Thursday, May 31, 2012

lest we forget

It is Memorial Day and I am looking forward to an evening of no work hours. My night job consists of alternate weekends but I have worked two weekends in a row because my whiny partner needed to go to the rodeo three nights running.  You would think one night of animal exploitation would be enough. I know for a fact the rodeo was here for two nights only but Samantha lies and that makes for a turbulent work situation. Usually I also work Mondays but my employer says there are no funds in the budget to pay me time and a half on the holiday.  This would result in an extra $14.61 according to my calculations, but what do I know of management and money.

My dad will be in the parade today because he is the oldest Marine in the world. They will drive him around in an open convertible and he will hate this, the attention you know, but he comes from a generation where duty still meant something.  Last year the sign on his car said "Sone Giegerich." How you can correctly spell Giegerich and misspell Sonny remains a mystery to us all.  Dad said some of those jarheads are not too steeped in smartness. Dad also comes from a generation where family nicknames like Sonny and Buddy were acceptable and encouraged, thankfully that's passed.

Until PTSD was recognized we gave no consideration to returning veterans.  We just figured they were glad to be home and out of those ugly clothes and not eating out of cans. How could we expect a young person to be plucked out of their high school gym, set down in an arena of horrors and butchery, ordered to kill and maim other young persons and then take the next plane home and resume plowing the family farm. And yet this stupidity prevailed and kept the war machines churning all for the sake of bucky blue patriotism.  Feed me another, oh Great White Father.

These days the statistics of  human war damage are blatantly out there and not buried under the mediocrity of every man's life.  And I saw a photo in the newspaper, the new defense secretary of Spain patrolling her troops, her eight-month pregnant belly preceding her. What is the chance this woman will agree to a war, a process that would kill children and other necessary persons.  With women more prominent in the international scheme perhaps we have a chance at a more humane existence and those battlefield cemeteries will lose their hold on us and our history books. 

They got it right.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

mine ain't so cute either

Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary, sixteen years, and they said it wouldn't last, actually I said that.  I hate picking out anniversary cards for my husband or anybody else.  Hallmark and associates portray married people as living in some idyllic storybook land clinking champagne flutes and staring longingly into each others' eyes.  Anybody who has picked up her partner's sweaty underwear every single day knows the real truth exists far outside that nonsense theory.

Granted, earlier anniversay cards we gave each other included references to nudity and cute butt jokes, but those days have been sealed in an airtight box and shipped down river. Big Dave would love to see that card again but it ain't gonna happen, no sir, no way, uh-uh.  And then there's the lengthy soliloquy poetry card festooned in flowers and white doves and intertwined rings that describe my husband as a cross between the archangel Gabriel and Antonio Banderas. I cannot be responsible for that much heavy emotion and false hope.

My card does not need to promise undying devotion or talk about my partner's positive attributes that are "as numerous as the stars in the heavens," because I am a woman of science and that's impossible.  Instead, something simple and direct, "we'll have a nice meatloaf for dinner and then watch the news. Have a great day." Maybe a sunset on the front.

And I am fond of the big guy with the uncute butt.  It cannot be helped, the passing of time and the sagging of skin and I can accept this but he needs to pick up his own goddamn underwear.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

i wanna be a skateboard dude

 Big Dave volunteered at a local Renaissance Fair, oh sorry, Faire.  I myself would not do these events. Fat men in tights are offensive on all levels and the activities they pursue while wearing them are equally offensive. These guys are embarrassing to their children and their dogs and yet they believe they are artistically inspiring to all the innocent people at the park just trying to have a good time.

I arrive at the Faire to pick up the fair Dave and am greeted by a woman in a crimson fiery dress with bells at the hem and sequined feathers in her hair. She waves at me, a large turkey leg in one paw and and I sigh. I don't have the energy to pretend I'm interested or entertained, get thee away scary damsel.

I only like two groups of people, Tibetan monks and skateboard dudes.  Granted, they are similar, most notably a steadfast devotion to their trade and they both like to wear orange.  Skateboard dudes are young and sleekly slender, emphasis on slender, a segment of our population that is fast becoming extinct in my part of the world.  I like looking at healthy people, they are less apt to fall at my feet and  require chest compressions. I'm good for about seventeen and then you're on your own, chump, you shouldn't have had the double cheeseburger. But, I digress.

