emblazoned shoebox was never the one that was overflowing with love notes and chalky heart candy by the last bell.  I’m sure it mostly had to do with the gawd-awful Sandy Duncan style pixie haircut that my mother insisted was “just daaahling”, and nothing to do with my winning charms.

By my middle school years, the ritual of exchanging cards and candies halted.  Then, as a high school freshman I discovered a whole new level Valenshame.  

Over-confident and sexually ambitious teens annually organized some sort of school-sanctioned fund-raiser that involved j.v. cheerleaders sitting at a table and  selling carnations for $1 to other students.  They came in three colors: red for smokin’-hot ninth grade romance, pink for crushes and white for “I don’t like you in that way”.  The flower would be delivered to the object of one’s affection during classes throughout the day on February 14.  You could attach a personal note.  Sounds harmless, right?  Ugh.  This was just a new, more obvious posture in the contest for popularity.  And the celebrated teens would schlep their growing bundle of dyed flowers around school with them, to every class, even to lunch, all day long.  For those of us who received a white carnation or two, sent by a friend as a gesture of solidarity, it was a dilemma.  Did you proudly tote what amounted to your boutonnière with you, so that you didn’t look totally unloved, or did you gingerly put your carnations in your locker because they looked like a pittance?  Oh, and there was always that one poor sad sack who would be exposed for boosting her numbers by sending several to herself anonymously.  Bad move. 

By college, I made a habit of dating the sort of really cool guys who conveniently liked to break up right around the second week of December, who then later wanted to come sniffing around again after February 15th.

And in the work world?   The competition for the ultimate love trophy went off the chain.  There was no prouder receptionist than the one with the biggest delivered floral arrangement by clock punch time.  The secretary pool looked like a funeral parlor, but all the women were beaming from the outward display of love.  It was high school on steroids.  

Big Daddy and I had been dating about 2 months when faced with our first Valentine’s Day together.  A couple of days before the V-day, he told me to “wear something really nice” on the 14th  because we were going out for a fancy date.  He was very mysterious about the whole thing.  I was giddy about finally participating in the Valentine’s Day of my dreams.  I knocked off work a little early, got my nails did and put on my best LBD, stockings, heels…the whole thing.   Big Daddy picked me up and took me to dinner at…drum-roll…my favorite Indian restaurant.  I had averaged eating there about once a week from the time I was thirteen.  I loved that place, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  It wasn’t out of the box.  And it certainly wasn’t fancy.  It turns out that Big Daddy didn’t think he would need to call and get a dinner reservation more that two hours before our ETA at any upscale eatery on the most dined out night of the year.   Even the Waffle House near us takes reservations on Valentine’s Day.  Hand to God.  As it turns out, before he landed Hot Damn, Big Daddy was the kind of guy who didn’t do Valentine’s Day.  Oh, well.  The vindaloo was good.

So what sort of gifts were exchanged?  I had searched high and low and bought an antique set of poker chips.  Because I knew Big Daddy liked to play cards, I thought that it showed that 1.) I knew his interests 2.) I put thought into an atypical gift; I wasn’t just dialing it in and 3.) That there was a bit of work involved in expressing my luv.  Big Daddy, it seemed, was hoping to convey the same.  Instead of just picking up a heart-shaped Whitman sampler or a roadside dozen of long-stems, he picked up the phone and asked his sister for advice.  It was a smart move, except that she didn’t really know me.  Through her connections, she was able to hook Big Daddy up with really great seats to Grease: the musical.  Does anyone remember this post?  I put on my best excited face.  A musical?  Does he even know me?  But the truth is that it was the best Valentine’s Day despite the dinner not being over-the-top or that I got a gift that I was dreading having to cash in.  I was with someone who I knew loved me.  But then there was our second Valentine’s Day… 

Big Daddy and I were married on 17 February 1996.  I wanted to be married during the winter, but I am Episcopalian and no weddings are performed during Lent.  Big Daddy is a manly man and believed that no weddings should be performed during play-off season or March Madness.  Given the e.t.a of my dress, it was going to have to be shoehorned in with Valentine’s Day.  On the 14th, I arose with brightness and cheer.  Because so much was happening in the next few days, I kept it simple with a CD, card and yummy meal.  Big Daddy kept it simple too.  He coughed up simply nothing.  W? T? F?  I kinda went bat-shit.  Nothing.  Seriously?  He reasoned that he was giving me himself in three days.  Yes, in three days I was going to be turning myself over to a man who thought that he was gift enough.  Does he even know me? I went Diary of a Mad Black Woman on him.  But don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to go in another direction and go Silence of the Lambs instead.  Ultimately, I would have looked stupid in a man suit.  I considered postponing the wedding to a less clashy date.  I might have done it if people weren’t flying in from all corners of the world.  It never occurred to me that by getting married I would have to forfeit the showiest day of romantic goo known in a calendar year.  Forever.  Oh, the disappointment!  The tears!  And maybe a slammed door.  Or two.  

This week we will celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary, which means it will also be our eighteenth Valentine’s Day together.  I am pleased to report that not a bare Valentine’s Day has passed again.  Sometimes there’s a grand gesture, like a shiny bauble or a sterling trinket box.  Or maybe it’s more practical, like speakers for my iPod.   There have been no more tickets to musicals, but there have been tickets to see Ben Folds.  We don’t even pretend about fancy dinners on actual Valentine’s Day anymore.   Tonight we will celebrate our love by going to Hot Tub’s basketball game at 7:45 and listening to Snakebite protest about having to go.  Tomorrow night we will go out to a yummy dinner with friends.

I think he finally knows me.

I was lost in the woods, but now I am found or Go tell it on the mountain

11 Jan

I can easily go off on a tangent.  The legal term for it is a “frolicking detour”.  See, plans are not necessarily concrete for me.  They are more of a loose framework to fudge around with.  And that is how I managed to get myself into a pickle in the urban wilderness, yet again.

So here’s what happened this time.  I am a city mouse, who likes to pretend she’s all woodsy and good with outdoor stuff.  For Christmas, Big Daddy indulged me with new fanny pack that’s not a fanny pack to stuff all of my incidentals in for when I go walking off campus.  But yesterday I was in a big ol’ hurry to get out of the house to take the dog to have his ACL surgery (oy vey!) in Marietta, and I left my new non-fanny pack fanny pack in the mudroom.  So, after a morning of veterinary drama, and a trip through the Bo Jangles drive-thru, I finally parked at the base of Kennesaw Mountain for a little exercise al fresco.  I separated my key from the key ring and had no choice but to deposit it in what my mother taught me was nature’s pocket: my bra.

My storage compartment ain't what it used to be

My “plan” was to go for about 4 miles and be back to the car at 1 o’clock.  However, the weather was sooo nice and the trail was sooo easy that I thought I’d stretch it to 6 miles.  But I still felt good and thought that I was actually circling the base of the mountain and that I’d be back to my car at about the time I’d reach 8 miles.  Perfect.  At a bit over 8.75 miles I felt like I wasn’t really where I should be, because I wasn’t, and then I felt for my key and my bra was devoid of anything not God-made.  Uh-oh.  I was going to have to back track to find the key.  Panic.  I wasn’t nearly as worried about being stuck in the woods come nightfall as I was about having to make a certain phone call.  But time was on my side and I’d find the key and no one would be any the wiser.

