Category Archives: humor

Pizza Hut or Bust(ed face)

“Real Love is a Sphere,” Jedd Evan texts to me, haiku-style, today.  “The center is everywhere/Circumference, nowhere.”   I’m inclined to agree with him. This is a man who fashioned a bed out of three stacked air mattresses duct-taped to one another and thinks a viable meal is warm Ragu straight out of the saucepot, consumed while huddled over the stove armed with a plastic ladle.  While some girls would insist on a bed frame and some actual dishes, I find him rife with illimitable charm.

We had been planning a trip to the Pizza Hut buffet for several weeks, and we had finally agreed on a date and time.  We were to get up at 9am on Tuesday and run our bank, post office, grocery and hardware store errands in backwards order all the way down Franklin Street. This would put us at Pizza Hut at 1pm, giving us one precious hour to turboload at the Buffet.  Of course, we didn’t actually wake up until 12:45, so we just piled into the car in our pajamas and sped off.   It was raining so hard I couldn’t see ten feet past the windshield.   After a few blocks, I realized I had left my instant coffee on the roof, so in my sleepy rainy brain haze, I slammed on the brakes in the middle of the street and Jedd jumped out to retrieve it.  In his haste to get back into his seat, he opened the door into his face, and a 2-inch gash immediately formed above his right eye.

He produced an old, dusty roll of paper towels from the back seat and used some to stop the bleeding while I drove erratically, hyperventilating with terror and concern.  He clearly needed stitches.  My panic almost propelled me into a tree and several other cars in the vicious storm.

“We HAVE to go home you are BLEEDING,” I gasped.

“NO!! TO PIZZA HUBUFFAY,” he slurred, pressing on the paper towel that was quickly becoming saturated with his blood and what I imagined to be bits of his brilliant brain matter.

“NO.  WE ARE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL!”

“NOOOO I AM FINE I’M APPLYING PRESSURE!”

“FINE THEN!  SCREW PIZZA HUT, WE ARE GOING to BUY SOME THINGS TO CLEAN YOU,” I said, heading to the store next to the Pizza Hut, and though I tried to slip past it, hoping the rain would shield it from my now-half-blind patient, he saw it anyway.

“THAT IS TH’ PIZZAHUBUFFAY GO THERE IT IS 1:17,” he yelled, demonstrating his unflagging devotion to soggy breadsticks and cheese from a ten gallon bucket.

“NO we are going to the FIRST AID AISLE of the ROSE’S,” yet while I was admonishing him for his inability to prioritize, I was simultaneously turning into the Pizza Hut parking lot because I really just want him to have what he wants at all times.

Before I even removed the key from the ignition, he had exited the vehicle and bounded up to the door of the Pizza Hut, already soaking wet and holding this ridiculous paper towel to his head to keep his brains in.  I thought I was going to cry.  I followed him into the restaurant only to face a cold, empty, decidedly pizza-free stainless steel buffet.

“Where, we. . .um. . .we need the Lunch Buffet?” He said, on the verge of tears.

“Oh we don’t do no buffet no more,” some giant, beleaguered woman nonchalantly offered over her shoulder as she lumbered over to the lone table of patrons in the corner of the grimy dining room.  With my two working eyes, I glared at my retreating archnemesis, and her enormous tent of a uniform shirt whose color exactly matched the burnt orange countertops. With his one working eye, Jedd Evan blinked at the space where the buffet would have been.

I ushered him back to the car and we headed to the Rose’s, which is sort of a poor-man’s discount K-Mart, if the K-Mart was built in a shanty, super-trashy, in a perpetual state of final clearance, staffed with a combination of dubiously-behaving socially-retarded teenagers and middle-aged, divorced, obese women with teased hair, and sold plus-size underwears out of a giant bin for one dollar, tax included.  I love Rose’s and I constantly find excuses to go there, and what’s more, there was a Chic-Fil-A next to it.  Score.

I deposited Jedd Evan in the first aid aisle and went off to the clothing section in search of a hoodie.  I located a gray one for six dollars and headed back to retrieve my patient.  I found him calmly surveying the shampoo situation while he folded his bloody paper towel into eighths and sixteenths and thirtyseconds.  He was manning a basket full of canned soup, Band-Aids, Peroxide, A-1 Sauce, tiny superglue, more canned soup, a pack of t-shirts, an air freshener shaped like a tree, a stack of metal forks, and a small area rug.  This was not supposed to be a shopping trip.  This was supposed to be a hospital proxy.