Whether they are on the board or not the dudes exude an unworldly gracefulness. They move with the fluidity of swallows dipping and diving and they maintain that agile physical focus even while standing in line to buy gum. I especially admire the attitude, the quintessential sublime essence of aloofness. They don't require any human companionship other than their cohorts. They are not part of the population, they are the exception to the population.  In a word they are cool.

Perhaps in my next life I will come back as a skateboard person or a Tibetan monk. Either way I will be happy and fulfilled.  I know one thing. I will be born into my new existence with an intact revulsion to Renaissance Faire people wherever they proliferate.

Monday, May 21, 2012

they won't be calling me again

I finally track down Denise and I had to call three different schools to accomplish this.  She called me weeks ago regarding an ecological meet tomorrow and I am to be a chaperon for fourth graders, my grandson included.  I don't remember agreeing to be a chaperon, I could have, but the exact story is not coming back to me. Perhaps my daughter or my grandson volunteered my name, I'm easy meat, no big deal.

We are at the park now and at last Denise appears wearing a
tie-dye shirt, who wears this stuff, but it's no surprise, she has the memory capacity of an acid-wasted hippie, I would know this. We are waiting for Ranger Phil to start his presentation on Water Safety and for all practical purposes Phil should be dead. He is an old lumpy man with pale skin like a fish's belly and he consistently forgets to put the microphone next to his mouth so God knows what he's saying.  He does tell a few tasteless alcohol-related drowning jokes that are clearly lost on this age group.

 "Did you bring the clipboards?" I ask Denise. The kids are required to take quizzes after every lecture and the teachers were supposed to bring clipboards. "In the past the children have found the clipboards annoying so I did not bring them this year," she giggles.  How can a 9x11 piece of cardboard be annoying and my fourth graders are growling about balancing their test papers on their knees and that's annoying.

The kids fret over the test questions. "This stuff wasn't in the reading material," they commiserate to each other and their lighthearted mood is fast disappearing.
"How important is this in the scheme of things?" I ask them, "is doing well on this test going to get you a better job? Hell, no. Let's just get to the end of the afternoon and we'll go to Dairy Queen.."  I try to establish a measure of relativity here and create a pleasant diversion but I may be confusing them. I don't care, they need to hear this.

 We're the first to leave the event because I saw no point in staying to view test scores.  But I do know we beat the Catholic kids' butts and they even had matching sweatshirts and caps with "Eco Meet 2012" across the front, the papist snobs.  Due to our early departure we are first in line at Dairy Queen and soon we are back in the air-conditioned luxury of my daughter's soccer mom van eating chocolate extreme blizzards. As we round the block to the school parking lot I hear Dylan tell the others, "Adam's grandma says winning is highly overrated."
 My work here is done.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

going with crazy

Who gets their eyes examined at Wal-mart, it appears I do.  My insurance company cancelled my regular eye doc and replaced him with the cheapest cheap ass doctors they could find.  I am staring at the list of approved newcomer providers and recognize none of the names and then at the very bottom of the alphabetized column is good ol' dependable Wal-Mart.  I have always bought new frames from the mega center as well as countless tubs of cashew chicken salad and that's how I ended up getting my eyes examined at Wal-Mart.

I am plagued with a respiratory infection and I get nasty coughing spells when sitting in confined airless spaces and that's exactly what the examination room proves to be. Three minutes into the exam a saliva-spewing cough rips out of my chest and my new doctor literally recoils and I am desperately gesturing towards my water bottle, the one he took away from me "because there's a lot of electricity in these machines."  I am not liking this guy. He has an abbreviated Willy Wonka hair cut and smells like the latest Jennifer Lopez scent and that triggers another coughing spell.

 Dr. Wal-Mart is not happy, how can he be trying to run a serious medical practice with a PA blaring "lawn and garden, price check" every ten seconds. He tells me about tumors he has detected on eyelids and I swear an orgasmic intensity takes him over. The guy doesn't want to be in this closet of an office sandwiched between Cost Cutters and Photo Magic Baby Portraits. He sees himself at a prestigious clinic in eastern Europe rubbing shoulders with recognized geniuses of opthamology, his face in Reader's Digest, that pinnacle of medical rock stardom.

My current glasses are bronze and grey aviator frames, something Howard Hughes would have worn. I need a goddamn kick in the pants to get me out of my nunlike choices and I am fingering frames that look like a rainbow on steroids. The lab tech drawls, well, if you want to go with crazy . . .   I  turned 60 last week, I'm going with crazy.