So, if I worked backwards exactly (which I did not) I would be walking at least 18 miles.  That’s a lot of ground to cover both physically and mentally.  My mind kept drifting back to how over this past weekend we had “free” Showtime.  I caught about the last thirty minutes of 127 Hours.  That’s the movie with James Franco, where he plays a super laidback guy who goes rock climbing alone, without telling any one details of his specific plan.  Because he is so adaptive and has a good sense of direction and skills, he feels like he’s got the upper hand with being all loosey-goosey like that.  He eventually slips and gets stuck in a crevice because that upper hand of his gets wedged behind a rock.  That sucked for him.  After several days, his water bottle is running low, he starts becoming delusional and despite all of his efforts to wiggle free, use ropes and his body weight to shift the pinning stone and even attempting to use his pocketknife to cut his arm out, he remains stuck.  Finally he resorts to gnawing his own arm off to free himself.   Put that in your pipe and smoke it.  So, now here I am, sort of lost in the wilderness of Kennesaw Mountain, and thinking about this damn movie.  Even though I can occasionally hear the sound of cars, there’s swollen creeks-a-plenty and I am occasionally passing other hikers, I am getting a bit nerve wracked.  I don’t like to ask for help.  It’s a problem.  I am hoping that I don’t have to gnaw off anything in the process of getting back to my car with key in hand…I have TMJ; I doubt my jaw could handle any heavy chomping!

As carpool time was drawing closer, I ended up gnawing off my pride by calling Big Daddy to tell him I couldn’t pick up our treasures from school and then had to explain why.  It may have been as painful as chewing my own flesh.  While alarmed, he was perfectly calm and nice about the whole thing.  I, on the other hand, was full of self-inflicted loathing and humiliation because I ignored common sense and had to admit it out loud.  I was embarrassed that I was throwing a wrench into the family’s afternoon routine, angry that I needed saving, plus I was beginning to feel the effects of so much fast walking and running.

It might not be at all surprising to find out that I was one of those girls who was always reading into things and looking for “hidden meanings”.  As a grown up, I say that I am now watching out for “the signs”.  I love to dissect what I decide is double speak and pick out what I perceive as tension.  I cut my teeth on shows like Moon Lighting and Remington Steele in the 1980s to hone this particular skill set for looking between the lines.  For instance, on the last day of school in sixth grade, Robbie Brown said, “I really like your Trapper Keeper”, but then he looked away suddenly.  What did he mean by that???  What did he really want to tell me???  I knew what he truly was saying was, “I don’t have the nerve to ask you to ‘go with me’, but I think you are fascinating and I think about you all of the time.”  Naturally, at around mile 12, I began turning my inquisitive mind to wondering about why I was in the conundrum and what my lessons and take-aways were going to be.  After all, if I had to be humbled in this process, I had better find out why.  Maybe it was as simple as that God was telling me that if I was going to scarf down a Bo-Jangles chicken biscuit for breakfast, it was going to take a lot more than a lovely 4-mile jaunt to knock it off.

Once the kids were gotten, Big Daddy called my cell and said they would be waiting for me by my car.  Whew.  Just before I was spit out of the woods, I looked down and found a dollar bill.  I never found my key, but I found a dollar.  Then it started to rain.  Considering I was already soaked and nasty, it was not a chink in the program.  Rain was just another damn thing in this long day.  I had to cross the Kennesaw Battlefield to get to where the family was waiting in the parking lot.  I thought that it was a bit ironic that I had been wandering around an historic Civil War battle site for nearly 20 miles with spoiled good intentions.  All I wanted to was to be clean, with my people and going home.  I had gone to war with my stubborn independence; returning a sore soldier who was resolved to not be such a stickler for sole reliance and to accept accountability for that bad flaw of mine disrupting the day.

Where the battle was fought the first time

Epilogue

Everyone was sitting in the car, having snacks, reading and smiling.  I did not get the third degree tongue-lashing I so feared and deserved for not following Common Sense 101.  I had planned to return to the mountain the next day, if I could still stand, and find that key.  I didn’t have to.  It was sitting on the console of my car…right where I had put it, apparently.  Doh!

I wants it, I needs it, I must have my precious key

Snakebite rode home with me and pointed out that at least I had gotten some good exercise outside, found some money and had a new funny story that starred me as Gollum on the quest for my precious car key.  And as a bonus, I didn’t end up on the news as the subject of a helicopter search.  God, I love that kid.

I crossed my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye and all of that, that going forward I will always text Big Daddy if I am going off road.

Once home, I sat in my deep tub for about 1 ½ hour soaking in Lush bath bombs and Epsom Salts.  I took two Tylenol and went to bed around 8 o’clock.  Today, I literally have a pain in my butt, but it’s okay.

Here is what I learned for sure:  Make a plan, share the plan and adhere to the plan.  Be prepared by having everything you need when you start a project or an adventure.  That could include something a simple as a closing pocket or be as seemingly outlandish and unnecessary as taking a buddy when you go some place that is unfamiliar, or a partner to hold the ladder when you clean the gutters.  I also found out that single people get real freaked out when you try to ask them questions like, “Have you seen a key on the trail?” when no one else is around.  Did they think I was going to invite them to my Arbonne home show?  Also, condom wrappers don’t decompose rapidly in the woods.   Eew.  Oh, and nice people hang hoses over their really tall fences for thirsty hikers and dogs.  And nothing looks better after a rough day, than a loved one who’s just happy they could rescue you from yourself…again.

Today I divulged my dumb-assedness on the phone to a friend.  After admonishing me for going into the woods alone, she asked if she could come the next time I go.  So, next week there will be a hiking day with girlfriend Caroline.  I didn’t know I had city friends that would even be interested in weekday trail-blazing.  This is great news; I won’t have to become one of those 9am mall walkers!  If anyone would like to join us in a Mommy Urban Hiking club, just let me know!  Turns out that when you divulge your plans, it all comes together.

Happy endings ahead

My inner music snob was murdered today

11 Nov

Have you heard of Zumba? If you haven’t been sleepless at 2am and seen the infomercials about the latest “fitness craze” that is sweeping the nation, well, it’s a fitness craze that’s sweeping the nation. In fact, you don’t even have to buy a Zumba instruction system to do at home, you can assuredly find a class somewhere in your neighborhood. I did. The Zumba people tout it as “an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™” A party? At 8:30 in the morning? I am so totally in.

There was no sangria nor ceviche and chips at this party. What there was in high supply was old white women in Lycra pants and reinforced sports bras that were all ready to shake it. And shake it they did. The class was taught by a young black fella, whom I am guessing is sassy as hell. That, btw, is code for gay. He’s a hoot, and he’s kind and patient, but he is still a fitness instructor and that means he is secretly trying to break me so he can talk about it later. I would absolutely love to hear his recap to his friends at Blake’s this weekend about all of the crazy white housewives with no choreography.

A little background is that I have no rhythm and no coordination. None. I tried to get in on the aerobics craze in the 1980s. It seemed so fun in movies like Perfect, starring a pre-Scientology John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. Or what about Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” video? How great did she look with that headband and spandex get-up? I started by getting Jane Fonda’s Workout, which I did in the basement during a summer. My dad came home for lunch one day and came downstairs to let me know he was there. He took a quizzical look at me all sweaty and red, then glanced at what I was looking at on the TV. Then he completely popped a gasket, lost any couth he had and started yelling about “that GD-Hanoi Jane-Communist-bleep-bleep-NOT IN MY HOUSE-bleep-bleep-Damnit to Hell!” Tom had been in Vietnam. He wasn’t fonda Jane. And that was that. The next time I tried aerobics was five years later in a class at a health club. During the warm up, I fell and sprained my ankle. I quit. Why bother?

