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Archive for the ‘Fantabulous Friends’ Category

Yes, sports fans. It is moi – – The Blog Slackinator. I will refrain from excuses of why I have not been writing in the blog of late and just say this instead: I haven’t felt like it. I don’t really know WHY I haven’t felt like it but felt like it, I have not. For me, writing involves ideas that I always have cooking on the stove that is my brain – – and there are times when these ideas are at full boil and I have to get them out of my head before they begin to screech of their own volition similar to a lobster that has been chosen for dinner out of that big murky tank found at a Red Lobster near you, and put into a big pot of scalding hot water. Then there are times when the ideas are simmering just below the surface of me – – not in any hurry what-so-ever to be put out there into the world for people to see, judge, and once again conclude that I need to be committed to a cute little mental institution down the street, to lead the pack of patients in pill popping games similar to drinking games but without as much puking (When watching “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, every time Nurse Ratched gives a scary, icey glare, EVERYONE POP A VALIUIM!!!)

But I digress.

Given that I PROMISED to give you the Halloween story back….you know…during HALLOWEEN…and I didn’t pay up, then I figured I should make good on the promise, despite the fact that I should really be making dirty elf jokes right now instead. And who doesn’t like a good dirty elf joke? But you’ll have to wait until Valentine’s Day for those, folks.

The Halloween story of festive embarrassment that I have to relay took place about 7 or 8 years ago. I’d just started dating my now ex-boyfriend, Luis, at the time – – and he’d been tasked with finding a Halloween party for us and other mutual friends to attend since none of us had heard of any going on that year. He called me up a few days before Halloween and – SCORE – one of his clients had invited him (and any other guests he might want to bring along) to what was advertised to Luis as a “Killer Halloween Party”. It was rather short notice but we called up our friends and everyone was game for the party.

I hadn’t really considered a costume until that moment because it had looked like we weren’t going to be able to find a party to attend – – so the day before Halloween, I went out scouting for a costume at various Party Outlet stores. The result of this trip was realizing that all of the good costumes had been snatched up already, and I was left with things like a “Shaggy” costume from Scooby Doo or a tattered, gold pimp costume with a rip in the leg. I finally found a little Alpine Girl get-up that was called….get this….”Heidi the Ho” on the outside of the bag in which it came. I estimated that the “Ho Factor” was pretty minimal when I looked at all the pieces that came with it – – skirt, bodice, white stockings – – so I don’t know where the manufacturers came up with the idea that Heidi was luring in wayward mountaineers with Come-Hither looks in THIS outfit.

The night of the party, I happened to ask Luis exactly who it was throwing the “Killer Halloween Party” and he said it was a “Software Geek” client of his who gives this party every year and apparently goes all out with the decoration and spook effect. We were even going to have to park in a different location from the house because there were too many cars and there wouldn’t be enough room. The guy had hired a limo service and a limo would pick us up at this satellite location and drive us to the party. This all sounded good to me and I excitedly relayed this information to my friends who were going with us, hoping to get everyone pumped up.

We all met up for dinner before-hand and I quietly surveyed the costumes around the table as we ate: Zorro, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, A Dominatrix, Naughty Nurse and Heidi the Ho. Not a bad little crew there, all told. A proud addition to any Halloween party.

Later, as we made our way to the party in the limo provided, as planned, Zorro popped out a bottle of champagne and we all shared it en route, laughing, and carrying on as people are want to do when wearing costumes and heading to a “Killer Halloween Party” in a limo. We exited the limo in front of a spookily decked out house complete with fog machines, scary sound effects and eerie lighting. The Dominatrix was whipping us all playfully as we made our way up the walk toward the house and we were generally being quite raucous as we entered the house and headed down the hallway into where it appeared that the “life of the party” was supposed to be as we could see movement in there.

What happened next is difficult to fully articulate through written word and completely express the scene. It was like we were characters in a movie, and as we walked into the room, the needle on the record scratched and everything came to a screeching halt.

No one was dressed up. Well…I take that back. A couple of people were wearing jeans and appeared to have painted their faces like characters from some sort of Dungeons and Dragons computer-type games. And there were two kids there who were dressed as vampires. But what we mainly saw were people against the wall, nervously holding paper cups, not wearing a stitch of anything resembling a costume – – gawking at us.

We gazed into the kitchen and the first thing we saw were about 30 bottles of soda, standing side-by-side on the counter like a Battalion of the Un-Fun. Oh God. There wasn’t even any alcohol to take the edge off of the pain of this moment. The only music was that of silent befuddlement at what spaceship had dropped off this rowdy group of historic figures and sexual deviants into what could only be described as a “First Middle School Dance”…..for adults.

The Dominatrix and the Naughty Nurse grabbed my arm and not-so-subtly herded me toward the bathroom and shut the door on the horror. “What are we going to DO??”, the Dominatrix hissed out of mahogany lips as she widened her silver eye-lashed eyes. “We have to get OUT OF HERE”, she continued with a glare that fully expressed the urgency of the situation. A glare that indicated there was nothing…NOTHING…as dyer as a lame Halloween Party where no one else was dressed up, but where she was currently wearing a black vinyl dress, fishnet stockings, purple wig, and wielding a riding crop.