When we approached the check-out, the cashier immediately identified a problem with Jedd Evan’s face and offered the Rose’s fitting rooms as a substitute triage.  He selected his tools from the pile.  Band-Aids, check.  Peroxide, check.  Superglue, check.  Wait.  WHAT?  But he was already gone.  I really took issue with the inclusion of Superglue in his surgical repertoire, but I was silent as I watched him head for the fitting rooms.

But he did not go to the fitting rooms.  No.  Instead, he plopped down in the middle of the Homewares section and used Rose’s collection of $5 full-length plastic-framed mirrors as a suitable place to fix himself.  Almost immediately, the intercom crackled with a plea for security to tend to “Section E, Area 4, Code Blue,” which I could only interpret as the code for, “A Wet, Bleeding Man is Currently Repairing his Gaping Head Wound with Our Discount Adhesives in Bedroom Décor.”

With a resigned sigh I settled into an armchair, its “Final Sale” tag digging into my forearm, and waited.  He emerged, smiling and bandaged, and we still managed to have a nice lunch at the Chik-Fil-A. It’s amazing how good waffle fries taste after a brush with death.

Though I really did not want his wound to become infected and cause him more, very expensive trouble, I knew it was the only way my panic and alarm would be justified.  But I, too, am wrong every once in a great while.  In under 24 hours, his head looked perfectly fine, the gash reduced to a scab under an inch long.  Apparently Superglue is okay to use in lieu of actual medical attention, and he knew it.  Real love is a sphere, he said, and he’s right.  My instinct to protect him did not allow me to trust his guerilla medicine.  I should just focus on finding other ways to show I care, so I suppose my next move is to track down a Pizza Hut with an actual buffet.

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Taxi Driver.

I am terrified of public transportation.  With three trembling fingers left over, I can count the amount of times I’ve ridden in a taxicab.  It seems as though, in the name of convenience and adulthood, I should be able to overcome my fear of chaufferism, but when I actually think about my past experiences, it doesn’t seem too strange to me that I’ve ousted it as an option.

 

Cab Ride #1:  I overslept one morning in my Freshman year of high school.  My mom took this as an opportunity to teach me a lesson about responsibility, so instead of driving me to school, she made me call a cab and pay for it myself.  I’ll spare you the details about my stuttering and inability to remember my address while I was on the phone with said cab company.  When the taxi arrived, I stumbled outside, close to tears.  I had a giant guitar with me since my music teacher wanted us to bring random instruments to fill up the space created by her failure to concoct a lesson plan, so I’m sure the cab driver was amused at the juggling act I performed all the way down the sidewalk.  I approached the front passenger door and wriggled my guitar, bookbag, purse, armload of texts, and loose papers full of shitty poems about dragons and medieval wars (a “book” I was “writing”) into the seat.  The cab driver snorted a little and asked me if I wanted to put my shit in the back.  But I did not trust this man, so I told him no.  It wasn’t until halfway down my street that I remembered a movie I saw where a whore flagged a cab and put her spangled, spandexed butt in the front seat.  The driver said, “You know what it means to be in the front seat, honey.”  And she proceeded to give him a blowjob while he drove through the rainy meat-packing district.  I spent the remainder of the ride with my face plastered against the window, my plaid skirt bunched up in my fists and dragged down to cover my knees while the cab driver attempted to hurl pleasantries at me.  Every word out of his mouth, I construed as a proposition.  I still feel bad about this.

 

Cab Ride #2:  Fast-forward twelve years.  My parents were living in New York, and at the end of one my visits, they accompanied me to the airport via taxi.  It was 4am and we hailed a cab and (thank god) piled into the backseat.  The driver was a very foreign man, and, peering at us in the rearview, said, “VAIR?”  We said, “JFK, please.”  And he looked at us again and said, “VishTirg Nu Plmbbrklq.”  Assuming he was asking us to repeat our destination, we responded in over-enunciated tandem and at a higher decibal, “J. F. K. AIR. PORT.”