But this Zumba thing is a fitness p-a-r-t-y and I do like parties. In my head, I was picturing Jazzercise for the 21st Century, but while listening to Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto and Sergio Mendes. There would be confetti cannons and a lot of spontaneous trilling of tongues. Those Latin countries are known for bringing the fun! Um, no. This was NOT my mother’s Brazil. What happened in place of a little slice of Carnivale? My inner music snob was murdered today and replaced with an out of shape middle-aged mom who doesn’t have it goin’ on half as much as I thought I did. I was put to shame by “mature women”, some twice my age, who could hip flick, shimmy, bootie-shake, plus do arm movements all while jumping up and down to Gloria Estefan, Rihanna, and Maroon 5. The final blow to my self-esteem came when I was limply shaking my flacid groove thang to the Backstreet Boys. This was happening in public. Heck, I couldn’t have tongue trilled if I wanted to…I could hardly breathe! I drank all of my water bottle and smelled like the boy’s middle school locker room when it was all over.

But, I think that I’ll go back…at least I didn’t break anything! That, and I just can’t bear the thought of going to Curves yet.

Vampires in Florida…What’s up, Doc?

4 Oct

Boo!

Anyone else remember when parents groups got all bunched up about the harmful societal effects that the Bugs Bunny cartoons were having on children?  This was probably around the late 1970s or early 1980s, when media rags like Psychology Today ramped up distribution and talk show host Phil Donahue was jaw-jacking through the miracle of television to Moms while they folded and ironed the laundry.  The gist was that violence in cartoons was causing aggressive behavior in pre-school tots that would later blossom into full-fledged criminal activity.  From then until now I don’t recall any news story of a teen attacking anyone with a cast-iron skillet, a moody adolescent trying to capture the object of his desire by placing an open lasso on the ground with some snacks within the circle or anything about luring children into cauldrons of boiling water to make Hasenpfeffer stew.  I have yet to receive delivery of a bomb making kit from Acme.  Of course, cats do continue trying to catch birds and chicken hawks are still breaking into hen houses.  What do I know?

Insert laugh track

However, I’ve had an unsettled feeling since that first Twilight movie, that trouble was afoot.  I was a bit off-put by how many grown women were going into full swoon over a young Robert Pattinson as misunderstood vampire, Edward Cullen.  Then another faction of women went weak in the knees for the taut Taylor Lautner as loveable werewolf, Jacob Black.  A t-shirt empire was built on whether you were on “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”.  Ugh.  Ladies, puhlease.

Even Jacob, err Taylor, agrees with me

But it didn’t stop with housewives and their t-shirt messages.  Why not celebrate your love of all things vampire or werewolf with something less likely to shrink in the wash…though more likely to discolor and sag with time.  Enter the Twilight tattoo trend:

Someone is bringing the sexy back

 

Future turtleneck affecianado

If the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote inspired groups to boycott Warner Brothers cartoons, then surely the hint of pedophilia and body mutilation would have parent groups gabbing about the dangers of books and live action movies that romanticize bloodsuckers and body changers by coating them is glitter sparkles and soft fur over six pack abs.  Nope.

Unsexy undead Nosferatu...the way it should be

Maybe if the parent watchdog groups hadn’t been slacking we would have our vampire problem under control in this country.  Anyone else see this story in the news last week?  I must warn you, it’s out of Florida, so it is going to be full-frontal weird.  Panama City, Fl teen Stephanie Pistey, age 18, and four of her friends lured a 16 year-old boy to a house where he was beaten to death then dumped in a storm drain.  Oh, and the house?  It was where Stephanie was babysitting two children.  Stephanie’s explanation of why she was involved in this scene had her telling police, “Since I was like, 12 … I know this is going to be crazy, but I believe that I’m a vampire. Part of a vampire and part of a werewolf.”

Liger's cousin

Really?  A vampire in the sunshine state?  How can this be?  Then I looked at her Facebook page.  Stephanie likes blood, doesn’t read much, hates God and has atrocious spelling and grammar habits.  Her music pages included the likes of Soulja Boy, Hannah Montana, but the most revealing clue of all into her sinister psyche is an endearment to Miley Cyrus.  That. Explains. Everything.

Miley preparing to suck

Is middle age the new teenage rebellion?

29 Aug

So, I spent a week in Daytona Beach Shores with the tots recently.  When my mother died, my brothers and I inherited her place there.  If it were a car I might put a “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for” bumper sticker on it.  Would it be cooler if she had bought a house in Sea Side or the Outer Banks?  No doubt.  But she grew up going to Daytona as a girl and associated the longest, widest beach in the world with elegance, fun and great memories.  She never seemed to notice the ratty No-Tell Motels, comical NASCAR fans and even got a kick out of the dental-challenged old biker dudes that would flirt with her at the Oyster Pub.

Truthfully, Daytona is good for my soul.  We come down here and very few people know the phone number.  It’s much smaller than my Atlanta house so cleaning up is fast.  I never run in to anyone I know.  Most of the restaurants are pretty awful so fretting about where to have a broiled platter is not a taxing mental exercise.  Laundry is minimal.  The worst part is listening to Snakebite and Hot Tub piss and moan about going anywhere that doesn’t involve ice-cream or how they are hot and tired.  I try telling them about all of those Make-a-Wish kids who are literally dying to come to Florida and they look at me like I’m nuts and whisper back and forth behind my back.

The beach scene down here is not exactly a collection of pretty young people.  It’s the old timers who are the standouts.  In the morning, there are all manner of old, leathery people walking and jogging.  One morning I saw two old dudes paddle-boarding and a kicky older lady rocking her bikini and dancing her way down the beach in a combination of Electric Slide, tap dancing and the Charleston.  All dances that were popular in her day…and she looked amazing.  When these old-timers smile, their teeth are intact.  It’s like the realized promise of the 1970’s Geritol commercials.  This gives me hope for my golden years.  I may not be buff and have it goin’ on now, but maybe by the time I’m scratching seventy-something I’ll be sporting a thong and a belly chain.  You gotta dream big, people.

However, later in the day when the sun is pointed straight down, the AARP have abandoned the sand and surf for bridge matches, golf rounds, paddling the black-water creeks or painting lessons.  Okay, maybe they are sitting in a doctor’s office getting their Coumadin level checked or having a prostate exam.  I don’t really know where they go, but when they do, the B team comes in and, oh my.

I am all for letting your freak flag fly, but at some point you have to know when your flag just don’t look good.  What is wrong here?  The old people have their looks together, and the 20-50 demographic is a mess!  In the last ten years this group has played catch-up at the boardwalk tattoo parlors, gotten aggressive with a piercing gun and found somewhere that sells a new line of clothes inspired by Warrant videos.

What I am figuring out is that the new middle age is the old teenage rebellion.  These kinds of shenanigans used to be the exclusive property of misunderstood fourteen year-olds whose parents are divorcing.  By college they have it all out of their system and just move on.  Instead, I think there is some delayed happy childhood going on, what with all of the esteem-building crap that came out of Psychology Today and Phil Donahue, and people aren’t registering their disappointment with life until they are older and don’t need parental permission for that eyebrow piercing.  I think I’m on to something with this one.  All of these current middle age-ish people have been told that they are special snowflakes that can do and be anything.  It’s when they figure out that they aren’t going to be a princess or run Vivid Entertainment that the self-loathing sets in and they just proceed to pierce and ink the hell out of it to re-create that special, unique person again.  Then they showcase it in coconut oil and an ill-fitting swim suit or short-shorts.  Whoa.

