I have a nifty little trick I do when cleaning the pool filter. The filter is encased within a metal canister that is sealed shut with a twisty thing (technical term) on top. To break the seal, I loosen the twisty thing and then turn on the pump for one quick second. The lid to the canister pops up, and you can then easily remove it. Like I said, it's a nifty trick... if you do it right. Rule number one, don't leave your fingers between the twisty thing, and the metal canister when you flip on that pump switch.
I think I let out the loudest howl ever. Not even the time I scared the shit out of the doctors, and nurses when they were removing bone marrow from my hips, was I as loud. The backyard cats ran for their lives, birds burst out of the trees in a panic, and the lawyers in the office on the other side of my backyard fence started filing law suits for sexual harassment against me. Why? Because I left my fingers between the twisty thing, and the canister lid. Why the sexual harassment suits? I can't help myself, when I am hurt I automatically start screaming out the worst, most vile, most profane string of filthy words I can think of.
Yes I know it shocks most people within earshot, but it also makes me feel better. If I'm going to be suffering with my fingers smashed like pancakes, I'm going to make everybody know it. How loud was I really? When I walked Sasha later in the afternoon, my neighbor across the street, Stan, said he had heard me screaming. Honestly, I was a bit disturbed that my neighbors heard me screaming at the top of my lungs, and nobody called 911. I guess they know me pretty well.
I am not a big fan of change. I can deal with it alright, but I'd rather things and people not move around. Please leave my big fluffy chair where I put it, there is no need to keep rearranging the furniture. Always put the box of cereal back in the same place after you use it, and for that matter never, ever lose my favorite spoon, the one I eat my cereal with. Of course Mark loves to change things. My big fluffy chair is where it is now, not because I wanted it there, but because that's where Mark put it. The cereal box keeps popping up in different places. It's like some kind of Easter egg hunt every morning. And that favorite spoon that I had for twenty years? It disappeared a little over fifteen years ago, one week after Mark moved in with me. Well now I find out that my favorite bar, the place I have been going to for five years, is moving. I don't like where they are moving it to. It's going to be on an even busier street, in another town, and it is going to be just beyond the reasonable walking distance from my house. Not that I walk to the place now, it's just that I like to think I can. This now means that I will have to find a new favorite bar, with a new favorite bartender.
It's a little like breaking up with a boyfriend. We've become accustomed to each other, and I feel comfortable with the relationship. I walk in and my bartender, Evan, is already making my drink. I know where to sit, where the best air-conditioning is, and which drunken assholes to not make eye contact with. I have already started thinking about which bar I will go to, and have eliminated the old man bar across from my present drinking establishment. I won't go to the 'bear' bar down the street because those guys are just unappetizing with all that body hair and body odor. I also don't think the lesbian bar would work out, although I could put on the Alicia wig, and falsies. Oh well, I have until January to figure this out.
Meet the Press, CBS Sunday Morning, The Chris Matthews Show, Face the Nation, all preempted. Anything carried by our local television stations, preempted for the rainy, windy, storm called Isaac. You have to understand, I watch that shit. I watch all those blabby, dry, Sunday morning shows. Part of the fun of those shows is watching Mark scream back at the television screen (He still doesn't understand that they can't hear him). I guess it didn't matter, the fact that we have satellite television means that every fifteen minutes we would get the message, "Searching for satellite signal" for half an hour. That's because satellite signals are blocked by rain, and Isaac has been a very, very wet storm. So when the television wasn't working I would turn to the computer to check the weather radar, looking for those short five minutes breaks when it would not be raining. There were exactly two such breaks yesterday which I used to shuffle Chandler and Sasha over to the neighbors lawn for a quick pee, and poop. My dogs have been very good. Other than two pees in Mark's shower by Sasha, they have been very patient. Of course I should not complain. During one short spurt of working satellite television, I saw those poor people who went through Isaac while huddling in plastic tents in Haiti. It made me feel humble, at least until Isaac interrupted the season finale of True Blood. That made me whine louder than the wind roaring outside.
