Archive for April, 2012


the arbor day iguana is really your parents

Hi, Dad. I hope you don’t mind me turning off the television, but I have a few things I think we need to talk about before I leave for college tomorrow. Ever since the horrible car accident that left you permanently in a vegetative state, life has been tough for all of us. Mom and Angie and I miss you so much: your hugs, your goofy laugh, your great ghost stories when our friends would sleep over. Yours was a spirit so full of joy, so vital, that it didn’t seem possible your voice could be silenced. And now I don’t even know if you can feel me stroking your hand, much less hear what I’m saying, but I hope that on some level, you can understand, if not my words, then my love. The doctors told us there was no way of knowing how capable you were of perceiving the world around you, but if you had much awareness at all, you probably know that high school wasn’t easy for me. Ninth grade’s a hard time to lose your dad, and I really lost my way for a while. My grades didn’t seem that important anymore, and I couldn’t seem to find direction in my life. What can I say: the various male role models I looked to in the ensuing years- my jayvee basketball coach that only paid attention to the good players; or Brandon, my shift manager at Red Lobster; or LaVell, the old guy in the club- just couldn’t measure up to you. I’m really sorry for that night my junior I was too thoughtless to move your bed into the other room before sparking up a joint with a girl and fingering her while we watched Alien Vs Predator 2. That was a pretty weird thing to do, but when Stacey Rosen tells you she’s into something, you go with it. Gotdamb, dad, from the side she looks like a muhfucking dollar sign. If you are capable of any conscious thought, you had something else to drool about that night, if you know what I’m sayin. Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, I should have been doing more to help Mom around the house, and instead I was just giving her one more thing to worry about. But despite my missteps, I’m going to devote the rest of my life to becoming a man that would make you proud. I’m not letting this scholarship go to waste. I’m gonna study hard, so I can realize my entrepreneurial dreams, which range from an ebay business selling antique crushed-velvet couches with original asbestos upholstery intact, to my business model for a chain of high end sex dungeons.



“Hey, you couldn’t have picked another place to do that?”
Instead of exiting the drive-thru, the lady has gone out of her way to pull into the parking lot, and has taken the trouble of positioning her vehicle to where it won’t be easy for me to avoid confrontation, and rolled down her window. Seems like a lot of trouble just to yell at a stranger, but here goes.
“I’m sorry; her English isn’t so good,” I reply, gesturing to my dog that has just taken a dump on a strip of grass abutting a Taco Cabana parking lot. I don’t bother to mention that I specifically stood between my dog’g butt and the window of the dining room, a location strategically selected to prevent Taco Cabana’s patrons from witnessing anything too unappetizing, or that the restaurant is well over 100 feet away from where we’re having this converation.
“You really think this is something to joke about?”
“I dunno. You really think this is any of your business?”
“Maybe I’m making it my business.”
I resist the impulse to throw the plastic bag of dog shit into her open window while thanking her for volunteering. A buddy of mine recently had a story like this, and he said the best way to avoid confrontation is to ratchet things up immediately and show a willingness to escalate further, thereby establishing yourself early as the crazier party in the transaction, and the other person will almost always back off. “Don’t be afraid to use the c word,” I can imagine him advising me in this situation. Instead I just walk around the back of her vehicle to resume our walk, carefully monitoring her reverse lights as we pass behind.

Kim returns to the kitchen after placing Maceo’s plate in front of him. We’re eating several kinds of leftovers tonight, and he likes his cold. I add a little tomato juice to a pan of rice so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
“I guess you don’t want any zucchini,” she says.
“I was gonna try to focus on the taco stuff from the other night,” I reply. “I got distracted for a minute with those carrots, but now I’m back on track.”
“I’ve been trying to get him to try a new food. Would you mind eating some in front of him?”
“Just a few.”
We sit at the table, and Maceo wrinkles his nose. I assume it’s the zucchini he’s pushed to the margins of his plate, but I’m wrong.
“What’s that smell? It smells like…hmmm.” He takes a minute to comtemplate dramatically. “It smells like beer.”
It’s not beer, just a smell he associates strongly with beer. Kim gives me a look.
“Probably beer,” I say, then change the subject.
Later, Kim and I are doing dishes in the kitchen while Maceo picks at the remains of his meal, leaving the zucchini untouched. It takes him forever to eat because he’s always getting up to wander around.
“You really should wait until after he goes to bed to get stoned,” Kim says. Her tone is entirely non-judgmental, and being stoned, I’m especially receptive to suggestion. She’s a virtuoso.
“You’re right. But this is my first night off in a week, and I really wanted to make sure I’d be pleasant to be around,” I offer.
“You need to do that to be in a good mood.”
“It doesn’t hurt. Both of us have been pretty irritable lately with these allergies. I couldn’t even do my Neti pot today, I’m so stopped up.” I pour myself a glass of milk, grab a cupcake from a sealed plastic tub, and head to where Maceo is sitting.
“Hey, look what I’ve got.”
“Yeah, dad. A cupcake!” He’s excited. I may have an angle to work here.
“Yep. Good thing I ate all my zucchini.” I take a bite, and it’s a little stale.
“Dip it in your milk, dad.”
“You think I should?”
“Yes, dad. Dip it in your milk!” His eyes brighten. I hesitate a little, suspending the cupcake just above the surface of the ice-cold milk.
“You sure?”
“Mmm-hmm!” He can barely contain himself.
“Like this?” And then I dip it in the milk and take a bite, careful not to let any milk drip onto the table.
“Is it good?” He asks, excitedly.
“Yeah, it’s really good,” I tell him.
“YEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” Euphorically he jumps out of his chair and high-fives me.
“Wow, you should eat a bite of zucchini so you can have a cupcake too,” I say casually, so as not to betray that I am playing my trump card. I made a good effort, but this motherfucker? Ain’t eating shit.
“He’s gonna be a hungry guy later tonight,” his mom warns from the kitchen. I concur.
“Yep. Grouchy too.”