Now, I admit that I take “fashion risks” when I am anonymous at the beach.  I may wear strapless, though my upper arms really need sleeves.  I forgo any make-up and never touch a blow dryer.  But it kinda works.  I swear.  And it certainly helps that tan+fat=muscle.  Always.  That said, if the majority of the people I see on the beach look half that way in “real life”, I might have discovered why unemployment is so high.  It has nothing to do with the economy, but with the pool that employers have to pick from.  I mean, is this who you hire to be the face of your business?

Swimming through some pool issues

19 Jul

 

I love to swim at the pool.  Any pool.  And by swimming, I mean that I like to lube up with pure Mexican coconut oil, or baby oil and iodine, and read trashy gossip rags in a chase lounge while a radio d.j. reminds me to flip every 30 minutes.  Aaah.  When the heat gets too much I will slip in and eek out a few laps to keep up appearances.  My love of hanging poolside comes from both my mother and proximity.  We had a pool in our backyard and that woman knew how to soak sun like a champ.  Compared to Carolyn, The Girl from Ipanema and the Ban de Soleil chick, with her San Tropez Tan, were hacks.  From some point in May through some point in September, we were poolside daily.  And nighttime sharks and minnows is the best!  Even as I got older, passed through college and single times, I still spent my weekend days at my parent’s house in a pool that was safe and free of E. coli, weirdoes and screaming children in saggy diapers.

There was a time; however, when I wasn’t so keen to jump in.  The year was probably 1982 and watching the movie Jaws on HBO did a complete number on me.  I no longer was emotionally safe to be alone in the pool and I sure as hell wasn’t going into the deep end.  Who knew if a shark could somehow find it’s way from the ocean, through a maze of pipes and come ripping through the base drain of our Georgia pool.  NO chances were to be taken.  It was a long while before I was able to shake the scene in the movie when that giant rubber robot shark flew outta the water at Robert Shaw. 

Years passed and I forgot all about a chlorine loving Jaws and then something else jarred me from the pool.  My parents died, the pool was closed and eventually their house was sold.  While my yard is plenty big to have a pool, we don’t.  That’s a whole ‘nother rant.  I was forced to go to, hand to throat with a gasp, our neighborhood public pool!  I had never been to a public pool before, but by July of 2000 I couldn’t take it anymore.  There were scant lounge chairs (all with busted straps), lifeguards that looked like they just got done serving 7-10, weeds growing from the pool’s coping edge and it was the coldest water I had ever felt.  I sat on the edge of the shallow end (interpret that any way you wish) with a foot in the water as big crocodile tears came and I sucked in my bottom lip.  I missed my parents and damnit, I missed our pool.  When I left, my flip-flop slipped in a turd on the sidewalk.

Another time I was doing a water aerobics class at the indoor pool in my health club and snake cut through the water past me.  A snake in an indoor pool?  I almost gave up.

Fast-forward and our grody public wet-hole has become a veritable neighborhood jewel.   The cracks in the plaster have been fixed so the water isn’t two degrees above freezing, there’s lots of tables and chaises, good music, real mirrors in the bath house, a snack bar and even grills for Friday night member cookouts.  I have been totally comfortable there until this story broke a few weeks ago and it is like the lurking horror of Jaws and everything I thought was sketchy about “public pools” or ever worried about have conspired to freak me out.

Did you hear about this story?  Here’s a re-cap: A woman was found dead in a public swimming pool in the Boston area.  Some teens who hopped the fence for a moon-light swim noticed the body floating in the pool at about 10pm.  It was a Tuesday evening and she had been in there since going down the water slide on Sunday.  Three days!!!  A dead body was in the pool for three days…through a weekend…and no one noticed.  How?  How?  How?  Health Inspectors had been by to test the water twice during this time period and only noted that it was “cloudy”.  Cloudy dead lady water.  Argh!  This makes me want to pass out.  This has sent me in a tailspin.  Now when I swim laps, I am scanning the other lanes for bloated bodies.  I walk to my chaise lounge and check that no fingers are sticking up from the overflow drains.  I notice when a toweled chair hasn’t been visited in a while.  In an ironic twist, the decedent, thirty-six year old­­­­­­­­­­ Marie Joseph, had a tattoo on her hand that said “friends and family” in that fancy greenish-black tattoo cursive.  Where were the friends and family when she didn’t come home from the pool?

So, here I am…fortyish and I’m back to being terrified of the pool.  I swear if something brushes up against me underwater I could easily create a code brown and force the whole pool down for a day.

Sky Mall fuels the U.S. economy; everything is fine

13 Jul

More and more I am starting to think that this whole busted economy scare might just be a big fat lie.  Sure I keep seeing houses for sale, darkened high-rise buildings at night, abandoned construction sites and increasing unemployment percentages that all seemingly point to a problem.  However, I have also noted that everyone has a smart phone filled with Akon ringtones, huge Louis Vuitton bags, and the masses spent over 20 million dollars on seeing Zookeeper last weekend.  But the most damning evidence that we are being hoodwinked is this:  Sky Mall Magazine.

In the event that you haven’t flipped through the barf bag/instruction pocket at your seat while on an airplane, Sky Mall is THE in-flight catalog for you to pour through while your body dehydrates, your oxygen mix is wonky and you are captive at 30,000 ft.  This rag has some of the most useless unique items for sale and I think that there is a reason why you only are seeing them while you are in a metal capsule being propelled through the air.  For instance, check this out…

What happened to our garden gnome?

The Easter Island Monolith Sculptures from $350-$995  If you are trying to thwart tweaking home invaders, by confusing them as to whether they are creeping around a subdivision in the sticks or in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, this is the lawn art for you.  The only question I can think of is whether I’ll be displaying this in the front yard, out back by the septic tank or next to the above-ground pool.  And thank you Sweet Jesus for this next item…

Three thousand dollar time saver

The Armada 20 Winder Pro $2,999.95  I just have no time on my hands anymore, because I am always burdened with having to make sure that my twenty automatic winding watches are constantly wound.  I like for my timepieces to be accurate.  Once I have this unnecessary piece at my disposal, I can’t imagine getting off of a long flight and wanting to spend my found time in this…

Jerk in a box

The Hide-Away Foot and Body Personal Infrared Sauna $499  This box for one is supposed to help boost your body’s immunity system by heating up to 107 degrees in just ten minutes.  This is not for anyone with fears about being closed in a tissue dispenser.  I am pretty sure that it is just a box with a deluxe hot lamp in it.  Think of it as a glorified Easy Bake Oven for people.  Maybe it’s just what I need after getting hassled by TSA.  After chillaxing in the hot box, I might want something cold to drink, but I may not be able to lift my arms after the infrared therapy session.  Good thing Sky Mall also offers this for sale…

If only I could find a place to set my drink

Armadillo Beverage Holder $29.95  It’s not even a koozie.  It’s made of hard, painted plastic and doesn’t do anything to maintain temperature for a cold beverage.  Why?  Why would I need this?  Maybe, the armadillo is meant to make me mindful of what my face could look like if I don’t take care of myself.  That’s when I’ll remember to order this…

A face gym

FaceTrainer by no!no! $149  Truthfully, I just want this because it makes me think of something a lucha libre wrestler would wear if she were worried about sagging skin and being fabulous.  That’s a big if.  I would have bought it yesterday if it came in pink with butterflies and starburst adornments.