 

What happened next has haunted me for years.  The man looked close to tears as he screamed at us, “YOO STOOPEED FUCKS!  I TRYING TO BE NICE MAN, ASK YOU HOW IS YOUR MORNEENK AND YOU YELL.  NO HALLO, NO GOOT MORNINK.  NO RESPECT, FUCK!”

 

My dad immediately responded to the man as though I was eight again, and he was protecting me, which I loved.  “STOP THE CAB, SIR, WE WILL NOT BE NEEDING YOUR SERVICES,” he said in the whitest way imaginable.  We exited the cab like a load of sleepy clowns, and the man sped off without asking for payment or even waiting for us to close the door.

 

The reason it haunts me is I keep getting flashes of the cab driver readying himself in the darkness of 2am, thinking of his family back at home far away and all the dollars he’s going to send them, combing his hair and straightening his collar, and practicing English in the mirror.  “How do you do?” he asks his reflection.  “Goot mornink,” with a little head bow.  And then he gets to work, and the first white family he picks up responds to his salutations by yelling the name of an airport at him.

 

While I realize that this is simultaneously an unbelievably compassionate and fantastically racist way for me to imagine the situation, I still cannot seem to shake this image, and I’m pretty sure I’ll feel bad about it forever.

 

Anyway, I feel like I can, in fact, go through the rest of my life without riding in a taxicab again.  Maybe someday I’ll tell you the story behind the reason I will never subject my future child to schoolbus rides.  It’s a really harrowing account, and it involves genitalia and substitute drivers.  I bet you can’t wait.

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Party Girl.

I choose to fancy myself a successful mingler, much like I choose to remember that I’m terrific at bicycle riding.  Since I rarely perform either of those simple tasks, it is not difficult for me to convince myself I am good at them.

 

The last time I hoisted myself onto a bicycle, it was my old roommate’s, and I quickly realized with horror that the last bike I owned only had two speeds:  However Fast I Can Pedal and Stopped.  And to stop this bike from 1986, I only had stop moving and the training wheels did all the work.  But there were levers and cranks and buttons and baubles on this modern, more threatening bicycle, and since I possessed knowledge of none of their functions, I ate asphalt in under 90 seconds.

 

Something very similar happened to me at the party I just attended.

 

I’m going to share a phenomenon I have experienced since buying the bar.  I rarely get invited to parties, and it’s because everyone hilariously assumes I’m already going to other parties.  Every Monday, customers ask me “how the parties were this weekend,” and they look alarmed when I say that I spent my weekend watching reality TV and trying to find the source of the eight fruit flies in my bathroom.  Why are they there?  There’s no food in there.  I don’t keep food in there.

 

I live on the end of a very short, largely unoccupied, dead end street, and three days ago I realized that four of my bar regulars have lived two doors down from me for five months.  How did we never notice that?  This is an adorable group of young friends whose presence I always appreciate at the bar.  They are intelligent and talented and respectful.   So when they announced on Facebook that they were having a party, and I was invited, because everyone on Facebook is invited, I started a countdown to my evening of social finesse. On the night of the party, after overcoming a minor sartorial crisis, Jedd Evan and I stuffed our coat pockets with leftover beers and headed over.

 

Minutes later I found myself standing in a room full of Zog’s regulars, and MY turf was nowhere to be found.  Standing in my own bar imparts me with a certain confidence I’m always sure will translate into real life should my participation be required in a social capacity other than hostess, but it never does.

 

I’m very good at the bar.  I’m quick and funny and I use poly-syllabic words and I treat my friends to good stories and charm dollars easily out of people I don’t know.  I can tell jokes and recount tales and issue advice and do creative things.  But when I’m not on my own turf I forget how to be a functional person.

 

I parked myself across from the fridge and started talking to two guys I knew and two guys I didn’t know.  Almost immediately, someone opened said fridge and I watched as a full gallon of milk freed itself in slow motion from the top shelf, burst open on the linoleum and spilled onto my flipflopped feet.  I made a couple of jokes about crying over it and silently congratulated myself amid their polite laughter.  Suddenly, the following sentence exited my mouth and I was forced to watch its painful trajectory as it barfed itself into the conversation:  “Hey three of you guys have glasses and guess what my old roommate just moved out and he left three giant bottles of contact solution do any of you guys ever use contacts do you guys want them because I can just go run home and get them.”  And then suddenly, propelled by my good intentions, I was sprinting the fifty yards back home in my milkfeet, wondering WHY THE HELL I just opted to distribute bottles of contact solution like party favors at an ophthalmology mixer, apropos of nothing.