I just took Chandler for a little walk. It looked like there was a break in the rain, but by the time I got my shoes on, and Chandler's harness on, the rain started again. We went anyway. Hey, there is some wind out there too. Chandler peed at the end of the block, but when he did his poopy dance, and started into the poopy crouch, a giant gust of wind came up and blew the turd back up his butt. So if you don't hear from me for a few days, it'll be because we have no electricity. We have it right now, I don't know how, but FPL is notorious for unreliable service. If a pigeon farts while sitting on an overhead line, our electric goes out. We have had the electric go out when the wires fell to the ground because two squirrels were chasing each other across the wires. Hopefully Isaac won't be so bad, and I'll have a new post on Monday. It really is just a bit of rain and wind.
I needed a new line cartridge for the weed-whacker, a light bulb for my office light, and a replacement light bulb for the living room track lighting, so I asked Mark to take me to Home Depot. "Do we need batteries?" Mark asked. "Batteries?" Goddamnit, I had forgotten the hurricane. I had been trying to ignore it, which is my usual preparation for a storm. Waiting until the day before the storm hits has become my routine because of how many times the news people here in Florida have lied to me. They cut into television shows days before anything might happen, and panic the populace into storming the Home Depot and the super markets. "Okay batteries, but I have to stop at the Publix first and cash in my rolls of quarters." So while I am at the service counter of the Publix, Mark has decided to do some grocery shopping. He has joined the panicked masses, grabbing cases of canned tuna, and bottled water. I cash in my quarters, and find Mark near the back of the store. "Why are you getting all that water?" "Hurricanes a commin. Need water." "No, we have two cases of water from last year along with the three gallon water cooler in the bedroom." "Hurricanes a commin. Need water, need tuna." His eyes have glazed over. We buy the water and tuna, and then stop at the CVS so Mark can score twelve rolls of toilet paper at half price. I certainly can't fault him for that, but it kind of bugs me.
Finally, I am at the Home Depot. After fifteen minutes of searching through all the weed-whacker replacement cartridges, I lose it. "Goddamnit, where the hell are the damn Troy Bilt parts?" I scream to no one in particular. Suddenly a Home Depot representative pops up next to me. "We don't sell Troy Bilt sir. That's Lowes." "Fine, you didn't have the light bulbs I needed either." I say in a huff, and storm out of the place. So it was on to Lowes. Again I am confronted with a wall full of different weed-whacker line cartridges because the damn manufacturers cannot settle on a single standard. I start cursing, and let all within earshot know that I am unhappy. "Goddamnit, where the hell are the damn Troy Bilt parts?"
It turns out that Lowes has discontinued the electric weed-whackers, and all the parts for them. So after four stores, and two hours, I have returned home without the three things I went out for. But I do have enough bottled water to fill a bathtub, and enough canned tuna to keep the cats happy for a year, and some really cheap toilet paper. Oh, and we never did get any batteries.
"Ahhh, such a sweet bouquet. Smells like it was dropped at about seven ten this morning, still fresh, mainly Purina with a hint of left over steak. Excellent, sniff, sniff..."
"Come on Chandler, quit smelling that dog shit. Let's finish your walkies." "Shush asshole. I'm going to sneak up on that squirrel... easy does it, easy now, it doesn't see me... Oh goddamn it, you've scared it away. Hey, there's Chase, my favorite German Sheppard."
"Chandler! Don't pull me." "I've got to catch up with Chase. He's my best friend."
"Geez Chandler, hello Margaret, how is Chase today?"
"He's doing well. Oh my! What is Chandler doing?"
"Chandler, stop it! We don't hump Chase, sorry Margaret."
"It's okay, I guess." "Oh Alan, you're no fun. Say Chase, sniff, sniff, is she feeding you Beneful? That stuff is awful."
"Quit smelling his ass Chandler. We'd better go Margaret, see you later. Come on Chandler, you still have to shit." "This looks like a good place. No, over here. No I was right the first time. Wait, let's go back over there."
"Chandler, quit walking in circles and shit already... Good boy, just let's not keep walking while you poop. Geez, how am I going to pick all that up? It's spread out over ten feet." "Well I don't know about you but I feel five pounds lighter. Hey, what are you doing? Oh my god, you're picking up my shit in a plastic bag. What a great idea, a poop collection. Can we go back and get some of Chase's? Where are we going to keep it? That room with that computer and exercise-cycle you never use would be good... Hey! What the hell? You just threw my shit in that garbage can."
"Come on Chandler, let's go. I still have to walk Sasha." "Hey, there's my best friend Dandy."
"Chandler! Quit pulling me."