This stuff is for sale because there is a demand for it.  None of these items could possibly be filed under “needs”.  That only leads me to conclude that people have scads of money that they don’t know what to with.  And you know what that means?  It means that there is clearly a surplus of disposable income.  Sky Mall is doing its part to provide tantalizing items to keep the market stimulated.  If you still aren’t convinced, I will share this with you…

Dumb, smug butler

Butler Tissue Holder $99.99  If the country was in a state of economic depression, would anyone buy this?  This nearly two feet tall resin statue is touted as function art because it holds a roll of potty paper in front, while cleverly concealing a spare roll under its hat.  Oh, and did you catch that it’s a butler?  I’d think that was klassy, if its shirt actually fit.  Also note that “he” his holding his nose, a suggestion that your poop does, in fact, stink.  Or is that the economy he smells?

T-shirts…they’re back and they’re cool

7 Jul

But this shirt looks so new.

Remember when t-shirts were a novelty?  Your worn out t-shirt proved that you went to a concert, played on a team, attended that college (even if you didn’t graduate) or were loyal to a brand or institution.  At the very least you well knew someone who did or was…and all you got was a dumb t-shirt.  The point is that somehow you were connected to whatever it was to get the tee.  As a teen, my t-shirt wardrobe wasn’t huge because t-shirts didn’t fall into the category of “things my parents want to pay for”.  My favorite t-shirts went with me to college and were so soft and thin that they looked better suited to wiping grease off a wrench or stuffing a drainpipe.

At some point silk-screening technology, cheap Chinese manufacturing and the Internet came together in a poly/cotton three way that exploded into a tee-gasm that is still reeling with aftershocks.  I first noticed it’s infancy in the gas station, Mr. B.’s, which was just off campus from my college.  Next to the oscillating hotdog heating contraption, the pot of thick black coffee and a shelf of Dolly Madison pies (just typing the name makes my fingers feel diabetic) was a little rack of joke t-shirts.  All the captions sounded like something Dilbert would say if he was high…”A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work”, “S.S.D.D. – Same Shit, Different Day” or “Free Mustache Rides”.  On the other side of the t-shirts were primary colored foam trucker hats atop a turn-style of bumper stickers that said stuff like: “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for”, “My other car is a Porsche” or, my favorite: “Ex-wife in trunk”.  I’ve never had an ex-wife, but if I did, I’d keep her in my trunk, too.

I've been shot by a horse, I'm bleeding...t-shirt!

Next came an avalanche of just giving away t-shirts.  Of course, they were usually all polyester.  Gross, but free.  You’d go get your car washed; they’d give you a t-shirt.  Go to a fraternity mixer, leave with a commemorative party t-shirt (usually designed by one of the more creative brothers).  Open a savings account at the bank; check off a new t-shirt.  Ball parks even bought special t-shirt cannons to blast freebies into the crowd.  And my favorite t-shirt give-aways were from the bail bondsmen near all universities.  When you would go make bail for a friend who was sobering up in the drunk-tank figuring out how they were going to spin a D.U.I. to Mom and Dad, the bondsman would give you a consolation prize t-shirt for the accused.  If they were wearing said t-shirt the next time they were arrested (because let’s face it, that first D.U.I. is just a gateway arrest), the bond company would cover a cool $50 of that resulting bail ticket.

I know that my liver has been very, very naughty

When Big Daddy and I were strolling La Rambla in Barcelona last month, I pointed out that I had seen maybe three different Spanish kids in two days wearing Black Flag tour t-shirts circa 1986.  Black Flag was a SoCal hardcore punk band popular in the way back.  WTF?  Then Big Daddy said that Barcelona was the hippest city just based on all the t-shirts and that he was going to go on www.threadless.com when we got home and have one made that says, “My t-shirt is cooler than your t-shirt”.  And that’s when it hit me that I could just let go of all of my see through and holey t-shirts because I can just order new ones.  I don’t have to “ be there” to get it.  I don’t even need to be in the right year or even on the right continent.

Pretty much everything is destined for a re-issue, and that includes t-shirts.  “Vintage” t-shirts sales are thriving.  There are not too many things that can fall under “collector’s item” anymore.  Artwork is photographed and stored on disk, someone will download a concert to an mp3 for sharing within hours of the curtain falling, Disney re-releases everything and the Franklin Mint replicates their own replicas.  With mass production, ordering from home and FedEx, it’s not easy to buy something unique anymore.  With everyone having access to a new jersey sleeved Van Halen 1984 tour shirt with the stroke of a keyboard, the joke shirts are back.  But now they are intellectual and/or ironic.  Look out Americans, because right now they are huge in Europe.  Unlike other American exports like David Hasseloff and Jerry Lewis, these will make a successful comeback here at home.  You’re already seeing them on teenage hipsters and trust-fund deadbeats, but when your mother shows up to the family Labor Day party wearing this you’ll know I’m right…

Everything old is new again...even Grandma!

Scenesters get old-school, or just get old

5 Jul

When Hot Damn was in high school, we didn’t have hipsters.  There were dweebs, jocks, nerds, hoods, mallrats, punks, new-wavers, skaters, pot-heads, juvies, rivet-heads, brown-nosers, homos, band-dorks, theater people, scenesters, campers, girls that took The Cure way too seriously and so on.  But, no hipsters.  They hadn’t been born yet.  I’m not exactly sure where I fit on the scale of labels and teenage coolness.  It’s not that I consider myself without definition; more likely it is that I kind of embraced bits and pieces of them all, floating in a social abyss.

One thing I was into was the “music scene” and so I knew a lot of scenesters.  I listened to low-dial college stations, hung out in record stores, made themed mixed tapes, read Maximum Rock n’ Roll and snuck into clubs to see bands.  A lot.  I don’t think I ever copped a beer; I just wanted to hear the music.  My parents thought that I saw Top Gun like every weekend; they were not so okay with me slinking around downtown at night.  Can’t imagine why.  Growing up in Atlanta, there was no shortage of music venues that looked the other way when it came to minor patronage.  The Metroplex, White Dot, 688, Royal Peacock, Dugout, Atlantan Hotel, Margaritaville, The Point, and Celebrity Club all had slack doormen and great music every weekend.  I saw a bunch of great shows at Georgia Tech, Emory and Piedmont Park, too.  Last Husker Du show?  Saw it.  Ditto for The Replacements.  Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ at a burrito shack?  REM at Piedmont Park?  The early version of The Black Crowes in a basement?  Sitting on stage with the Smithereens?  Check them all and then some.  It was good times.

A favorite band from that era, Guadalcanal Diary, had a pearl anniversary reunion show this past weekend.  (They played that cannibal song!)  Going to the show I expected to see a bunch of throwbacks and familiar faces from way back when.  Well, it turns out that aging scenesters…age.  They are virtually unrecognizable.  Their hair turns grey (if they still have it), their clothes get all practical and store-bought, and they have traded in pointy boots for a comfy pair of Merrells.  It’s also mainly old dudes, not old chicks, who turn out for reunion shows.  But if the music still rocks and the beer is cold, it’s all good.  And it was.  Except that it was hot, and we were sore from yard-work and had stuff to do the next morning.  As we were leaving a tad early, a guy looks at Big Daddy and says, “Hey, don’t I know you…from Cub Scouts?”  Cover blown.