 

I returned with the contact solution, distributed it to the bespectacled unwilling, and gave Jedd Evan the pre-opened, rejected one, which he employed as a conversational tool by using it to replace random objects around the room.  As in, he’d slyly leave the contact solution in place of the hot sauce in front of ten people chewing things that needed hot sauce.  Everyone laughed because he is funny, and good at parties.

 

Some guy came up and told me he liked all my earrings, so I immediately slapped my ear a few times in response.  Why did I do that? Then I talked a mile a minute about how you touch your own hair when someone notices you got a haircut, and I hit myself in the head a half dozen more times to illustrate my point.  No one said anything.  Or laughed.  But a few kids did rescue me by launching into a full Q&A about Zog’s, in which I took part for close to twenty minutes.  It was painful, and not because of them.  They were delightful.

 

It was me.

 

They asked legitimate questions, such as, “How does someone in their early 20s buy their own bar,” (I’m 30), “Do you feel bad kicking out drunk people,” (no), “Do you ever have to cut off your friends,” (I almost exclusively have to cut off my friends), and, “What does that ___________ tattoo mean?”  About halfway through this exchange, I realized I was being potty-mouthed and very boring and I could sort of see it on their poor faces. They had the look I get when I want to end a conversation I’m having with a social pariah but I don’t know how.  I felt so awful for them.

 

Abruptly, I released them from my small-talk grip by simply shrugging and saying, “Whatever,” thereby relinquishing my monopoly on the conversation, and instead of asking them questions about themselves, which is what you DO at a party, I just sort of shut up and stood there until they floated away.  I tried to interject witty remarks into other people’s conversations.  Here are some examples of things I ACTUALLY SAID:

 

“Oh, Elvis is still alive?  Wait.  Costello?”

 

“Yes, yes, I got all the milk out of my shoe.”

 

“My parents got divorced and that’s how come there’s a treadmill in my living room.”

 

After a while I just stopped saying anything.  What was heartbreaking was that no one was being even slightly rude to me.  All the dumb shit I was saying and all the awkwardness I introduced to the room—it all came from me.

 

But the sore, palpitating crux of shame came when, after being silent for a while while Jedd Evan performed beautifully with the group he was regaling on the other side of the party, I decided to step up to the girl Audrey and take her shoulder and lean in and whisper to her.  I said, “Audrey.  I don’t mean to be a downer but I never get invited to parties and I’m really nervous and I really don’t know how to talk to people.”  I don’t know why I did it.  I guess because I just needed to say it to someone but it’s really not the sort of thing you tell a virtual stranger at a neighborhood cookout.  It was time to go.

 

I went out on the porch with Jedd Evan and slumped in a chair next to a wool-vested, headless plastic human skeleton, a remnant of a Halloween party I hadn’t been invited to, and I clutched my tepid bottle of Fat Tire and stared into the street and tried to tell Jedd Evan funny stories while I thought about all the nice, welcoming people inside the house and how I’ve not had enough practice at parties and even though (or especially because) I’m almost a decade older than most of them, I’ll probably not get any better at this point, even with practice.

 

I’m probably just being paranoid.  But, see, the problem is that I’m thinking about it at all.  As Jedd Evan and I trudged home, we passed Rich’s house, and Rich is a bicycle mechanic in Carrboro.  I waved to him and then glanced over at my old roommate’s forgotten bike under my carport.  Maybe I’ll bring it in to Rich for a tune-up tomorrow and see if I can’t get the hang of it again.

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Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Sew.