I said “Look…we can’t just leave…this is one of Luis’s customers and it’s really bad business if we turn around and leave, basically indicating quite plainly that the party is LAME”. They both looked defeated at that point because they knew I was right. I asked that we just make the best of it for about an hour or so and then make a quiet, polite exit. They begrudgingly agreed but not before the Dominatrix hissed again, “Ok…but you owe me BIG TIME”.

When we exited the bathroom, Cleopatra, Zorro and Mark Antony were hanging out in the kitchen drinking some Orange Shasta. They had good news. It was rumored that somewhere in the basement, there was a keg of beer. Zorro and I ventured out on an exploratory mission to locate said keg. We headed down a labrynth of dark stairs and hallways into the bowels of the garage where a small, frightened, shivering keg of beer stood uncertainly in the corner, like someone was holding it there at gunpoint. We filled up six small cups – – rationing carefully since it would appear that there wasn’t much to go around and we wanted to make sure that all of us had the same amount of medicinal assistance to deal with the situation.

When we returned, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, the Dominatrix and The Naughty Nurse had all formed a desperate Conga Line in the kitchen. Like they had suddenly gotten sauced on the Shasta and were overcome with the party spirit. Unfortunately, the party spirit still had not overtaken the other half of the room as they stared at our group quietly, sipping from their cups like it was an afternoon cup of tea and they were on the lawn playing a rousing game of checkers while watching a group of Vagrant “Artists” roll around in the grass doing some sort of vulgar performance art. They were frightened….but fascinated by us.

Zorro and I joined in the Conga line – – trying to willfully manufacture the fun amongst the bottles of soda, boxes of pizza, and plastic platters of grocery store cookies. We eventually stopped, though, when one of the vampire children ventured into the kitchen with an injury. I have no idea where she would have sustained an injury since I had yet to find any activity going on anywhere in the house that didn’t involve just feet shuffling and sipping soda from a cup, but the vampire flung her arm up on the counter in front of the Naughty Nurse with an angry gash staring up from the skin.

It would appear the the vampire child thought that the Naughty Nurse actually had some sort of real, medical know-how because she clearly was seeking HER assistance – – not the rest of ours. One of the more bizarre scenes I remember from that night was looking over at the vampire child being bandaged up by the Naughty Nurse – – whose black, lacy bra was peeking out vulgarly from the inside of her white coat – – as the vampire child gazed down in earnest watching the cut be tended to.

We were finally able to gracefully exit the “Killer Halloween Party” after about an hour, 16 minutes and 22 seconds from when we entered the party. A few of the guys dressed as Dungeons and Dragons characters took a shine to the Dominatrix and the Naughty Nurse and asked to have their pictures taken with them at varying times during the night – -like they were characters at an adult theme park or something. Later on that week, Luis received a montage of photographs taken that night from his customer who’d thrown the party and, sure enough, the Dominatrix and Naughty Nurse were in many of them – – standing beside several different geeky looking guys who were all wearing varying renditions of the same, goofy grin. I’m sure that it had made their night.

All of us never forgot that party – – after all, you never forget the really great parties – – and apparently, you never forget the really lame ones either.

And everytime I see a 2 liter bottle of Shasta, a little shiver is involuntarily released up and down my spine.

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tirefairy

So my new cousin-in-law (got that?) Liz and I were jonesin’ for a trip out-of-town to the beach, and originally were aiming for Pensacola to participate in their annual “Mullet Toss” weekend (the fish, not the haircut – – not that the idea of tossing fish is much better than tossing bad haircuts). But the Mullet Toss was not to be due to some unforeseen circumstances – – therefore, I had to say good-bye to that very ripe, very robust future blog post. So we reviewed our options – – mentally scanning the Floridian possibilities, and finally settled on the Destin/Panama City Beach area. Upon further analysis, we realized that the hotels toward the end of the PCB strip had the best deals – – and these looked like NICE hotels. Not the dingy, mildew infested, “what’s that stain on the bed?” hotels that I remember experiencing there in my youth.

So last weekend, with my convertible stuffed to the gills with far more things than two women really needed for 2 nights at the beach, she and I made our way down south in beautiful sunny weather, with the top down and blue sky above the entire trip. We talked and laughed about nothing and everything – – eating food from the cooler she’d loaded in the back seat and sipping our non-fat Starbucks Frappaccinos. Truckers honked – – we waved and laughed – – like Thelma and Louise except without all the robbery, guns and that whole tragic cliff thing at the end.

As we got closer to our destination, fatigue had set in a bit and she and I were definitely ready to get there. We hadn’t stopped once on the 6 hour trip, so our necks were aching and butts reaching the cheek-numbing point. But we charged ahead, knowing there would be plenty of time to relax and stretch on the beach. Who needed time to stretch our legs at a convenience store when there were ocean breezes ahead just within our grasp?

