Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For My Friend Who Suffers From The Only Thing Worse Than Anal Charley Horses

You know who you are friend. Take two of these and pray like hell your ass doesn't seize up like an unoiled engine.

Four short stories in all here my dear friends.

Dog Shit Man

My condo is in a small complex and I sit at the top of a horseshoe section in the back. My initiation into this little community was spear headed by my neighbor, Dog Shit Man. I don't think that's the name on his driver's license, but that’s what I call him.

Dog Shit Man is in his early 60s I would say. He has a slim build and thick head of light brown hair. Benny goes with him almost everywhere. Benny is mostly white with some black spots. He has a distinctly round, lumpy ass. The last time I scratched it, I noticed that there were a few hairless patches. Dog Shit Man’s wife introduces herself as Benny’s mom.

The first time I met Dog Shit Man, he was taking credit for a gift bag of dog shit that was leaning against the bottom of my screen door.

It was my second day at my new house and I was walking up to my front door after a very long move-in day previous. As I approach, I see a small, clear plastic bag leaning at the base of the screen door, neatly knotted at the top. I bent to pick up the bag, confident it was the shelf pegs for my bookcases. I thought perhaps the movers forgot them in the truck the day before and dropped them at the door. As soon as I had the bag in my hand, I noticed some condensation inside which seemed out of place for shelf pegs. Then small-scale horror as I realized -- it was a bag of dog shit! I quickly ditched the awful housewarming present in the garbage bag that was leaning to one side of the door and try to shake off the “what the fuck?!” of the moment.

I rushed to unlock the door, eager to get in and wash my hands, when I saw a middle-aged man come up the main walk. He was about to walk by me when he saw me looking at him. He smiled and said hello to me. I offered the same in return, but my intuition sparked. I sensed the mark of the tool in this man, so I asked, "Do you know, by chance, who put a bag of dog poo on my doorstep?" A beam of pride crosses his face and he quietly says, "Oh, that was me" I’m shocked.

Who actually admits that they skulked around the bushes looking for shit? If that were my hobby [read: freak fetish] I would be very private. Maybe have a poo shrine behind lock and key or something, but no sharing should be allowed. This man was proud of his handy work. He needed to be knocked down a peg.

I couldn’t resist, "I'm sorry, but I thought the tradition leaned more towards cookies." Crickets. Blank stare. Dog Shit Man then started rambling about the logic behind his thoughtful gift.

He tells me he saw my dog follow the movers out the front door and park one near the bushes yesterday afternoon. I’m already lost in a day dream imagining Dog Shit Man tip toeing behind my dog in the bushes, as she goes into her poo stance. He’s dressed as Sherlock Holmes, complete with monocle and he is poised with the little bag open to catch the pitch without smudging the sides of the bag. I snap out of it as he is warning me that we all have to be really careful about cleaning up after our dogs or we will get notes from the home owners’ association.

As time went on, I became more and more bitter about what a dick Dog Shit Man was to me that day. It really pissed me off that he couldn’t just let one slide for a new neighbor. To make myself feel better, I mess with him sometimes. When he tries to say hello and chat -- sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I notice sometimes that he seems to be all twitchy when I walk by him because he doesn't know if I will return his wave or say hi when he does. A time or two he has seen me headed out somewhere dressed up and he has tried to compliment me. I tell him something like "I'm going to a funeral" in the hopes that I just made things super awkward for him. Of course, I never use his birth name. He will forever be known by his self-christened name Dog Shit Man, and I require the same of everyone else around me.

Benny has two furry siblings that like to hang out on the roof of my garage. They also like to shit in the strip of soft dirt that is running alongside the fence there. This particular type of crap doesn’t bother Dog Shit Man at all. I would even go so far as to say that he seems to prefer it since Benny is the only one allowed inside the house. I imagine one day I will find just the right gift bag [maybe something sequined] and reciprocate the gift that keeps on giving to my good neighbor Dog Shit Man.