Huge puffy lips, even puffier huge tits sitting almost up on their shoulders. This must be The Real Housewives of Orange County. At first when Mark started watching that crap I ignored it, but then came The Real Housewives of New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Beverly Hills. Suddenly the television in the bedroom was awash with botoxed, silicone implanted, collagen pumped 'housewives'. Never mind that not one of them would know how to prepare a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or in which room of the house the cleaning supplies are kept. They are housewives because that's all they do, sit around the house all day sniping at each other while spending the husband's money. So the other day I was pleasantly surprised to hear Mark mention that he was losing interest in those shows.
"They have too many. Besides, they just keep doing the same thing every week, bitch, primp, and spend."
Hmmm, I thought, sounds familiar. Anyway, I figured that maybe we could start watching some better television from the comfort of our bed now. I was wrong.
Mark has discovered something new to obsess over. It's called 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo', a show about a terribly obnoxious seven year old former beauty queen, and her fetal alcohol syndrome siblings. This family of mud loving rednecks is run by the morbidly obese mother, aptly called Mama, and a suspect looking man named Sugar Bear. I watched only five minutes of this horror show before thinking, how could television get any worse? Five minutes was enough to prove that the bar could be lowered even further, for during the first ad break the humorously named TLC, which stands for The "Learning" Channel, was promoting another new program. This one featuring a two headed girl. Actually it is conjoined twins who share the same body. Two heads, two brains, one body. My problem isn't with them/her. My problem is with the fact that television has become the equivalent of the freak shows that used to line the carnival midway when I was a kid. At least when I was a kid, my dad could keep me away from the freak shows no matter how much I wanted to see them. Mark makes it too easy.
Here in my bathroom I should expect strange odors, except that I'm taking a shower, and not pooping. What the hell is that very strange aroma? I've cleaned the toilet, scrubbed it, and squirted that blue cleaner up under the lip of the bowl and scrubbed that. I've scrubbed the floor, twice, even under the vanity which was a very tight squeeze. I took the rubber bath mat outside and squirted it with Chlorox cleaner, rinsed it, and let it dry in the sun. I have scrubbed every surface of that bathroom, yet still it stinks.
Here is my theory. Last week the exterminator came by. I pointed out to him that we had an ant problem, and could he take care of it. "Sure, you have ghost ants in this bathroom." He was talking about Mark's bathroom, and I am pretty sure there are a lot of ghosts in that place. Alex the exterminator sprayed his poison all around Mark's bathroom, and then went outside and sprayed around the bathroom window. "Okay, now check out my bathroom. I have ants crawling all over the bathtub, and under the vanity." Five seconds in and Alex announces, "You have big head ants in here." I must have looked at him funny because he repeated it. "Yes, you have big head ants, that's what they call them." He was saying this as he sprayed more poison all over my bathroom. "Look at 'em go sir." Sure enough, hundreds of ants started swarming out of every crevice. It looked like a science fiction movie, and was horrifying. So back to my theory, and that is that there is a giant ants nest somewhere behind a wall or under something in that bathroom, and the poison killed them all. I just can't get rid of that vision in my mind of millions of dead ants rotting away somewhere in my house. Can't get rid of the smell either.
This seems promising. I've arrived at my eye doctor's office ten minutes before my appointment, and there is only one other person in the waiting room. I should be in and out of here quickly. I sign in, and take a seat. About five minutes later a lady and her husband get off the elevator, and walk over to the optometrist's desk. She has broken her glasses, and needs them to be repaired. It went like this.
"I was going outside with my dog when I walked into the glass sliding door, now my glasses need a big adjustment, ha, ha, my dog must have thought I was an idiot because I was in such a hurry, did you know that we are grandparents now he is such a cute little baby I think I like my pair of glasses that I got in nineteen eighty two better than the ones I just broke I should get a pair just like them, unless they don't make them anymore, this is our first grandchild our daughter is a great mother and breast feeds I think sometimes in public but that's alright because I can't see it very well now anyway because I walked into that glass door...... "
It was as if somebody had flipped a switch and she was off and running. I know I put some commas in there, but only because the possibility of her going that long without a breath isn't very likely. She went on, and on, with her husband only getting in a few grunts now and then. The optometrist simply talked over her. When she finally left with her repaired glasses, I looked at the time. I'd been waiting an hour. It was two thirty, and my appointment was for one thirty. Just as I was about to start bitching to the receptionist about that, the lady who does the eye tests called my name. The eye test is called the 'Field of Vision' test. Basically you put your head in a box with little flashing pin-point lights, and you press a button every time you see a light. I hate it. It's like torture for me. It's hot, the examination room is tiny, and just for a little bit of added atmosphere the technician let out a silent stinker.