My only concern is that strangers will view me as interesting and want to get to know me because I'm wearing these crazy frames and of course I am all that, but it is none of their business.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

envious? hell, yes

I am starting to dislike young pretty women. They sit there with their perfectly tanned legs and there are no bulging veins or blotches in sight, a sea of perfect skin. Their teeth are pearls sparkling in petunia pink gums and their hair, ah their hair, is voluminous and smelling deeply of cool woods.  Now there are young pretty women of fine character, lots. I am talking about the ones who truly and erroneously believe it will always be like this, themselves adored and fawned over and they don't realize it's their packaging getting the attention, not the shallow spoiled girl that lives inside.
I am in the drive-through line at McDonald's and like all drive-through lanes it was designed by someone from Mars, it makes no sense and it allows for a carload of pubescent doll-faced girls to sneak ahead of me and the other obedient citizens who are waiting for artificial chicken and the rest.  They are without morals and conscience I say to myself but now I have my jumbo icy fountain drink and I am alert and pacified for awhile.

I am waiting, waiting, waiting at the Asian #1 Nails salon and there are a lot of unpolished nails in front of me.  The door opens  and there she is, a girl of sixteen maybe, innocence and sensuality oozing off her, defining her. She smells like cake frosting and you can tell she is accustomed to being stared at. Like royal personages her eyes stay averted and she looks no one in the face. There is no character etched into her young face yet and that's what men want.  Well, some men, a lot of men actually.

Finally it's my turn to be scrubbed and painted but the prom queen is standing up and headed toward my deserved chair, oh she knows better. The oriental lady is nodding and agreeable and I have been enduring a touch of laryngitis for a couple of days and can barely squeak out my displeasure.  I finally grab Saigon Sally's* arm and point to my chest and then my feet and over to the empty chair, a raspy scary sound coming from my squeezed esophagus and she looks at me with a primal fear in her eyes.  Now she gets it and Barbie has to sit down, her mobile unit buzzing and she is engaged with her latest text message. Any satisfaction I would have gotten out of seeing her reaction was lost in the blank unblinking stare she put on that little box with the neon pink cover.
* no disrespect to the women of the eastern hemisphere, but it was my turn, goddamn it, pay attention.

Friday, May 4, 2012

shades of 1979

I had three kids in 3.3 years and I'm not kidding.  I didn't taste hot food for months. When I brought my last infant home I laid him in the bassinet and said, "I'll get to you when I can, kid," and I swear he winked at me.  I am not trying to illicit sympathy, these were good days, but goddamn I was hungry and skinny. Early family pictures show me as a skeletal figure displaying and posing small children for the camera.

My life revolved around underfoot toys, baby shit and little faces and bodies that never stayed clean. And then at some exhausting point I decided to retire the washcloth.  It seemed wherever I went I was carrying the damn thing and the children would run when they saw me. I was a vigorous scrubber. My mother made comments like, "why does his hair smell funny?" and "come over here and see what's in his ear," but her statements went unheeded. I didn't see the point, I was tired.

Our first house was in a scary but low cost neighborhood. My kids wore home-made duds in wild and psychedelic colors, thanks to my kind but colorblind mother-in-law who frequented garage sales.  To save money I bought one huge box of Tide laundry detergent and used it for all cleaning projects from dishes to toilets.  And then someone I had known before my current impoverished lifestyle came to visit. She had made it big in real estate in Chicago, listed in Forbes magazine, one of forty youthful entrepreneurs predicted to be millionaires before age 40. She arrived at my door wearing a floor-length mink coat and it was late September.  Her Mercedes-Benz was parked out on my scary street and I decided not to share my concerns with her on that subject.

 She saw the big box of Tide and I explained my cleaning process to her."Really?" she sniffed. "I thought only poor people did that."

Later I was rehashing the visit with my mother. When I got to the coat and the car part she said, "why is she friends with you?"  This woman had a radar sharp ability to get directly to the point, ouch.  I don't believe it was her intent to be insulting, she just didn't want to waste any time on unnecessary words.

And then I told her about the Tide box discussion. She looked at me for a long time and then asked, "why are you friends with her?"  Zing-a-ling, Marie, zing-a-ling . . .