Drowning Is Like Riding A Bike [feel free to disregard the title - just wanted to call it something]

When I was three, my brother got me to jump into my aunt and uncle’s pool by telling me I knew how to swim. I have only a flash of a memory of falling through the water and then wanting to breath but only seeing bubbles rising above my head. My aunt tells me that my older cousin pulled me out before the adults around the pool really knew what had happened. I remember standing in my underwear by my mother afterward. She dried me off as I cried.

A few years later, Sal taught me how to ride a bike. We lived with my maternal grandparent’s by then and they had a tangle of old bicycles on the side of the garage. All the kids and grandkids that came before us, seemed to have left one behind. I picked the bike that looked small enough for me to ride and we walked over to the church parking lot. Mine was a girls bike with a cracked glittery banana seat and handle bar tassels. The church lot was two houses over on the corner and usually empty during the week. We found it that way when we got there. Paved smooth in black asphalt, it had plenty of room and a cool ramp that came off of the back door of the building, and fed into the lot.

Sal explained how you have to peddle right away or you will fall over. That didn’t seem so hard. He looped around the lot while I stopped and started, trying to balance my momentum. Eventually I was able to follow him for short spurts before keening to one side and tipping myself over.

At dinner, I was eager to tell my grandparents about my big news: I was officially a bike rider. “Let’s wait until after dinner and you can tell your mom too” my grandmother suggested. I rushed through my food but each mouthful seemed to be replaced by another. Finally I had eaten enough that I could be excused from the table. I went straight to my mother’s room.

My brother and I shared a bedroom upstairs, but my mom stayed downstairs in a room off of the back of the kitchen. It was big enough for her hospital bed and all the supplies the night nurse needed. My mother had come to look so different. All of her hair was gone. My grandmother had knit her an array of colorful little caps to wear. My grandfather joked that they kept her brains warm, but I wished she still had her thick, dark hair. Her skin was different too, an undertone of sallowness muting her olive coloring, and the skin under her eyes had gotten so dark as to look like rings had been smudged on with costume paint.

I was triumphant when I got to my mother’s side. “I learned how to ride a bike today - Sal taught me” I announced, and climbed up on the foot of the bed to wait for my grandmother. “That’s great!” and she was smiling when she looked at me. My grandmother came in then with a plate for my mother. She fed it to her in little bits and listened as I recounted the afternoon. I told them how I learned to stay up while I peddled and how Sal was going to teach me to go faster and how to stop.

The next day Sal and I headed right back out to the church to pick up where we left off. That’s when he told me that bikes don’t have brakes. Tipping over or crashing in to something were the only ways to stop a speeding bike. The first day I hadn’t been going fast enough to need to know such things but now I would have to learn to be on the look out for a fitting crash spot when I wanted to get off my bike. I scanned the lot as I started riding . The perimeter fence was completely lined with rose bushes. I could either hit the side of the building or aim for the fence and let the roses break my fall.

My first crash-stop went pretty well. I had been riding around for quite a while and was ready to see if I could do it. My brother promised to watch so I gave it a go. I hit the bushes pretty much straight on and most of the front of the bike caught the limbs and thorns. It really wasn’t so bad.

Someone taught me how to measure out liquid morphine with a syringe and squirt it into a plastic cup with Rose’s lime juice, to make it more palatable. I liked the way the plunger forced the medicine out into the neon juice and filled it with little bubbles that would slowly rise and break on the surface. I felt very grown up and responsible, doing this chore. My mother would shoot down the mixture and wait for relief.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to perfect my technique. I had it down to where I could almost always hit the bushes without hitting the fence and that would bounce me back a little, and that, for the most part, keep me from snagging in to the thorns.

We saw my grandfather turn down the street, coming home from work. I waved to him and he pulled over outside the lot and got out. “I know how to go fast and stop now” I called out from where I was riding. “That’s good! Show me.” he answered as he waved.