As we got into PCB, we drove high above the water on one of the many bridges in the area, noting how beautiful it looked and, once again, what a perfect day it was for a drive to the beach. I reached the end of the bridge and began pulling into the left turn lane at a traffic light per Liz’s instructions – – but no sooner had I made it into the turn lane when I heard a loud, continuous roar, and smelled the tell-tale scent of burning rubber. I looked at Liz and she looked at me and she said “that’s you…”. Flat tire. CRAP. I stopped the car, turned on the hazards and as I did so, I heard Liz say “that guy’s gonna help…”. I looked at her and said “what guy?” She pointed out the windshield and said “THAT guy…”

I looked up to see a large, red pick-up truck backing up quickly and purposefully until it was end to nose with my car – – and a very tall, very tan, very jolly looking man with a white-toothed grin leaped out of the car with a car jack already in tow. I thought, “Wow. Somebody was a Boy Scout.” Liz and I had already started unloading the back of my trunk, searching for the spare tire – – but he wasted no time and before we could say more than 2 sentences to him thanking him for stopping, he had put the jack under my car and was manfully pressing down the lever. I looked at the clock on my phone – – I think it had been 60 seconds since we stopped the car, and the back end of said car was already in the air. Talk about a Panama City Beach McGyver. I expected him to ask us if we had any fishing wire, chewing gum and the blood of an Irish Elf so he could magically produce a new tire in front of us right before our eyes.

Once he had the car up, he noted that she and I had still not located the spare tire in the back – – I was about to go get the car manual out of the glove compartment when we noticed that he was squatting under the back of the car and, with a wrench that he just HAPPENED to have with him, he started unscrewing the spare tire which was located up underneath the back of my car. We made small talk with him as he did so – – discovering that he’d stopped to help when on his way to work. We thanked him profusely once again as he put the spare tire on my car, handed me the shredded one which we put in the trunk, and lowered the jack.

I pulled a 20 dollar bill out of my pocket and begged him to take it for his time but he just grinned, said it was his pleasure, jumped in his truck and sped off.

Liz and I stood there and blinked a couple of times, then got back in the car and drove away. From the moment that we’d smelled the burned rubber, to the moment that we started driving again, it had been about five minutes. I felt like I’d witnessed a sighting of the Flat Tire Fairy. Granted, I realize that he was probably a little more eager than usual because Liz and I are both owners of some decent Mammaries that were contained within fairly small tops – – but still. It had been pretty impressive.

So while we experienced much in the way of the traditional Panama City Beach rednecks during those two days – – catcalls and general uncouth behavior that is to be expected in the “Redneck Riviera”, our Tire Hero stood out in my mind as what I’m sure are many locals who live there. The locals who put up with the tourists getting flat tires, and the bad rap that their area gets because of all the Rednecks who show up there with some bad liquor and rebel flag decals, ready to cause trouble. THOSE locals are the kind who would stop and change a tire for two women because it was the right thing to do.

But it WAS a little difficult to remember these sorts of tender-hearted thoughts about the humanity of Panama City Beach when Liz and I were asked by two male southern voices, whizzing by in a car as she and I sat at a red light coming back from dinner one night – – if we wanted to “go smoke some doobies” with them.

Now that’s more like it. Classy.

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amyvikinghat1cr
You know, I didn’t just wake up one day and want to wear a Viking hat. Granted, it’s a perfectly PLAUSIBLE thing to happen in my world, but it just didn’t happen this time. THIS time, I have to…once again….blame Facebook.

Facebook is, I’m convinced, a strange, sometimes disturbing, fabulously inane, alternate universe where your past and present meet in some sort of quasi-reunion extravaganza. I could write an entire post regarding my feelings about it – – but today I am just going to write about one experience that has exploded into an inside joke of epic proportions in my life – – and that is “The Viking Hat Chronicles”.

You see, in the world of Facebook, you can log on and write anything that possibly enters your mind at that given moment and it shows up as your “status”. This status could say anything – – anything at all. ANYTHING. Which, for me (as I’m sure all of you know by now), is like receiving a beautiful, gold-leafed, elegantly scripted invitation to expound on every bizarre, twisted, pseudo-cerebral nugget of information that enters my head. And then the SCARY part is: everyone can see it. All 300 some-odd friends of past and present on your Facebook page: co-workers, a few family members, childhood friends, college friends, long distance friends, old boyfriends, elves, circus clowns, Jimmy Hoffa……….they all can SEE what you’ve written and then, what’s more, HAVE AN OPINION ON IT.

On the day that the Viking Hat Strangeness began, earlier that afternoon I’d had lunch with a friend at a nearby quirky little restaurant – – and on the wall of this restaurant was a painting of a Viking. He was a stern looking Viking – – with a red beard and beady little narrowed eyes which seemed to say “If I weren’t locked up in this painting, I would kick over every table in the room, drag out all the screaming women by their hair, and then burn down the restaurant with the fire that I breathe from my mouth” This caused my friend and me to ponder about whether any kinder, gentler Vikings existed. Maybe one who knitted afghans and quietly read romance novels by the fire, while the rest of his brethren went out to do their daily raping and pillaging. And whether this Viking would have been shunned by all the other Vikings because he wasn’t mean enough to hack it in the Viking’s world of conquering peaceful villages.

With all this on my mind, I came home, and opened my newly acquired book on Iceland – – because in parallel to the Viking painting, I had also been having thoughts about Vikings in relation to Iceland since I’ve become obsessed with the thought of visiting there – – so I’d bought a book on a whim recently to nurture this desire and keep it rolling around in my brain. I’m much more want to create action that way, I’ve found.

As I read this book and pondered the lunch conversation – – I looked at the laptop on my coffee table and thought that perhaps the World of Facebook might want to know my thoughts on this subject matter. Just like I wonder if they might want to know my thoughts when I type out my statuses about tater tots, my Thursday afternoon desire to be an 80’s Rap Star, and my opinion that if Jabba the Hutt had a lesser-known southern cousin in the universe, his name would be Hank. Hank the Hutt.