You know, Big Daddy and I actually still go out and see our fair share of bands.  We are usually the older people toe-tapping in the middle, surrounded by young hipsters.  Aside from the skinny jeans, 1970s women’s sunglasses and ironic t-shirts, the hipsters aren’t all that different from the aging scenesters.  Well, except that the hipsters all have tattoos and piercings; the pearly scenesters have nicotine patches and wedding bands.

Like, gag me with a coke spoon

1 Jul

When I was in fifth grade, my school began to teach us about drugs.  They are bad.  Drugs; not school.  In 1980, drug education was boiled down to scare tactics via weird stories about what happens when you sniff glue or take angel dust.  I still don’t really know what angel dust is, but I know that if I ever got a hold of some, it would make me stand on a tall building and think I could fly.  If you are too young, or too old, to remember the glory days of educational anti-drug reel-to-reels, this is a great introduction:

I learned that “dropping” LSD made people think that they were oranges and then they would try to peel themselves.   LSD, or acid, was probably the scariest drug that we were warned about.  It would make you see things that weren’t there, like beautiful flowers in gas stove flames that you would want to touch.  Acid would make you hear voices and if you took it more than three times you would be declared legally insane and you could never give sworn testimony in court.  Hippies took acid.  I was terrified of it.  Filmstrips like this didn’t dissuade me that LSD was the worst thing that could ever happen to a person.

Of course heroine is really bad too, but it was also just plain trashy.  “Junkies” always had gross teeth and just nodded and drooled.  When you were done being a junkie, you’d have to get on methadone.  To get methadone you have to stand in a line every day with other people trying not to be junkies anymore.  The whole needle thing rattled me, too.  I saw an ABC After School Special one time about a cute high-school girl who started doing heroine.  It messed up her life and brought shame to her family.  I would never want to drool on myself or stand in a line every day.

It was during this time when we were finishing up our drug education that cocaine started being a thing.  There weren’t any outdated filmstrips or pamphlets available yet and from everything on TV, it seemed like you had to be a stockbroker, a starlet or South American to get any.  It looked too expensive for ten year-olds to ever get their hands on it.  We skipped learning about cocaine.

And marijuana?  Total gateway to ruining your life.  My parents and teachers would tell me horrible stories about people “on pot”.  Once you tried pot, it was only a matter of days before you were in a straight-jacket on the way to re-hab after being busted for trying to pawn stolen goods to support your habit. When I was in middle-school all of the thuggy kids with divorced parents wore Adidas, because the logo was suggestive of a marijuana leaf.
My main take-away from my elementary school anti-drug unit was that you should never mix uppers and downers together.

Drug education in the new millenium is a bit more sophisticated, reality based and graphic.  Who hasn’t been totally freaked watching one of those meth-morphing clips on Dateline?  Or hearing about the not too far fetched rumor that Alice In Chains front-man Layne Staley had to have his hand amputated due to gangrene from a heroine abcess.  He soon after died of an overdose at age 34.  Eeew.  And just suffering through any jam band is enough to keep kids away from pot.  Or how about this latest thing with flesh eating cocaine?  Apparently, the booger sugar is now cut with some veterinary de-worming drug for livestock that attacks your skin after you partake.  It turns all purple and black.  Gross.

There are a lot more drugs out there now.  Crack, meth, ice, crank, ketamine, oxyanything and bath salts are all new on the scene.  And then there’s astounding invented stuff that people will smoke, snort, huff and inject to figure out if it’s “good”.  I once read an interview with Marilyn Manson, who was talking about smoking sherm with Leif Garret.  Sherm?  It’s a joint dipped in formaldehyde.  How bored do you have to be to give that a try?

I think that my tactic for keeping my own kids off drugs will probably just be this:

Don't do drugs

What’s my name again?

21 Jun

When she was in Destiny’s Child, Beyonce crooned “Say My Name”.  Michael Jackson’s little sister stormed out of the Jackson 5’s shadow when she boomed, “No, my first name ain’t baby.  It’s Janet…Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty.” A person’s name says a lot about them.  You can read a name on a piece of paper and can immediately have some general knowledge about them.  Paco Sanchez, William Witherspoon, Sha’taviqua Moore, Patrick O’Flannigan, Brandy Smith, Ira Ruby…do you see where I’m going here?  But, unless you are Picabo Street, your parents, the state or a medical student with a twisted sense of humor gave the name you have to you.  It’s your name, but it wasn’t your choice.

I was named in honor of my mother’s identical twin sister, Charlotte.  Ours was a close-knit family and even though my Aunt Charlotte lived in another town, she was around a lot.  And if she wasn’t staying with us, she was on the phone with my mom several times a day.  When my mother would say “Charlotte”, she was usually talking to her sister.  This was confusing to me.  I’d hear my name then go trotting into the room where my mom was, only to be shooed away and told, “No, not you.”

Another problem with the name Charlotte, besides it being a hand-me-down, is that it is long.  In elementary school you had to write your name on the provided line on any ditto sheet you were given.  My name could never neatly fit on name:­­­­­­­­­­­____________    And finding a key chain or fridge magnet at a souvenir shop with “Charlotte” in puffy letters was never going to happen.  Girls named Kim, Lisa or Beth didn’t have these kind of problems.  Lucky.  Oh, what else?  Well, there was the crazy portrayal by Bette Davis as the title character in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte.  Iron Maiden had a song called “Charlotte the Harlot”, which was part of a series known as the Charlotte saga.  Just what every girl longs to hear: songs about a dumb whore with her same name.

When I transferred schools in the sixth grade it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give my name a tune up.  No one knew me there, so on that first day when all of the teachers handed out index cards for you to write down your 411 stuff, I filled in the space of “name you are called” as Ann.  It was so liberating and short.  Ann Hall.  It would fit anywhere.  Only four different letters.  And I could be associated with Annie Hall…that was so much cooler than crazy Sweet Charlotte rocking and clutching a music box in a dark bedroom.  Changing schools was going to turn out to be the best thing ever.

After about six weeks into middle school, my homeroom teacher made a call to my mother that brought it all crashing down.  “Mrs. Randall (we had different last names…furthering the name confusion and complications), this is Mrs. Margenson from East Cobb…No, she’s doing very well in her classes…Making friends?  Yes…But the reason for my call…there has been a lot of absences.  Mrs. Randall, does Ann have a problem, is there something that we should know about?”  Stunned silence.  Then my mother asked, “Who?  Is?  Ann?”

Yeah, I hadn’t bothered telling my family about my name change.  I knew that my mom would be pissed and the rest of them would tease me mercilessly.  This switcheroo was mine and they didn’t need to be involved.  So, it turns out that because I had absolutely no experience with being called just Ann, and no association with it outside of school, I wasn’t perking up at the name.  Teachers had noticed, and discussed in the teacher’s lounge that Ann clearly had an issue.  Ann never responded when she was called on in class unless she was being looked at directly.   Ann never turned around in the hallway when classmates called after her.  Ann seemed kinda spacey.  Ann was counted absent a lot because she never responded with “present” during class roll calls.  Maybe Ann was deaf.  Turns out, Ann didn’t know her name.  This made Ann feel retarded.

I was right.  My mom was furious.  And my brothers and step-dad thought it was hilarious.  So, on mother’s orders I had to go back to school and tell everyone that my name was really Charlotte Ann, but they could just call me Charlotte.  Back to Sweet Charlotte crazy land.  Great.