Dear Jedd Evan,

You know I’ve never claimed to have a firm grasp of domesticity.  I own an iron but it’s only used to seal shit that I screenprint.  I am mentally incapable of stocking up on toilet paper so every couple weeks I have a panic-stricken three minutes where I almost pee myself scrambling around in search of any forgotten stack of Christmas-themed dinner disposables or piles of Wendy’s napkins.  Every time I pay a utility bill, it comes laden with a reconnect fee.  And there’s that famous oven-hole in my kitchen, and we all know that holes in the wall don’t bake shit, but at least I have somewhere to store my hundreds of dollars worth of unopened Tupperware Party trappings.

However.

I am very good at laundry.

I love doing laundry.  I love doing my laundry, I love doing other people’s laundry.  I love folding people’s clothes, I love how washing machines are basically magic.  When my dryer broke, I spiraled into a fit of debilitating depression at the thought of having to spend Laundry Time at a laundromat.  I somehow passively finagled my parents’ dryer away from them when they were divvying things up after their separation, and this is very telling because if I had been presented with some other appliance, say, their crockpot or their can opener to store in my house as a constant reminder of the demise of the only relationship I held sacred in my life, I would have rejected it with a fervor.  But a dryer?  There was no question it would be mine.

Since my epic firing from my stupid burrito shop job has left me with only a part-time position at the local ArtsCenter and my very own bar that belongs to me and only needs to be tended to at night, I have plenty of time during the day to play Boz Scaggs as loud as possible while I parade around in my underthings with a fifth of whiskey and several craft projects in progress.  I don’t usually get drunk during the day but as an adult, I’m allowed to say, “Fuck it,” and do what I want, which, last Thursday, was to get smashed and clean the five sets of filthy clothes I’d been collecting on my bedroom floor.

So imagine the thrill I got when I went to go put in the first load and I found the washing machine full of someone else’s shirts and socks.  There was a whole wardrobe in there for me to clean and dry and fold!  On closer inspection it was revealed that you were the one who had unintentionally abandoned your duds and unwittingly left them for me to handle.  This made more sense than if they had been Idaho Billy’s clothes, because Idaho Billy takes all his things to the dry cleaners, which is a mysterious and grown-up place, the inner workings of which I can’t quite fathom.

I got to work immediately, putting your clothes in the dryer, trying to decide what things I was going to fold first when they were done.  “Should I start with socks?  Or work from the biggest to smallest and tackle the hoodies and pants first,” I asked myself in my growing whiskey haze.  My plan was interrupted when I grabbed your favorite slacks, the ones with a rip that starts at the crotch and ends somewhere six inches down so that your naughty bits are constantly threatening to free themselves with every step you take.  I know by now you have no intention of repairing the pants, though you constantly want to discuss the fact that they are unraveling at an alarming rate.  Even though I know you wouldn’t give a flying fuck if the pants propelled you into the realm of indecency in the middle of the grocery store, Jack Daniels insisted that I could save the day by sewing the peep-hole shut.

I ran, RAN into the craft area and started wildly digging through my sewing drawers, holding all different shades of navy embroidery floss up to the ruin to find an appropriate color match.  I pricked myself with four different needles in my haste to find the right one.  I located my teensy, tiny thread scissors and my red plastic thimble.  I found my needle threader, which was quite a feat.  The fervor with which I was tackling this project shot some sort of adrenaline rush into my brain, where it mingled with the alcohol and together, they convinced me that this was the best idea EVER.  I was so ready.  There was only one problem.

I can’t sew worth a SHIT.

Doesn’t matter!  I brought all my treasures onto the front porch and the stray neighbor cat jumped into my lap and started playing with my thread.  Matt was across the street letting his dogs out and plodded over to the porch when he saw me.  Wonderful!  Now I had something ELSE to distract me from the delicate surgical procedure I was about to inflict upon your poor clothes.

Once Matt and I started talking and the cat started rolling around on the pants in my lap, I started sewing with abandon.  I felt good about it.  I felt so confident I even stopped watching what I was doing.  I was creating intricate patterns with the navy floss.  I was pioneering new sewing techniques, namely the one where you sew like a deranged spider weaving a web while on some serious hallucinogenics.  “Whatever!,” I told myself.  “it does not need to be beautiful!  It only has to hold Jedd’s weenis in his pants!”