And so what I blasted off towards Planet Facebook on that particular day was this statement: Amy is reading about Iceland and wondering if there were ever any kind Vikings. And if they were shunned by the Rape and Pillage Vikings?

Whenever I post a thought, I am often surprised by what will catch a person’s attention. Sometimes a status that I think is pretty dadgum funny will be passed over completely, leaving a ghost town of non-commentary around my lonely status – – tumbleweeds blowing down the streets of my vacant attempt at humor. Other times, something completely off-handed that I write on a whim without thinking about it much will garner tremendous response. I almost want to say “But I didn’t even TRY to be funny on this one, People!”

On the day of the Viking comment – – I was somewhere in between these two extremes. While I had obviously been pondering this thought on that day, I honestly didn’t think many people would care about it. So I put it out there and then began to peruse other parts of Facebook, like taking another “My Personality Quiz” or perhaps send a Chuck Norris snow globe to some lucky person’s wall with the Snow Globe Application. So much time to waste on Facebook – – so many applications with which to waste it.

But suddenly I noticed a comment underneath the status – – then another and another. People were making hypotheses about whether the kinder, gentler viking would listen to Bjork or not – – another theorized that his name would be Norval and a children’s book should be written about him. Or better yet, someone added, how about a musical!!!!?? Oh this was good…this was really good! This was better than Chuck Norris snow globes – MUCH better. No sooner had we ventured down the avenue of the musical possibilities, when some of my European friends who’d actually VISITED and/or studied Iceland began chiming in with facts about Iceland. We were informed that Bjork is sooooo yesterday. That the Iceland young folk were now listening to Sigur Ros. And that an actual real, historic Viking was named….get this…… Snorri. Snorri Sturluson. You could almost feel the collective groan from everyone in the commentary thread because, let’s face it, “Snorri” is a profoundly disappointing name for a real Viking. Snorri is the name of a kid whose lunch money gets stolen on the playground and has to carry around a large box of kleenex to accommodate his chronic nose-running problem. And what was MORE, Snorri had a girlfriend who was named “Oddny”. “Well that’s odd”, we all thought.

All told, there were 72 comments contributed to that conversation from people all over the world from all avenues of my life. A Kumbayah moment taken directly out of an episode from The Twilight Zone. And aftershocks occurred in the days following from this conversation including my request to my friend Murdo to do some Viking hat photo shops that were brilliant. This one was used as my profile picture for over a month:

vikinghat

Based on this profile photo, I got much commentary from people both publically on my Facebook page, and privately via e-mail, discussing the Viking Hat – – wanting to know the story of the Viking hat. Some people didn’t care about the story behind the Viking hat, they just loved the idea of me wearing a Viking hat and really didn’t ask WHY I was wearing it. Which, frankly, is a tiny bit worrisome, because it means that people just accept the fact that it’s a perfectly NORMAL thing for me to do. When would people start worrying? If I was dressed up as a demented clown? Or perhaps photographed myself in a George Washington costume eating some pop tarts? What would it take to garner concern that maybe…..maybe…this time, I’ve TOTALLY lost my Raman Noodles? (A request though – – if you think I HAVE gone ’round the bend, please don’t tell my mother your concerns because she’ll call me up and tell me that I will feel much better if I would just clean my house. To my mother, a clean house is the prescription for any mental malady. And George Washington eating pop tarts would cause her to prescribe a REALLY BIG deep cleaning of my house. And I don’t want to.)

Anyway…a few weeks ago, out of the blue, my college friend Heather sent me a note telling me that she had a Viking hat for me. “What??? WHAT????”, I said. “Gimme! GIMME NOW!!!” She said that in a few achingly long days, this piece of plastic horned goodness would be in my hot, greedy little hands. But before she sent it, she took this photo of herself in it:

heatherviking

Do you see? Do you see how the disease has begun to spread? Like some sort of Icelandic fungus…

After I received the hat, and got over my cold, about a week later, I subjected my friend Melissa to the Viking hat while she cooked me dinner when house-sitting for a friend. She wore the hat with pride the entire time she was cooking and let me chronicle the event on film. I think that the hat gave her super human cooking powers because that meal ROCKED:

vikingcooking2

So be warned, people. What started with a few comments on Facebook is now sweeping the nation – – the world! And if you come into contact with me, then you will likely come into contact with the Viking hat in the near future – – and I WILL take a photo of you in it. Just say a little prayer that I won’t make you pose like this in it (cue my mother calling me RIGHT NOW to tell me I need to clean my tub thoroughly):

amyvikinghat4

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drivingfromsantafe
My friend Cathi and I decided to take a trip out west to beautiful, sunny New Mexico last Spring to visit our friend Valerie, in an effort to do what girls do best: drink copious amounts of wine, think everything is a LOT more funny than it actually is, and then head to a spa to be all Zen-like and philosophical. We accomplished all three goals like Olympic Champions in the event of Freestyle-Girl-Weekend.