After I graduated from college I did what most English majors do…I went to work at the family business.  I didn’t do the other English major venue, law school, for another couple of years.  Some of the younger or more recent hires that had not really met “the family” were greatly confused about who I was if I wasn’t “that Charlotte”, my aunt.  When I talked to people on the phone they would ask, “Now, which Charlotte are you?  You’re Frank’s daughter, right?”  Even though my Aunt Charlotte had never actually worked at any of the plants, her name was known to all.  So, I pulled Ann back out, dusted her off and and tacked her back on.  Problem solved.

As an adult, I’ve learned to sign my name in a series of swoops and swirls that can fit on a small line.  Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte hasn’t been seen by anyone in years.  The Cure wrote “Charlotte Sometimes”, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions have “Charlotte Street” and Julian Cope released “Charlotte Anne”.  They mitigate the Iron Maiden thing.  Nowadays I get called all sorts of names: Charlotte, Charlotte Ann, Mommy, Hey You, Miss Lady, Hall’s Mom…I’m an adult now and I don’t really care either way.  I know who I am.  That’s not true, entirely.  I’m over people calling me Charlene.

Hot Damn’s hiatus starts in a hot mess

31 May

Hot Damn is going on hiatus.  Not to worry, it’s not like in 1983 when NBC put the well-loved Manimal on hiatus.  After eight riveting episodes of the always dapper and often breathy Dr. Jonathan Chase morphing into hawks, panthers and menacing snakes to assist hottie Detective Brooke Mackenzie with important investigations, executives at NBC put a hold on Manimal.  Presumably, the special effects were just so ground breaking and mind-blowingly realistic, that the studio simply needed more time to deliver quality transformations of a three-piece suit clad Dr. Chase into a horse.  But we know how it played out.  There was never an episode nine.

Unfortunately, this past week saw me transform from Hot Damn into a hacking, exhausted, ear clogged, fevered, upper respiratory infected Hot Mess.  And it’s bad timing to boot.  Remember that big summer trip?  So, I am unplugging for the next three weeks or so.  However, I have two new Moleskine notebooks, three new pins and a promise to take lots of notes.  Hot Damn will be back with lots of tales.  So, in the words of Jim Kerr…

“Don’t you forget about me… don’t, don’t, don’t don’t.”

Graduation means get out

25 May

Yesterday, we talked about gratuitous graduations.  Am I a killjoy?  Is it weird that I didn’t shed a tear the first time I dropped anyone off at mother’s morning out?  Is it wrong that I peeled out of the parking lot, with my stereo cranked to full volume?  Is it okay to admit that this past weekend I was looking at all of the great travel options for September through December and thinking how kick-ass it’s going to be when the kids are in college and we can take off on spontaneous, reduced cost trips?

Can you find me?

I graduated high school in 1988.  My graduation gift from my parents was a set of American Tourister luggage.  Two rolling suitcases, a garment bag, week-ender and the train case were all there.  At the time I thought it was a pretty crappy set up, but now I understand the symbolism. I did also get a giant backpack, Eurail Pass and an open-ended plane ticket for the summer.  I think that there was a not so subtle message there:  GET OUT!  They couldn’t wait for college to start in the fall.  My parents were ready to be empty nesters a.s.a.p.

On the morning that I left for college I was in a hurry to get on the road.  It may be the fist time that I actually finished packing and loaded my car the night before a departure.  Just as I was heading to the garage door, my mother said that she needed to have a word with me.  In private.  Ugh.  What was she going to tell me?  I had gotten the sex talk at age seven when a load of porn magazines fell out of ceiling tile in one of the brother’s basement bedroom.  Surely, we weren’t going to have a refresher.  Was she going to talk to me about drugs?  Oh, God.  How awkward to have your parent say words like “doobie” and “acid tab” to you.  Maybe she was going to tell me to make good decisions and wax on about how I would make friends that would last a lifetime in college.  Sigh.  Or worse, she was going to cry and say how she wished my father (who died when I was 2 ½) was there to see this…blah, blah, blah.

Dorm sweet dorm

Wearing a floral housecoat and a towel twisted into a turban on her head, my mother sat on the edge of her bed with a huge crystal ashtray balanced on her knee.  I sat next to her and she stretched out her intro by lighting one of her skinny foot long ciggies and taking a long drag, which she exhaled through her nose.  And then it went like this, “I am so proud that you are going to college today.  You are moving our of your bedroom and going to live in a dorm, and one day you’ll have an apartment…”  Okay, so far, so good.  Where is this going?  Then this rushed out of her mouth: “You will always be welcome to come home for holidays, summer break while you are in school and some weekends.  BUT you are never moving back into this house.”  Huh?  I was seventeen and getting kicked to the curb.  I so did not see this coming.  She went on to talk about how weird it is for kids over age eighteen to still live at home and if it happens they never leave and everyone’s lives are ruined.  I put the top down on my car and drove to college in a complete daze.

When I graduated from college, it was a sparse affair.  I didn’t even want to walk, but was forced into it.  The only people from my family that came were my mother and her identical twin sister, Charlotte.  Because they were essentially the same person with two names, it was like just having one person there.  I don’t know who made our commencement address.  The air conditioning was out in the auditorium.  It was more boring and pointless than a neighborhood zoning committee meeting.  As I was saying my good-byes in the parking lot, I coyly asked about my graduation present.  My mom said I wasn’t getting anything until she saw the actual paper.  What I had been given when I crossed the stage was a diploma I.O.U.  Basically, the check was in the mail.  That damn thing didn’t come for months and mama was taking no chances.

Not my t-shirt

My gift ended up being an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime extended trip to Thailand, China, Singapore and Indonesia with my parents.  This happened a year and a half after I graduated.  The thirty-one hour plane ride with them affirmed that finishing college, diploma and all, was the right call.  Not only would I would never have to live in their basement, I’d never want to.

Getting a head start on graduation

24 May

As May comes to a close there is a flurry of graduation ceremonies.  I have gotten announcements for both college and high school commencements from family members this year.  Thank God, there were no actual invitations, so that I can just look at the pictures on Facebook and hit the thumb’s up “Like” button from the comfort of my sofa.

Speaking of Facebook, there is no shortage of status updates from attendees of all sorts of graduations this spring, for instance: “I can’t believe my baby is going to be in kindergarten next year.”  A-hem.  Or, “I cried all the way through the fifth grade graduation.”  Whaaaa?  Holy shit people.  Pull it together and look at the big picture! You know what would have me bawling my eyes out?  If 13 year-old Snakebite was still in pre-k or fifth grade was going to be the ceiling of Hot Tub’s experience with school.  If everyone else moved on and my kid was on auto-repeat I’d be a shrieking mess.

At what point did celebrating finishing elementary school become, like, a thing?   Isn’t it a law that all children have to go to school until they are sixteen or something?  By that account, these “graduations” should just be called “end of the year recital” or “final singing performance”.  Graduation, really?  I don’t remember any sort of transition ceremony for anything aside from getting to “bridge” in Brownies…and that was done in a classroom with two moms and a handful of nine year-old girls.  We got colored paper napkins, two trefoil cookies and some orange Hi-C when it was over.  Has this memorializing of expected everyday accomplishments become like a participation trophy for grown-ups?  Is it so if tragedy befalls, a mother can look back and say, “Her graduation was such a special day for our family, we were so proud,”? I don’t want to minimize getting over life’s hurdles, but is plowing through pre-school really one of them?