secret of the uzi

The first sardine out of the tin, dripping with oil, had been just what his neglected taste buds were dying for all day, but he mindlessly plowed through the rest of the salty pilchards so quickly that their flavor had barely registered on his tongue, and now they were all gone. He sighed, then tipped the corner of the can into his mouth to drink the remaining fluid and placed the empty vessel into the passenger side floorboard of the 1987 Honda Prelude. It was in this car that MC Skat Kat, the animated rapping cat from Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” video, had made his home for the last few days as he drove across the country in hopes of returning to Los Angeles to restart his career and life. He parked in the rain outside a ratty motel, internally debating whether he had enough money to stay in a bed for the first time this week, ultimately deciding he had earned it after exhibiting considerable fiscal discipline by spending so many nights in the car so far, and not desiring his backache to worsen before the final leg of his journey. “Gimme eight hours’ worth,” he said to the desk attendant as he slapped several crumpled, rain-soaked bills onto the counter.
Sleep escaped him in the damp-smelling room as his thoughts turned once again to what had gone so wrong the last time he had been out west, and his mind wandered over well-worn territory by remembering Paula, whose love had once made it all seem worth it. Despite their differences, it had all just worked out when they first got together, but the couple foundered when her career took off as he struggled to find work. She had the money, while he was always broke, and his failure to provide a good life for her whittled away at his self-esteem. They had found themselves growing increasingly incompatible, and not just because his barbed cat penis had made consummating the relationship impossible. Over time, things they had initially been willing to overlook, such as her dislike of cigarettes while he liked to smoke, became insurmoutable obstacles.
He climbed out of bed and began going through his suitcase, hoping that reorganizing his few possessions would help him to put his mind at rest. Where he once had a fine leather garment bag carried by bellboys and filled with bright red suits with extravagantly long tails, his apparel now consisted entirely of several white tank tops and a pair of blue pants held up by suspenders, inexplicably adorned with two oversized buttons on the front. Back to basics, he thought to himself as he refolded them and placed the clothing gingerly in the duffel bag atop a dartboard with Simon Cowell’s picture pasted on it. He pulled out his cellphone and called his prospective roommate, one of the few souls who could understand his plight, having himself been the less successful member of an entertainment duo. They told people they had met at a charity event, which was technically true, since they had both been in line at the same soup kitchen. So strong had been the bond between these two fellow travelers that MC Skat Kat had felt a slight twinge of guilt over having originally listed him in his phone as “Andrew Ridgley, the other guy from Wham!” Straight to voicemail again. He began to worry.


doritos make good taco shells, but they make even better croutons

Despite my having worn dark glasses that day, she could tell I had shifted my gaze her direction. Perhaps there had been a subtle change in my normally cool, placid tone when I bit my knuckle until it bled and made a noise mimicking a 1920s car horn, but the game had begun, and now something had to be said. If a lifetime of watching handsome gentlemen pick up girls in beer commercials had taught me anything, it was that fortune favors the bold, so I struck like a cobra. Spontaneously waving to a stranger walking out of the bathroom as I strode in her direction, I pulled a GPC out of my pocket and nonchalantly did that thing Method Man does where he lets the smoke drift up from his mouth into his nostrils, just like in my Myspace picture. “May I have this dance?” I inquired. She paused long enough to make me briefly consider the possibility that she might not say yes, then put her hand forward, but not without first affixing on her face a no-nonsense look to let me know she had many options for companionship that night and I would be given little margin for error. We glided across the floor, our grace inspiring all the other people in the Rite Aid to begin pairing off at random. This one old white couple shoplifted a bunch of Pez dispensers as they foxtrotted out the door. Soon, a news crew had come to cover what the media had dubbed the Drugstore Dance Marathon, and the nattily dressed reporter approached my lady- whose name I still did not yet know- and me.
“As this extemporaneous act of human kinship and mutual love enters its fifth hour, an inspired city begins hearing offers from possible corporate sponsors for naming rights to the event. I’m Fred Ridgedale, and if I may, I’d like to cut in and dance with this nice young lady here,” he grinned as he tapped me on the shoulder. Things got really quiet all of a sudden, and he repeated the request as the cameras continued rolling. “May I cut in?”
“You can fuck right off,” I snarled, and no sooner were the words out of my mouth than she pulled me close and kissed me. On our way to her place later that night, she put my jacket on and once again sensed my gaze on her.
“You should watch where you’re going instead of looking at me,” she laughed, nearly losing her balance and falling off the skateboard I was pulling behind my bike. She steadied herself, centering the water-skiing rope over my back wheel.
“Girl, you look so good I can’t help it,” I breathlessly replied. “You know in cartoons when Daffy Duck or whoever hasn’t had any food in days and everything he looks at looks like a hamburger? Well, you look like a hamburger right now.”
“That’s because I am a hallucination of a hamburger. You’ve been trapped in the mountains with a broken leg. Your descent into madness is caused by hunger, but compounded by the growing realization that the rescue choppers overhead are unlikely to find you.” I gripped the empty granola bar wrapper ever tighter in my hands and parted my blistered, chapped lips to try to scream out for help, but my throat was too dry for it to amount to much more than a whisper.

April 2012