I actually hadn’t even met Valerie until Cathi and I wheeled into her driveway, yelling cat-calling obscenities at her husband as he opened the gate for us to their working farm located just outside of Albuquerque. Cathi works with Valerie, had been invited out for a visit, and because Cathi knows that I will travel at the drop of a hat, and am reasonably house-broken, she talked Valerie and her husband into graciously opening up their home to BOTH of us. So you can only imagine the look on Valerie’s husband Jon’s face as these two completely loony, southern women pull up to the gate looking hyped up on stale, recycled airplane air and perhaps one too many diet cokes – – and proceed to grin at him like brunette and blond haired hyenas on our first trip out of the woods of Georgia in 16 years. He looked like any loving husband would look who had agreed to let his wife invite over a couple of wide-eyed, excited, LOUD women who were looking to open multiple wine bottles with our teeth and in the same breath, gab in great detail about which movie star has had the most plastic surgery: HE LOOKED TOTALLY TRAPPED.

I was immensely grateful for the graciousness of Jon and Valerie for those three days – – it was a much needed respite away from my crazy world at home – – and ultimately, just what the doctor ordered. We spent a lovely, lazy evening in their beautiful home that first night enjoying delectable vittles that Jon had cooked on the grill, as well as some fantastic vino and wonderful conversation. I was once again faced with the realization that with some people in life, you can just have an immediate ease and friendship right out of the gate. It’s a phenomenon that is so spontaneous and warm when it happens and in this case, attributed to the types of people Valerie and Jon are: Class Acts.

valamycathi

As we continued on with the visit, we witnessed some of the notorious oddities that can plague the Albuquerque landscape in really quirky, wonderful ways – – the first happening the night that we decided to go out to dinner downtown (photo from that night depicted above). As we motored slowly down the main drag, faced with brightly lit storefronts with multi-colored neon-signs, we all three suddenly noticed a group of people crossing one of the side streets just to the right of the car up ahead. We all became simultaneously silent as we noticed that this group all appeared to collectively be walking with a limp – – some appeared hunched over and were dragging their foot. I could feel us all quietly paying respect to what appeared to be a group of people having physical disabilities of some sort. But as we got closer, I realized that there was something really peculiar going on with this gaggle of folks – – for one thing, their clothes were ripped and disheveled. Nothing was computing in my brain yet as nothing was making sense visually – – limping, hunched over people with ripped clothes? What the….???

Then I noticed the pale skin and dark circles under their eyes. Valerie and Cathi must’ve put it all together at the same time I did because we all exclaimed nearly at once: “Are those ZOMBIES??????”

Sure as shootin’ – – it was a bunch of what looked like college students, dressed eerily accurately, as the Walking Dead.

I asked Valerie, “Errr….is there some sort of, you know, FESTIVAL going on?” What sort of festival exactly, I did not know: A bad, B-Movie Carnival perhaps? My mind was racing with possibilities and coming up with nothing. But Valerie wasn’t aware of anything. Therefore we had no idea if we were supposed to be laughing or if….whoa….MAYBE THE END OF THE WORLD WAS NOW UPON US and we would soon have a bunch of the Undead swarming our car and beating on the windshield, demanding to gnaw on our arms like human drumsticks. I could imagine my mother getting THAT call late at night: “Your daughter’s been eaten Zombies”. To which my mother would have pondered out loud: “Well I hope she was wearing clean underwear…”

And of COURSE the End of the World would start in New Mexico. It’s a state that is a freaking MAGNET for the paranormal, after all. UFO’s, ghosts – – Jackalopes. If it’s scary, weird and moves – – you’ll find it in New Mexico.

The next day, in Santa Fe, as I was buying some really, really, really hot chili sauce from a cute little shop that sells nothing but jars, jams and food meant to make you breathe fire (literally), I told the man at the register about the zombies we’d witnessed downtown and asked if he knew of anything going on that would warrant Zombie…er…fashion but all he did was shake his head and say: “Naaah. That’s just Albuquerque.”

It was in this vein of celebrating the New Mexican strangeness that we decided we needed to see a palm reader. So we did a little research and found one of two in the area and decided to make our way over there. In hindsight, given what we had been through with the Zombies, we really shouldn’t have. I mean, a Santa Fe palm reader is prrrrooobably only going to be a couple of steps up from seeing a Zombie or a Jackalope as far as feeling Totally Unnerved. And with a psychic we were going to have to pay money to get our minds toyed with. But this is what three, smart, successful women holding multiple degrees do: lose all sense of sensibility on a Girl Weekend and hand over our money to a gypsy in white hot pants.

When we walked into the psychic’s parlor, we were ushered in to sit on an antiquated old couch surrounded by old, worn furniture. I half expected to see a pot of tea and cookies out on the coffee table, but instead, we were only greeted by small children who kept scampering in and out of the room eying us with speculation. The “psychic” turned out to be the woman who’d answered the door when we first came in – – and she looked all of 23 years old. “Oh come ON”, I thought. “Where’s the older lady with one cloudy, white eye, a peg-leg and a pet lizard on her shoulder?” What a crock.

She informed us that she wanted to see us all separately so we each had to wait outside until the other finished. We all glanced at each other and shrugged our shoulders in a gesture that said, “Oh well…her rules”.

Cathi went first, and she came out with a tight lipped smile and revealed nothing to either Valerie or me as to what was said during her session. We’d agreed not to talk to each other until the end – – so we wouldn’t taint each other’s views of our sessions.