Who does this pre-graduation graduation business mean something to?  Not the kids, really.  When Snakebite “graduated” from fifth grade she wasn’t bursting with pride that she had carried on with our rich family tradition of knowing the branches of government and being able to cypher.  She just wanted to know if she was finally getting a cell phone.  She did.

We don’t have any special end of anything coming up this month that warrants a certificate and reception.  It’s making me feel a little out of the loop.  Can I just start having graduation fetes every spring for hitting my mile stones?  Like, this year I could graduate from being a stone-cold bitch to just being an ass.

How I got atmosphere induced narcolepsy, or why I hate musicals

18 May

Gross

I hate musicals, but why?  When I was a kid I loved My Fair Lady, GiGi, Mary Poppins and even The Wizard of Oz.  On Saturday mornings I am usually belting out “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain.  But, at some point, after seeing Tommy, I began to writhe in my seat whenever an actor would break into song.  And if so much of a scintilla of choreography is present in anything, I practically get apoplectic.  It’s not like my parents beat me with rolled up Playbills or practiced aversion therapy while screening the film adaptation of Oklahoma.  I can listen to the Cole Porter songbook all day long, and I know most of the words to the Rogers & Hammerstein catalog, too.  Still, I can not watch a musical!  So what gives?

After a lot of soul searching and careful consideration I can hone in on exactly two experiences with musicals that have shaped my disability to sit through any production with singing and not squirm then fall fast asleep so that I can detach from what is happening in front of me.

Can you find the crashed car

I loved The Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album so good that it is rumored to be the catalyst of Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s most significant nervous breakdown.  Who couldn’t lose themselves staring at the cover art?  It was like a Who’s Who of popular personalities, many of whom were recognizable to me at the time, like the Hardy Brothers, Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley and others who I wouldn’t recognize until I was older.  Furthering my fascination with the cover were the hidden clues as to whether or not Paul McCartney was really dead.

But the album’s jacket was just a window dressing for what was inside.  The music hit me in a way that was really powerful for a little kid.  I didn’t know what made “Within You, Without You” or “A Day in the Life” so good, but they were.  Songs like “Getting Better” or “With a Little Help From My Friends” seemed like they were written especially for me.

Horror movie

You cannot imagine what a shit bomb hit my life during the summer I turned eight.  At the Franklin Road Theater in Marietta, I was taken to see the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie.  It was like watching a puppy being tortured.  Everything that I loved about the album had been perverted.  There was a feminine Peter Frampton in painter overalls cavorting with the BeeGees acting as the Beatles, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Steve Martin, George Burns and Earth, Wind and Fire.  Oh, the humanity!  I can only guess that the Beatles green-lighted this mess while they were camped out in India sucking on the hooka pipe and gobbling mushrooms with Ravi Shankar and any two-bit guru with a sitar.

How could this have happened?

So that was number one.  Number two is this:

Simply awful

The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Holding my sides.  Ugh.  Groan.  Eyes are rolling.  Okay, so what I think happened here is that I have older brothers.  Growing up, they would get to “stay out late” when they were going to see the midnight showing of this crapgasm.  They all allegedly loved this movie.  There was the soundtrack album in our house, maybe a poster and lots of quoting at the breakfast table.  At least that’s how I remember it.   I hope to God this was just an act that was played out for the benefit of my mother, who would allow them to break curfew only if they were at the theater.

I guess I was fifteen when I was finally allowed to go see the movie.  Not only was it the Holy Grail…the midnight show, but it was also going to be my first time seeing it.  The palpable excitement that I felt in the car quickly turned to “What the hell?” as we walked up to the ticket booth.  Where did all of those dorks in costumes come from?  It only got worse as people pelted stuff at the screen, shouted out the dialogue, brandished squirt guns and then got up to dance along with the film’s action.  The crowd participation was more animated than seeing a slasher flick at an all black theater.

I couldn’t tell you what happens beyond the first fifteen minutes. The stress of seeing the aptly named Rocky Horror Picture Show and it’s fans marks the first time that I was able to invoke my atmosphere induced narcolepsy.  I have not stayed awake during a musical performance…film or stage produced, since.  I’ve slept through Cats in London, NYC and Atlanta.  Snoozed through Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.  Caught winks during Wicked, Grease, and every musical in the Fox series during 1993…when my mother gave me season tickets.  WTF?  And I even rested my eyes when Snakebite was involved in a play at school.

I told you that I am Mother of the Year.

Nothing says “Guilty!” like a killer pair of eyeglasses

11 May

During the early months of our courting, Big Daddy would throw me the side-eye whenever we would be out and I would motion to some dude with my head and say, under my breath, “He looks like a rapist”.  Or “He looks like a molester”.  Or worse, “He looks like a serial killer”.   I know that a lot of people, especially the ultra-bed-wetting liberal sort, think that profiling is somehow bad or wrong.  They are wrong.  I am right.  Always.  Well, most of the time.

Nightly news

Growing up in Atlanta, one of the hallmarks of my childhood was the acute awareness of Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered Children.  Kids, mostly black boys, started disappearing in the summer before fourth grade.  They would later turn up dead, their bodies dumped in the Chattahoochee River.  The community was paralyzed by fear and uncertainty.  Curfews were issued.  Every afternoon and into the evening there would be an announcement on the television or radio that would ask something like, “It’s seven o’clock.  Do you know where your kids are?”  Terrifying.  I would shake like a chihuahua when anyone I didn’t know spoke to me on the street.  By the next summer there had been thirty victims that were linked in one way or another to a single killer.  Police and psychologists gathered information about victims and meshed it with geographic, demographic and psychological features they believed would be significant markers in revealing who this sadist was.  We now call this criminal profiling, and it is good.  Using the profile, Wayne Williams was arrested and convicted.   This particular case was the first well-publicized instance of criminal profiling being used successfully.

A lot of naysayers out there think that the fix was in.  There’s all sorts of conspiracy theories about how The Man used Williams to alleviate public pressure, that the decedents were actually victims of satanic rituals performed by local covens or that the killings were carried out by area Ku Klux Klansmen to initiate a race war.  Gimme a break.  Every thing that I need to know about Williams’ guilt is in this picture.

It’s the glasses.  All the creepy dudes have them.   If I were a judge and a defendant came into court with a pair of these on I’d dismiss the jury and just move on to sentencing.  Check out my evidence:

BTK Killer Dennis Rader

Boy eater Jeffrey Dahmer

Why, is that Kim Jong Il behind those Foster Grants?

Even Hollywood knows that to authenticate a seriously warped character, the props department has to make a run to Lens Crafters.  Did you see Robin Williams in One Hour Photo?  Two words.  Heebie.  Jeebies.

Character development with eye wear

You know how there’s that Sex Offender Registry?  You can go online and type in your zip code and get a map of your neighborhood that pinpoints where all the diddlers and freaks live so you can avoid letting your Cub Scout sell popcorn unchaperoned on that street.  This service was especially comforting when JonBenet Ramsey killer-wannabe, John Mark Karr, lived less that two miles down the road. If law enforcement were really serious about halting sex crimes they would start tracking the purchase of gold wire kinda aviator-ish specs.  There would be a Molester Glasses Registry.  And if the registrant had any sort of scant or patchy facial hair, they’d have to register twice.

Waco wacko David Koresh