I started with a few figure eights and then went up and down the ramp a couple of times. As I glided back down into the lot I started to look for a grand finale crash-spot. I liked the corner across from the broad side of the building. I headed for it and tried to keep my front tire as straight as possible. I made contact at more of an angle than I realized and scraped my arm through some thorns before coming to a complete stop.

I was untangling myself when my grandfather was at my side, picking up my bike and asking me if I was okay. He looked alarmed. I told him I needed to keep practicing my stops, so I didn’t get so many thorns. This confused him so I explained what Sal had taught me. When I turned around to ask him to help me explain this to my grandfather, he was gone.

My grandfather brought me home, and left me in the kitchen where my grandmother sat me down at the kitchen table and cleaned my scrapes while he took Sal by the elbow and walked him outside. I could hear his stern words to my brother about how he should never have lied to me and allowed me to hurt myself.

That night my mother’s two youngest brothers came over for dinner and they brought their girlfriends. The kitchen was loud with all their talking and laughing. It was interesting to watch them. My dad came over after dinner. He wanted to see my mother. They sat alone in her room while my grandmother served dessert. I was standing in the kitchen when I heard my parents quiet voices. I leaned towards the door and heard my mother, “They’re having a party out there while I’m in here dying”

Sal didn’t get to ride bikes with me for a while. One day my grandfather walked me down to the church and showed me how to stop my bike by pressing backwards on the peddles.

Dear God, It’s Me, Daniella

I have a very primitive, fear based religion that really only flares to rapture when I think I am going to throw up or shit my pants. If my stomach turns or my guts lurch, I pray, I plead, I barter with a God I believe plots my humiliation. I promise I am going to turn things around, pay it forward, be a better person. I rethink all of my bad decisions, and vow to do better if I am granted any more time here on earth. You may think I am silly, but it has worked, most of the time. Close calls always bring me to a spiritual place and road trips sometimes turn into a test of faith.

I was dating a guy with a lake house. After we had been going out for a month or so, he had this very romantical proposition of taking me to his lake house for the weekend. We were going to sip wine, cook, stare at the lake. It sounded wonderful and I was looking forward to the weekend. The trip up was about three hours and we left in the late afternoon on a Saturday. I was watching the sunset out the car window as my guy drove. We were about an hour from the house when I suddenly felt a wave of swirling gurgle come on. My first prayer was meek, asking that this please just be a little gas. In exchange I would risk a stomach ache holding it in until I was perhaps sitting in front of the lake when an SBD could be blamed on a passing goose. A few minutes later another gurgle followed an achy tug in my stomach. Something bigger on the faith scale needed to happen.

Dear God, If you grant me exemption from crapping in this car, I will donate a dollar for every person I have wished scabies and cold sores upon when I am behind the wheel. I hope you will allow me to do that in installment payments. Please just let me hold this together. Thank you - Daniella.

I felt a reprieve after that. I started to relax and go back to enjoying the rest of our trip.

Suddenly I was gut punched from the left with an achy pain and a wave of heat went through my body leaving my forehead beaded with a little rim of sweat. My guts dropped and I realized then that there was a complete red alert in progress at my back door. It was go time.

Dear God! I am sorry about the Oprah rant. Only half of it was true, but that’s beside the point. I get that I need to be nicer to people. I am not going to lie about anything anymore either - nothing - from here on out. Also, last week is the absolute last time I am going to pretend like I’m not home when those Unicef kids ring the bell. I know that the seats in this truck are leather and therefore wouldn’t be impossible to get clean, but please don’t let me shit my pants in front of this guy. He’s really cute and I am trying to look normal this weekend. Thanks - and I love your hair! - Daniella.

God was having none of my shenanigans. I felt beyond redemption this time. “Is there a Starbucks or anything around here? I could really go for something to drink.” Five months later, a small strip of stores, complete with a Starbucks, appeared on the other side of the intersection. Three weeks after that, we got through the light and were parked outside of the door. I pulled off a pretty casual looking launch from the passenger side, and hobble run to the bathrooms in back.