After about twenty-three minutes I looked down and realized I had been connecting two flaps of fabric that were definitely already connected with a sturdy machine-made overlock in a brilliant angry orange. Okay, so I reinforced it I guess.  I pretended not to panic as I righted myself and started from a different angle.  I swigged some more whiskey and furiously attacked the pants with the jankiest, most retarded-looking whipstitch I could muster.  I sewed the rest of the rip this way, then doubled back on it “just to be sure.”  The result, when I turned the pants right-side-in, was a half-closed hole with a gaping area that would have lined up perfectly with exactly what it should not have once the pants were being worn.  I tried again.

It was during this third attempt that I was struck with a very distinct sinking realization that I had not ever bothered to ask you if you could sew.  Perhaps you preferred your pants this way.  Maybe they lent easier access at times when you only had four seconds to pee.  It was possible that you like your clothes a little beat up.  It was also possible that you are a brilliant seamster, a secret tailor, even, and that my plebeian foray into the world of crotch mending was, while well-intentioned, decidedly ill-advised.  I pushed these thoughts out of my head with another shot of whiskey, finished the job, and surveyed the damage.  The pants actually looked worse than when I started.  I folded them carefully, and discreetly hid them under the detritus of your half-unpacked bedroom.

It has been almost a week and they are still there; I check on them once or twice a day.  I can only hope that when you finally discover them, you will not notice the lack of refreshing breeze traveling past your nether regions, and if you do, please realize that everything I do in the name of domesticity, I do it with a full heart and good intentions, and if there’s a problem, I’ll be waiting in the next room, seam ripper in hand, at the beck-and-call of the pants I accidentally destroyed.

Best,

Mandolina.

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Bageltopia.

Dear Jo-hay-hay,

Right now I’m the sole customer at Bageltopia, where my new roommate, Jedd Evan, works.  It’s grimy in here and the lighting is wanly inconsistent and none of the accessories or furniture or trimmings match, and the acoustic tiles on the ceiling are riddled with patches of water stains and mild rot.  The walls are painted the color of what white walls look like in a room that allows smoking.  There is an unplugged, antediluvian ATM in the corner where I am sitting, and on the wall to my right is a cheaply framed, warpy print of a cartoon chef somberly whisking ingredients in a bowl, the French moonlight glinting off the left curl of his ridiculously long handlebar moustache.  The layout is questionable; the wall bisecting the restaurant flagrantly disrespects all tenets of Feng Shui, and my centrally located booth manages to only afford me a perfect view of the condiment area and trash can.  The tablecloths are real fabric and look as though they were plucked from a very dead grandmothers’ estate sale reject pile.  I love the tablecloths. I absolutely love it here, in general.  I don’t know why.  Well.  Maybe I do.

Jedd Evan is pacing back and forth behind the counter keeping busier than anyone ever employed by Bageltopia in its 13 years of existence, I’d be willing to bet.  Chopin is blaring, but it’s fine because even if you blare classical music, it’s still peaceful.  Jedd Evan’s coworker, a tall, slouchy, slack-jawed Post Office Kid in his mid-20s, is expounding on the particularly good parts of the funeral march, and if I was still the sort of person to judge others’ intelligence by the way they dress, I’d be surprised.  One of them is whistling every note of the Chopin arrangement perfectly.  I’m not sure which of them it is, and I decide not to look up and find out.

The Post Office Kid comes and sits by me and we talk about several different things such as mutual acquaintances, lucid nightmares, his broken windshield wipers, Mexican potlucks, billiards, Band of Horses, and the unsecured wireless network of the Karate school next door.  He tells me he is a perfectionist and I believe him mainly because the word looks so ludicrous coming out of his mouth.  I like him.  He’s smart.

I’m trying my best to ignore the fact that when my roommate’s at work, he wears his hat backwards and I guess the combination of the humidity from the rainstorm in the parking lot and the heat from the bagel ovens in the kitchen makes his hair flip up on the sides, because it doesn’t really do that, normally.  I’m listening to two high school girls act their ages diagonally from where I’m sitting and it’s driving me almost insane.  They’re theater-types and they’re speaking so fast and with such deliberate, impeccable enunciation that it sounds like a different language entirely.  They’re dressed ridiculously and I want to judge them really badly until I remember:

1.   I’m fucking 30, and

2.   At their age, I thought combat boots were best worn over jeans and the only t-shirt you could possibly pair with yellow fishnets, mismatched argyle socks, a gold taffeta skirt, and black lipstick was the “Satanic Army” Marilyn Manson one, or, if that one was dirty, the “got weed?” one, or, barring that, a simple black bandeau top that made me look like the absolute slut that I certainly wasn’t, and

3.   They’re 15 and adorably having a great time doing exactly what they should be doing in High School, which is embarking on a bunch of superly important adventures which, in time, will reveal themselves to be worthless, useless, really fun memories.