When I went in, within the expanse of about 5 minutes, I knew she was a scam artist. And a particularly BAD brand of scam artist who tries to infiltrate into the lives of the desperate and weak-minded and convince them that there is something really wrong with their lives. Something that only a ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR CRYSTAL taken from the BOTTOM OF THE NILE and blessed by the blood of 20 dancing scorpions could possibly help. She wanted to be my spiritual advisor you see because…apparently…my “Third Eye” was, for lack of a better word……..clogged. It needed to be cleared by the Crystal.

I looked at her with a steady, cold gaze and said nothing. She kept pressing me further – – trying to drive the point home and send me into a fit of despair over the dangerous, scary place my life was headed if I DIDN’T GET THIS CRYSTAL. I leaned back in my chair. She leaned back in hers. We stared at one another. My stare, I hope, said, “I am so, so onto you, Lady.” Her look said “if you’re not going to give me more money, then I have nothing else to tell you about your life, Blondie.”

I smiled stiffly and stood up, thanked her through clenched teeth for her time and went out the front door. I wanted to throw a zombie at her.

As Cathi and I sat together, waiting on Valerie, despite our vow to wait until we were all in the car to talk about our sessions, she and I immediately started spewing anger over the complete rip-off. And what was even MORE insulting was that, save for a few details here and there, Cathi and I got the EXACT SAME READING. The Crystal from the Nile, the Third Eye…all of it! I mean…how ridiculous is THAT? Did the woman think we weren’t going to talk to each other and see that, you know…MAYBE there was something fishy going on here?”

Valerie’s session was lightning fast, and according to her account of the visit, the woman told her a bunch of happy, joyful things about her life (after telling me and Cathi that we should basically lie prostrate with grief on our couches for the rest of our lives if we didn’t give her a bunch of money) and practically SHOVED her out the door in a state of urgency. We figured that she’d realized she wasn’t going to get any of us hooked onto her scheme and so she had no more use for our kind there.

As we drove home, grumbling over the nerve of that woman, we began talking about our “Third Eye” in a very comedic way. Like: “It’s getting dark and I can’t SEE very well with this clogged THIRD EYE” and the like.

But my very favorite moment was when Valerie, in a fit of angry comedy said: “Hey Lady…I got your third eye RIGHT. HERE. IN MY. PANTS.” and proceeded to point at the back of her jeans. That was the end of us – – we laughed until we cried – – completely dissolved in our juvenile, minimally funny humor. But we didn’t care….it was funny to us in that moment, as we drove home into the desert sunset, smiling and reeling over our strange but wonderful few days together.

To this day, the Third Eye lives on amongst us three sporadically in e-mails and phone calls – – the endless inside joke that keeps on giving. And for that…it was almost worth the money we gave to that psychic thief.

Almost.

cathival3rdeye

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Ok y’all. I’m stealing Amity’s idea from The Noble Savage and am succumbing to my nosiness. My blog stats show traffic increasing in number quite a bit and my curiosity is killing me to know who’s looking at my nuttiness. Every once in a while, I am shocked to find out another name of someone reading my blog who I had NO idea was….and it’s been extremely interesting, not to mention flattering.

So g’waaaann! Don’t be shy! I’m hoping that some of you lurkers on my blog will de-lurk, leave a comment, and let me know who you are, how you know me, and how you happened upon my blog…..and any other random fact you might care to share about yourself. For instance….are you afraid of clowns? Tell the group! Do you really like to listen to Bon Jovi while eating a big basket of cheesy nachos? This is the place to sing it and sing it proud.

If I know who’s reading what I say, then it helps me imagine your aghast faces during some of the particularly gnarly parts. 😉 And those of you who choose not to tell me? Well….I’ll KNOW you’re still out there….lurking around. Because I SEE the numbers, folks. I am the All Seeing Oz of my blog, after all. Muuahahahahaha!

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I had dinner Friday night before last, with several of my old college friends.  And as always, conversation turned to stories from “the good ol’ days” when we “liberated” couches from the study parlors, had to yell “hot water!!!” when flushing the toilets in the public bathroom/shower areas, and pooled all of our money together to hit McDonald’s when it was at the end of the semester and the dining hall had, thus, run out of food and were serving what we not-so-affectionately referred to as “Koogle”.  No one was really certain what was IN Koogle as it was a mysterious casserole of sorts, but there were many theories.  Mine was that they caught wild, indigenous game with traps on the back campus….raccoons, squirrels and the like…and combined that with cornflakes, tomato puree and perhaps some roofing tar to make a delectable dish.

When the inspiration to graduate and join the Real World (not the MTV variety) left a person during weaker moments while in school – – one bite of Koogle would pretty much restore that desire to GET OUT like nothing else could.

We went to a women’s college – – which brought with it it’s own special brand of boredom.  And given that all the women who hung out in my group of friends were in some form or fashion majoring in a creative or communicative field – – Art, English, Drama, Communication, etc….we were particularly gifted in creating our own entertainment.  In order to protect the reputations of these women who have since moved on to very successful careers, I will refrain from relaying some of the truly bizarrely entertaining stories that involve, among other things, paint and body parts, until I get written consent and speak to their lawyers.  Until then, I will re-tell a story that will embarrass only me since the subject is, mainly, moi.

When I was a Senior, I opted to become a Resident Assistant.  I was the RA for a dorm that contained only Sophomores (and my friend Beth, who was also a senior, and who opted to live in the room next to mine and share a bathroom with me because it was a bigger room), and it was, ultimately, a pretty low-key dorm.  I had to do a bit of “peer counseling” as we called it, from time-to-time, but for the most part,  it was an easy gig.