Once inside, on a fresh toilet seat cover, I unraveled and waves of relief and gratitude washed over me. You really scared me that time God - I thought you were going to forsake me. Fighting back tears, I continued, Thank you so much for creating Starbucks, and toilets with black hole vortex flushing power, and toilet paper, and air venting systems, and radial muscles. I swear I will find a way to make this up to you. Seriously, you’re the best - Daniella

I looked at myself in the mirror as I washed my hands. I didn’t look half bad for someone who almost just died on a toilet. Mopping my forehead with a wet paper towel, I was determined to pull myself together. It was time to saunter out there and look for my cute guy with the lake house. I planned to celebrate being saved with a grande two-pump no foam extra whip iced mocha bourbon. When I rounded the corner and got out to the counter, there he was, a little smirk crossed his face and his blue eyes glinted with mischief, “You had to poop, didn’t you?” Dammit. I hate when God’s sense of humor puts me in these predicaments. He makes me promise stuff to keep my pants clean and dignity intact, then puts me on the spot like this. I felt conflicted. Keep my promise to God or try to look semi cute and charming in front of my guy. The right thing to do was then clear in my mind. I felt grounded, unshakable. “What? Me? No, I was just, I was … well I had to pee and then I got distracted by some artwork back there. Neat stuff.”

Please overlook that one God. I got caught off guard. Last time - promise. I really mean it this time.

Folgers Makes Me Want To Date My Brother

There’s a Folgers coffee commercial where a brother comes home from a long absence spent in Africa and his sister answers the door. He makes a funny about having the wrong house because sister looks so grown up, and then they go into the kitchen. It’s very early in the morning when brother makes it home, and mom and dad are still upstairs asleep, so it’s just the two of them in the kitchen while the coffee is brewing. Brother hands sister a present wrapped with a bow on top. Sister plucks the bow from the top of the box and sticks it to brother’s shoulder and tells him, with a tender smile on her face, that he is her gift this year. Then time stands still for one intense moment, as brother and sister look into each other’s eyes. Before brother has a chance to take sister’s face in his hands and kiss her, their meddling parents barge in for the coffee and ruin the whole moment.

Folgers shines a brave light on an intriguing concept. Perhaps one really doesn’t have to look all that far for their soul mate. Maybe the people we are best matched for, are the other people our parents had to raise. Makes me wonder what it would be like to date my brother. Sal has a lot of the qualities I look for in a guy.

He’s one of the funniest people I know. We laugh together all the time. He tells great stories. and has perfect comedic timing when it comes to inserting movie lines into a conversation. It’s adds a level of humor you just don’t always get from independent thoughts.

He is taller than me, which I like. At six foot, I could even get away with heels and not have to worry about topping him. I think dating a shorter brother would be just plain awkward. The kissing alone. Aside from Snow White, (who, let’s face it, is just plain odd anyway) you really don’t ever see women bending over to kiss men.

My brother and I have quite a bit of social overlap. I find this to be a big advantage. All that awkward getting to know you stuff that one has to do for the friends and family of a new partner would be nonexistent for us. No disapproving in-laws to have to try and win over. Telling the story of how you met gets tired pretty quick too. We practically hate all the same family which makes things so much easier than separate shit lists.

Like most healthy couples, Sal and I have a lot in common lifestyle wise and we compliment each other. He has a bunch of horses and I have always thought maybe I would like to learn how to ride. I support his career goal of ranching and he thinks it’s great that I am pursuing writing. He knows how to fix stuff and I know how to cook.

Ultimately, I decided against going after Sal for what in hindsight ended up being a pretty obvious reason. In fact I felt foolish for pitching the whole thing to myself while glossing over the obvious reality all along. Sal lives three hours away. Neither one of us has ever put much faith in long distance relationships. It would never work. Back to the drawing board.

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