"Ewww, really, you want to wear that?"
"Yes, why not?"
"I don't know... "
As Mark's voice trails off, he lets out a faint sigh of resignation. It seems that I am an embarrassment to him again.
I hate parties. Not all parties, just parties where there are seven or more people. I can handle a small dinner party where memorizing everybody's name and face won't take more than half an hour. It's the mega-parties, where strange people walk up to me and greet me as if I should know them, that I hate. Last night Mark and I went to a good friend's birthday party. As far as parties go, it was very nice. Once again however, I was stumped at names and faces of people who Mark says I should know.
"Hi, how have you been? It's so great to see you again." The nice smiling lady says.
"Yes, yes it is." I mutter in a barely audible mumble.
After she leaves I have to ask Mark, "Who was that?"
"You don't remember? We sat with her at the wedding. Talked to her all afternoon, and evening. Really, you don't remember?"
No, no I didn't, and I didn't even recognize some people who I see all the time. You see this party was also a costume party. If there is anything I hate more than a big party, it's a big costume party. The theme of this one was the seventies, disco, and all that came with my favorite decade.
So I'm standing in the living room in my costume, and Mark has that look on his face. He of course is done up in a fabulous outfit, including bell bottoms, an Afro wig, and a big boomerang collar shirt. He is looking me up and down, frowning, digging those old age furrows deeper into his forehead.
"Come on, let's go." He says with a sigh.
"What's wrong? This is what I wore in the 1970's. A tee shirt, cut off Levi shorts, athletic shoes, and red striped tube socks."
"Never mind, let's just go."
"Hey, we can't all be Bootsie Collins."
There they are, sitting on the counter all gooey and sweet. Mark has been baking again, this time he made his version of Hostess Cupcakes. Obviously, his are a hundred times better. None of that chemical flavored filling, or the rubberized chocolate frosting on top. Mark has used ingredients that are actually edible, identifiable food. There are two problems with Mark’s cupcakes however. First of all there are the calories. I estimate fifty thousand calories are sitting on that cooling rack. Although I know better, at least forty thousand of those will end up in and around my gut. The second problem is demonstrated by my flip flops, which have stuck to the kitchen floor as I approach the sweet little cakes. Mark you see, cannot cook or bake without making a complete mess of the kitchen. These things are dripping with melted chocolate, and have a mixture of melted butter and marshmallow sauce inside them. At least half of those ingredients have been distributed throughout the room, on the counters, on the walls, and most of all on the floor. Our kitchen is like a gigantic, sticky, fly catcher. The only thing that makes it a bit easier is Chandler. He’s been in there for half an hour licking every surface his tongue can reach. That gives me more time to kill before I actually have to clean it all up. I figure dog spit is easier to wipe down than marshmallow goo.
I actually like walking my dogs in the morning. I like the quiet, and calm of the early dawn, and quite often we get to see wildlife that we don't normally see. Yesterday, halfway around the block, Chandler and I were coming up on the large lot where he loves to stalk squirrels. This morning, however, it wasn't the squirrels that were running across my neighbor's large expanse of lawn. It was my neighbor. I was startled to see two large Muscovy ducks run across the street in front of us, followed closely by my neighbor hollering at the top of his lungs.
I understand his frustration. Muscovy ducks were imported here a hundred years ago from South America, they aren't native. When I first moved here I was amazed at the large flightless birds that would waddle around most neighborhoods, standing in the middle of the street as if they owned it. They can't fly, they poop all over your driveway and lawn, they are just all around dirty birds. What they do have going for themselves apparently, is that they are good eating. Now I'm not going to go down the street and catch one of these things, kill it, pluck it, and gut it for Mark to prepare. However, I have noticed one thing over the years. Since we have had a large influx of Haitian boat people over the last twenty years, the number of Muscovy ducks roaming the neighborhoods has greatly diminished. I have no problem with that, I only wish the boat people would develop a taste for some of our other pests.
On our way back from Chicago we had to make an unscheduled stop in my home town of Tinley Park. We were heading west on 159th street when Mark asked,
"What town are we in?"