All the campus RA’s as a group,  had to individually team up with another RA and devise a hall program to have once a month.  When it was your month,  you and the other RA would decide what would be the subject of the program and then coordinate speakers, or games or….you know…eating large quantities of pizza while mentioning the subject at hand a couple of times, then calling it a night.  Much eye-rolling would ensue amongst the RA’s when it came to hall programs  because A. it was difficult to have the time to coordinate it all while also keeping up with your studies and B. no one came.

Well… when it rolled around to my turn,  I was teamed up with another RA from another dorm and we got it into our heads that we would do a program on “Safe Sex”.  I mean…how difficult could THAT be given we were at a frickin’ WOMEN’S college?  I can’t remember who we had come and speak, but what I do remember is that the Housing Director informed us that she could hook us up with some free condoms to pass out at the program.  She figured that we should all, as RA’s, have some on hand to give out to residents “just in case” someone actually needed one.  But this, of course, would require people to actually be having sex – – and while there were rumors that there might be some people who actually WERE – – like Bigfoot or the Werewolf, these recounts could just as easily been a campus myth, told late at night to Freshmen to frighten them.

So at the next RA meeting….Jackie, the Housing Director, told us that the condoms “were here”…and the way she said it, with a twitch to her lip like she was about to break out into spontaneous, maniacal laughter at any moment, caused all of us to look at her with a suspicious eye. 

As it turned out….the condoms had arrived in droves.  Oceans of condoms.  It looked like a Lifestyles Condoms truck had taken an order from the Nymphomaniac’s Association of America and had gotten it mixed up with our little Women’s College’s order of “20 sexual intercourses, please…”  and dumped them out at our campus.  Jackie brought in garbage sack after garbage sack FULL of condoms – – – she looked like some perverted version of Santa Claus.

All of the RA’s stared at the bags like Michael Flatly, Lord of the Dance, had just climbed out of a UFO in the middle of the room and started doing some Irish Dancing.  Naked.  And handing out condoms with wild abandon when he got to the high-kick part.

I said:  “Uh. What are we gonna do with all of those?”

Jackie said:  “Well.  I don’t know yet.  But for starters, all of you are going to take some.” 

The result of the meeting was that all of us divided up the condoms and took some back to our rooms to keep and hand out “as needed” (aka: “never”) – – I got the most, along with my hall program partner, since we were the ones doing the program on Safe Sex that month.  We were overjoyed.  Ok, “overjoyed” might be overstating a little.  

Ok, a lot. 

I think that we had, like, 7 people show up to the hall program and they were a lot more interested in the pizza than the condoms.  Finally at the culmination of the program,  I just told them to come by my room…or any of the other RAs’ rooms…and let us know if they needed any,  because the bag had lain in the middle of the study parlor completely untouched, like a garish harlot who was doing gyrations in front of a convent full of nuns.  People stared at the bag with looks of discomfort, periodically glancing at their watches to see if the hall program was cutting into an episode of The X-Files.

So I took the sad, dejected sack of condoms back to my room, where it lay by the door like a slug for weeks on end, living a life of utter prophylactic boredom.  I mean, let’s face it – – condoms have places to go and people to…..never mind. 

My discrete notice by my door indicating to “see me” if anyone needed any did nothing to reduce the number that remained in my care.  I finally just erased the note from my dry-erase board – – it was a waste of perfectly good marker.  And what was worse, was that one day, after there was a knock on my door…I went to answer it and was faced with two MORE sacks of condoms lying in front of me like black, plastic Toadstools of Doom.   I heard the outside door slam and the echoes of giggling in the stairwell as two wayward RA’s made a clean get-away from dumping off their supply on me as a joke.  The fact that it was a GOOD joke is beside the point – – because now I had MORE freaking condoms to deal with.  I tried to give them BACK the condoms in a variety of sneaky ways…to no avail – – they kept coming back like a bad habit.  So I was stuck…

…Until one fateful day,  I finally figured out what I could do with the condoms. 

The college where I attended was ripe with tradition.  And one of these traditions was called “Senior Skit Night”.  People broke into groups and all performed ridiculous skits for the rest of the underclasswomen.  These were not moments of thespian genius, trust me.  But were, instead, more efforts to defeat the ongoing boredom that saturates a women’s college. 

As with most things that pertain to the traditional requirements of our college,  my group of friends and I had waited until the last minute to stir from our lethargy.  We congregated together in my friend Beth’s room, synapses firing and missing in our collective mind repeatedly, while we threw out options.  At some point, someone finally brought up the idea of “Superheroes” – – and we all began making noises of enthusiasm for this idea.  We could all be a various, strange mix of Superheroes….and immediatley began determining which superhero we would each be.  Beth would be Wonder Woman….Elizabeth would be Captain Apathy (her only line in the whole skit was to repeatedly say “Mehhh…whatever.  I don’t care.”),  Mandy would be “Captain Klutzoid” because she fell down pretty much every day for inexplicable reasons.  And it was at that point that a light bulb went off in my head.  I could barely contain my excitement over the idea.

I was going to be “Condom Girl”.  Promoting safe sex in a single bound.  Lots and LOTS of safe sex.