I just realized my Bageltopia table is about a half a block from East Chapel Hill High School, which would explain the clientele thus far.  I’ve only seen one customer over the age of 15, and Jedd Evan is alarmingly patient with all of them.  He’s not completely moved all his things in yet, his toothbrush and alarm clock and laptop charger or favorite coffee cup, and I’ll tell you what a shitty roommate I already am: I set my alarm clock for 6am so Bageltopia would open on time, and when it went off, instead of trying to wake him up, I disemboweled the entire alarm clock and went back to sleep.  When I woke up staggering around the kitchen for water and a hairbrush (which I needed), he was somehow gone and my alarm clock was in angry little pieces.  It still is.

The perky theater girls are discussing their past repertoire of roles in various “important” stage productions.  I immediately remember why their infuriating voices sound so familiar.

They sound exactly like the Chip ‘n’ Dale cartoons.

It’s not like I’m sitting here, creepily watching Jedd Evan and the Post Office Kid do their jobs, but, I mean, I sort of am.  I like that at Bageltopia I can put my feet up on the vinyl booths.  I like that the owner looks like he’s totally over it, but he still tucks in his shirt.  I like that I can watch Jedd Evan make a pot of coffee and, while he waits for the drip to subside, he’s suddenly behind me reattaching a chair seat to its frame because at Bageltopia, he’s a man of many, many backwards baseball hats.

Love,

Mandey

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Brownie.

It is entirely possible that I have just eaten a hash brownie unwittingly.  In my epic attempt be the most non-grocery-shoppingest adult on the planet, I have given birth to and raised the most successful and healthily understocked pantry at least on my street and in, quite possibly, America.  An inventory of my food cabinet just revealed that I am the proud owner of four different types of steak seasoning, a bottle of Mexican vanilla flavoring, a half-gone box of spaghetti noodles, and an open bag of marshmallows of questionable age.

Fact is, I live like a 22-year-old boy in that my house is a gallimaufry of tiny living room adventures and abandoned art projects, of coffee-stained sheet music and babydoll heads, of too many books and not enough bookshelves, of dirty dishes and dirtier towels and tennis shoes that match no articles of clothing in my possession.  I like my house the way it is, but no one, not even my delightfully slobby roommate, agrees with my current lifestyle.  I can’t stop accumulating things.  They’re all important things.  I have no need for most of them now, but I know that as soon as I throw them out, I will commence a project which will require these precious objects, these twisted coat hangers and paint-crusted brushes, these cinderblock chunks and bits of fabric refuse.

But instead of making my life and my house look like I am worth a shit, I decided to teach myself how to play Mr. Bassman on piano.  In the midst of all the unwashed plates and the unrecycled beer bottles and the detritus of bachelorhood, I managed to ignore all my responsibilities in order to revisit my childhood (which I apparently spent entirely at Showbiz Pizza ) and teach myself to play a Rock-afire Explosion song.  For you, and you only, I have made a video of my 25-YEAR-OLD record playing Mr. Bassman.  I wish I could say that I had to abandon my blog-writing and dig the record out of a box labeled “Amanda, Dorky things, 1985,” but I cannot, because, at age 30, Mr. Bassman is perpetually set up in my little Telex record player, ready to go at anytime.  I listen to it almost every day and I dance around the living room.  For serious, though, it skips twice in the video, and this is because the record is the actual one given to me by my parents at age 5 since the first time I heard the Rock-afire Explosion live and in animatronic person I almost lost my mind and I wouldn’t shut the fuck up about Fatz the keyboardplaying gorilla until I could have him at my fingertips at all times.

Isn’t it magnificent??

 

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New Kids on the Block Put Me Under the Knife.