"We're on the edge of Tinley Park, and Orland Park. Tinley is on the left, and Orland.... "
"It's ugly. This is so damn ugly."
I looked around, and I could not disagree. Mile after mile, on either side of this four lane divided street were strip malls, auto dealerships, and fast food joints. It was an assault on the senses that is repeated over and over again throughout the United States. I tried to explain to Mark what had been there, that how when I was a boy this street was a two lane rural highway bordered on either side by picturesque farms. When I was a kid you would drive into our town on a pleasant country road. There was very little development outside of the town borders, maybe a tractor dealer, or the garden store on the edge of town, but not the dull crap that is there now. The quaint little town I grew up in does not exist anymore. Instead of corn fields and cow pastures, houses and more houses march off to the horizon. Mark was not impressed.
"It is so damned ugly." And this is coming from a guy who grew up in the Bronx, and New Jersey. The old, original core of our town is still there, all made up to look as though it is still the quaint little town. They have put up antique looking street lamps, and brick planters. It's sort of like putting too much makeup on an old farmer's wife.
I found that the rest of the country is pretty much the same. As we made our way from Chicago to Florida on interstate highways, I noticed that each and every interchange looked like a platter of hors d'oeuvres, with giant toothpicks in them represented by the hundred foot high signage. Each and every motel, gas station, and fast food joint had to have one of these massive signs. It was hard to tell the difference from one town to another. That is until Mark started jonesing for a Culver's Butterburger. He spotted that sign from two miles away.
This is what happens when you go to too many stripper bars.
They keep giving you your change in singles. I went to two stripper bars while I was in Chicago, and only gave one stripper a dollar. He stopped and talked for at least fifteen minutes. Not much profit in talking to me.
There is a
show on one of those cable channels, History, or Bravo, called ‘Hotel
Impossible’. On it this guy goes to help failing hotels, and turns them around
within the one hour show. One of the things he does is inspect the rooms by
flipping over mattresses, and looking under things.
It’s three o’clock
in the morning, and I am lying in my LaQuinta hotel room bed, slowly rolling
towards the edge. I swear that there is a body encased in this mattress. It has
a huge lump in the middle, and a deep dip near the side of it. Unlike the guy
on the show Hotel Impossible, I am terrified to look under things in this room.
I need to sleep, and I am afraid that if I looked I would definitely find
something totally revolting. I finally fall asleep only to be awakened by the
most awful, obnoxious odor you can imagine. Aha! There is a dead body in this
room. Then I realize that Chandler has fallen asleep with his ass in my face.
That is the other thing about this room, LaQuinta always accepts dogs.
Traveling with two dogs, one ninety pounds, and the other a bit of a yapper, makes
it difficult to book a room without putting up a cleaning fee. LaQuinta does
not care. In fact it is sort of like a dog shelter when you check in.
Now back to
that bed with the strange lump in it, and a dog farting in my face. Apparently Chandler
doesn’t like it either, because he got up after gassing me, and jumped across
to the other bed to join Mark and Sasha. Finally, I can get some sleep.
A day late,
but we’re on our way home. Made it to Tennessee today, barely. Remember how our
PT Cruiser lost its a/c on the way up to Chicago? Remember how we took it to
Napelton Chrysler and they charged us $650 to fix it? Remember how five minutes
after we left their lot with our ‘fixed’ car it failed again? Well after we got
the thing re-repaired at Bettenhausen Chrysler we took off for Florida. Around
35th and the Dan Ryan Expressway it failed again. We drove all the
way out to Orland Park, to Bettenhausen’s, and this time they took the
it seems that the little door that flips back and forth, directing the air
flow, is stuck.”
goddamned sonofabitch! That is exactly what I told Napleton Chrysler was wrong
with the goddamned, mother scratching thing three weeks ago. That is exactly
what I asked them to check before I spent $875 for parts and labor, only to get
a car returned that would only blow hot air in Chicago’s hundred degree heat.
told them “Staple it, glue it, clamp it, wedge the damn thing in the proper
position. Whatever it takes, just make the a/c work.”
“But sir, if
we do that the heater won’t work.”
standing behind the car, directly in front of the license plate that said ‘Florida’
care! I never use the goddamned heater.”
So we now have
a/c. It’s blowing just fine, but I gave Mark strict instructions.
“Do not turn
it off, and do not touch any of the a/c controls until we reach Fort