My costume consisted of a leotard and tights, a huge “C” on my chest, a cape made out of Beth’s red pillow case, and condoms taped over my entire body.  During one of my Mensa Moments,  I took one of the condoms out of the wrapper and tried to stretch it on my head to wear as a hat.   Do not try to do this…..well…pretty much ever.   I cannot overstate this enough.  I looked like the head of a deformed earthworm who was about to rob a convenience store….and with the lubrication, it kept sliding up over my hair with such force that the condom became a slingshot device,  hitting people and walls at lighting speed within my immediate vicinity.  Therefore, sadly…. a condom hat was not to be.

The night finally arrived.  I carried the bags of condoms with me as this lethargic group of Superhero rejects made our way across the grass to the stairs of the Loggia where we were going to have the skits.  When our turn arrived, we performed flawlessly – – receiving much laughter and applause.  And still, I kept the condoms close by my side — these condoms that had been my constant companion for so many months now.  We were about to part ways.

I do not remember anything about what was said in the skit except the last line – – which was spoken by me.  I said: “And you know what THAT means, Captain Apathy?  CONDOMS FOR EVERYONE!!!” And I heaved all 3 bags of condoms down the steps, over hundreds of heads, like Mardi Gras gone wrong.  There was screaming and mass confusion….people suddenly really INTERESTED in getting a condom…all scrambling to pick them up where they landed.  Down shirts…on heads…on concrete. 

And for the weeks following, every so often, you would catch a glimpse of a silver wrapper lying on the ground….or on the porch of one of the academic halls…like confetti for adults.  I smiled with pride every time I saw one – – so proud of my ingenuity and so thankful for my condom-free dorm room now.  They did eventually track them all down and pick them up, and no one knew it was me who had done it,  and no one ratted me out since the school’s administration is never present for Senior Skit Night.  Though I think that Jackie suspected it was me because she knew I had been the disgruntled Keeper of the Condoms. But she said nothing to me – – knowing that in some way, I’d been pushed to my latex breaking-point.

Unfortunately, there were a total of 3 stray condoms that found their way underneath my little dorm refrigerator – having somehow gotten loose from the bags when they stayed in my room all those months.  And more unfortunately,  I did not see them until the refrigerator was lifted up for removal when I was moving out of my dorm room on graduation day with my family.  And most unfortunately…

They were found by my very old, very cantakerous,  Great Aunt Novyce.

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I went to my friend Cathi’s last night to help her decorate her Christmas tree. Her boyfriend was out of town, and she had a bare tree in desperate need of some sparkle and pizazz and we were just the ones to do it. Considering my “Christmas Tree” was actually a pint sized rosemary tree clad in a band of gold stars….and that’s about it…I was looking forward to decorating a tree this year, even if it’s not mine!

Anyone who knows Cathi knows that she has a child cat named Rad whom she rains adoration and attention on like he is the Anointed Prince of all Felines. He used to be small enough to fit inside of her two cupped hands, and we all got photos of him e-mailed to us as a kitten curled up in sinks and other nooks, displaying his cuteness in full glory. You would get photos of Rad and an involuntary “Awwww” would escape from your mouth before you could stop yourself.

Rad is now 2 years old, a beautiful kitty…..and he is also similar in size to a moose and similar in coat to a woolly mammoth. The exclamation one has upon seeing him now is something akin to “Sweet MOTHER of Bobby-Jo – – that cat is HUGE.” In short, he looks like an area rug with paws.

Exhibit A:

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I told you, didn’t I?

Well last night, Cathi was pulling down all the boxes of decorations from the attic and handing the boxes to me below her in the hallway, when I heard her exclaim “Ooooo! It’s Rad’s Santa suit!!!!”. I bit my lip, looked up and said “That cat has a Santa suit?” She said “Yes, it’s the same suit he wore last year for the picture I put on his stocking…”

***crickets chirping***

Despite not understanding the rituals of “cat people”, I still had to admit that I was dying to see how that gi-gant-a-thon cat could be put into a santa suit – – and…you know. I had my camera. Therefore this was simply a photo op that NEEDED to happen…..so I encouraged the event, against my better judgement. If the Christmas Humor Elves were raining blessings upon me….who was I to argue with them?

So after we decorated the tree to the nines – – and decked it out in sparkling lights and be-jeweled ornaments, Cathi pulled out the Santa suit and beckoned Rad over for his fitting. The amazing thing about this cat is how docile he is – – he lay there like a slug – – completely resigned to his fate, somewhere in his distant memory he remembered last year’s humiliation and understood it was best to cooperate fully, and then just pretend it never happened. It was over much quicker this way. (and for the record, he was only left in the santa suit for about 5 minutes…before anyone yells at us for being mean to the cat! 😉 )

Once Cathi had him fully dressed, and hat planted firmly in place….she gathered up all his tufts of gray fur into a bundle and held him up for the photo-op.

The result was this:

cathikittysanta

Now…..take a real, close look at that cat’s face. Because he’s plotting our deaths right there. There is a very clear, meticulous plan being hatched underneath that jaunty red cap….“First, I’m going to take down the blond human holding the metal box that flashes, and she’s not even going to know what hit her – she’s going down….then the brown hair human, her death will be slower…I’m going to take my time with her…because she made me do this TWICE”

Let’s take a closer look at that face again…for good measure…

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Seriously….it’s all fun and games until that cat learns how to use a gun.

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