I am 30, and tomorrow I will go to a roller-rink birthday party for a guy my same age.  This is exciting to me.  We are all adults, and roller-rinks are more fun for us now.  When I was a kid, Skate Country was the greatest place on earth.  Skate Country had everything.  The 40-something self-loather dressed in a referee costume, the giant fuzzy dice, the strobe lights and the disco ball and the arcade with Whack-a-Mole that would spit out tickets you could redeem for those little rubber finger monsters or Pixie-Stix or Fun-Dip.  The laser pointers and the Barbie knockoffs cost more tickets than were feasibly earnable, but we didn’t care.  We had those things already.

I fancied myself the fastest skater in all the land.  I’m pretty sure I was.  But I had to exit the rink floor when they played the Couples’ Skate song.  I say “song” as though there was only one, because there was.

 

Timmy T‘s

“One More Try,” was the intensely negative force in my life that kept reminding me that, at the world-weary age of 9, I would never have a boyfriend and I would probably die  alone.  “One more try,” he would sing, and I’d think, “I never even got ONE try.”  “I didn’t know how much I loved you,” Timmy would croon, and my pursed lips spewed angry, lonely hellfire words, “YOU NEVER LET ME SHOW YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE.”  I wanted to be the most important thing in someone’s life, and Timmy T and his stupid Couples’ Skate song kept reminding me that I wasn’t.

So I set my sights higher than the 4th grade boys who played football badly and made fun of me for my ability to win spelling bees.  I decided my one true love was no other than Joey McIntyre, my very favorite New Kid on the Block.

I had the orange plastic lunchbox.  I had the puffy-paint tee-shirt.  I had the neon-green plastic earrings.  I had the bedsheets and the pillowcases and the Teen Beats and the board game.  My dad taped all their TV appearances for me on Betamax, and I watched them until they wouldn’t play anymore.  I had conversations with Joey during which I would spill secrets I didn’t even tell Jesus.  I had (and still have) all their cassette tapes.  Posters.  Trading cards.  Lunchables with their five faces on them.  Katie Smith and I would run home after school every day and practice the “The Right Stuff” dance where you hook your thumbs into the elastic in your Jams and kick your skinny legs out from side to side (see minute-marker 1:19 in below video).  We perfected the parts in “Hangin’ Tough” that sounded eerily like the Wicked Witch’s Palace Guards’ chant from the Wizard of Oz, and watched the part in the video where they air-guitar with baseball bats about a thousand times.

And then, in 1990, my aunt appeared like a dream at my house with three tickets to the goddamn New Kids on the Block concert.  She was going to take my cousin and me, and we would go to it and then we would be complete humans, not the sub-par, barely-carbon-based, non-NKOTB-witnessing idiots we were before the concert.

When we got there, all decked out in our boy-band paraphernalia, I thought I might lose my mind.  I am pretty sure I peed in my hot-pink overalls.  My side ponytail was hiked up high enough to make me look like a bona-fide cheerleader.  I looked good, and I wanted to make sure Joey saw me.  This was my only chance.

My aunt presented us with NKOTB cassettes that we did not own yet, which was enough to send me over the edge and bring on spastic fits of excitement that had to be distilled in no way other than screaming Joey’s name at the top of my tiny lungs.  We were in Row LL, which was 38 rows away from the stage, so I yelled loud.  And hard.  I screamed.  I jumped.  I panicked when he didn’t stop mid-Roger-Rabbit to single me out and whisk me away to live in the condo I assumed  he shared with Boy George.  I tried so hard to get him to notice me that I did not pay attention to my body screaming out in protest.  Three hours later I was in the hospital.

I had overexerted myself while attempting lifelong happiness and, in doing so, I gave myself a hernia.

I shit you not.

It was the first (and last, at this point) time I had ever gone under the knife.  I didn’t care.  My parents brought me more Teen Beats than I had ever seen in one room and they brought my Nintendo to the hospital and bought me Paperboy and I played that shit till I mastered Saturday.

I thought for sure this stunt would get me on Joey’s radar, and I’d love to say that it did, but I can’t.  He’s still out there somewhere, and I will always love him, Timmy T style, and if he’d only give me One More Try, I could honestly say that I have more to show for my devotion than a 21-year-old scar that’s still numb to the touch.

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