May 11, 2013 § 26 Comments
My mother and I are on a tree-stump dotted lake in a johnboat powered by a hamster on a wheel. We are fishing, if that’s what you call it. She casts right into a bush.
She’s mad at me today.
“Why did you put on your blog that I was tasered at a cock fight? I have never been tasered. I have never been to a cockfight.”
“I liked the way it sounded.”
She picks up another fishing pole and casts again. The hook catches on the long hair of a winsome child playing on the bank and drags her into the water.
“There you go again,” she says. “Exaggerating, if not outright lying.”
“Well, it’s true that you like to fish with at least two poles at once,” I say. “And you do tend to get your lines tangled up and you do cast like a maniac.”
She picks up another fishing pole and casts once again. The hook flies into an American flag outside the federal building, dragging it down to half staff and plunging the country into bewildered mourning.
“You’re doing it again,” she says.
“I’m a writer.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“That’s a good one. I’ll have it write it down.”
“I wish you would not. Also, I wish you would not have written that I was so poor as a child I had to work as a canary in a coal mine. And that I was once a coyote dentist. And that I hunt squirrels in my garden with a shotgun. And that I called Elder Care on you because when you were in charge of me after my shoulder replacement surgery you let a rat gnaw on me.”
“There’s always a hint of truth in everything. You do hate squirrels. And I did suck as your nurse. And you were poor as a child. And you can flip the bird with your middle toe. Admit it, you know you can.”
“That’s ridiculous,” she says. She lifts her bare foot, flips me the bird and then casts into Antarctica.
“I can’t help that you’ve led a colorful life. You started smoking when you were five, and you knew how to wring a chicken’s neck by the time you were, what, eight? And you really did get in a fight with two girls, one with springy hair, and won by grabbing the smaller one by her springy hair and beating the crap out of the bigger one with her tiny body. This is all true and you know it. And the fact that you can flip the bird with your middle toe is comedy gold.”
“I don’t want to be comedy gold. I want to be a cranky old lady.”
“You manage both splendidly.”
She picks up another pole and casts into Pluto, our most discredited of planets.
“You know what?” I say. “I have this vision. We’re at your funeral. Slowly the coffin lid creaks open and your bare foot rises majestically, four arthritic toes curling back to flip the entire congregation the bird.”
“Please do not write that. Please just let me die with a little dignity.”
“Don’t you understand, though, Mom? I write all these things so you will never die.”
“I’m going to die, Numb Nuts,” she says. “And don’t write that I called you Numb Nuts. I don’t even know what that means.”
“No, no, no. You will never die. Not as long as I have a pen.”
My mother shakes her head sadly. “There are so many things you refuse to understand.” She casts again, and her hook flies back through the years, catching on everything.
April 22, 2013 § 40 Comments
Thanks, Ben and Mollie.
You caused this.
There it was, in my inbox this morning, your little baby, the God particle of cuteness, estrogenic kryptonite.
Smiling at me, waving his little hand.
The problem is, it wasn’t just me who saw him. My ovaries saw him, too.
”BABY CUTE BABY!” They shouted. “OH LOOK AT THE ADORABLE BABY!”
”Don’t even think about it,” I told them.
”BABY BABY BABY! Come on, let’s go out and find the nearest wiener!”
“No, we will not find the nearest wiener,” I told my ovaries firmly, and not just because I live in LA off Lincoln Blvd, and the nearest wiener would no doubt be high and stealing a car.
”But we can do it! We can have a baby! We’ve still got it!”
”No you don’t still got it. You look like two old Pomeranian testicles.”
”You’re wrong!” insisted Ovary #1, clearly the leader of the two. “Just give us a shot of adrenaline like the chick who overdosed in Pulp Fiction. That’ll bring us around!”
“No one’s bringing anyone around. Now just pretend you never saw that baby and let me get back to the career I’ve always put first.”
But it was too late. My ovaries went on a rampage, stealing a convertible and screeching away.
I turned on CNN and a grim-faced reporter was announcing: “Two ovaries of a certain age are on the loose in LA.”
”Ahhh,” I said to myself. “They’re not going to like that.”
I called my mother.
”My ovaries saw a picture of a cute baby and now they are on a rampage,” I told her.
“But what do they want?”
“To have a baby of their own.”
”I’ll send them guns and money,” she said.
”No, you are not going to send my ovaries guns and money.”
Half an hour later, another breaking news report flashed across the screen. My ovaries were barricaded in a sperm bank in Culver City, Mayhem Capital of the World.
I hurried over there to find a female police officer shouting through a megaphone for their surrender.
”Those are my ovaries in there,” I said.
”Well, your ovaries are both assholes. They’ve tangled up LA into a hopeless traffic jam and that wasn’t supposed to happen until 10 AM.”
”I’m terribly sorry. They saw this ridiculously cute baby and they lost their minds.”
I showed her the picture. She stared at it. Immediately two wet spots appeared in the fabric covering her nipples.
”OH MY GOD,” she said. “BABY CUTE BABY!”
She threw down her megaphone and police badge and ran down the street. In the distance I saw her tackle a young man on a bicycle and drag him into the bushes.
I picked up the megaphone.
“It me, ovaries,” I shouted. “Surrender peacefully. You’re embarrassing me and that’s saying a lot for someone from Texas.”
”We were just picking out the father on the database,” they called back.
”Such pretty eyes!” called the other.
”You don’t want a baby. They do other things besides look cute. They keep you up all night and scream and do things to diapers that cause PTSD in three out of ten new mothers.”
”Lies!” They shouted. “Modern babies don’t even go to the bathroom. We’ve seen them on the internet and all they do is gurgle and smile all day and wave their rattles around and sometimes make cameo appearances in precious interspecies videos. Their cute little toes are cool as grapes and their heads smell like powdered bacon!”
”You have been brainwashed, you two wrinkled idiots!” I screamed through the megaphone diplomatically. “Their heads do not smell like powdered bacon!”
”BABY CUTE BABY!”
Things were clearly spinning out of control. I had no choice. I took out my cell phone and made a call. “Sarah,” I said. “Text me a picture of your teenagers, will you?”
An hour later, I was driving back home with the two ovaries slumped disconsolately in the back.
The LA authorities had decided not to pursue the matter. “If we put every rampaging, cute-baby-addled ovary in jail, we’d be a nation of incarcerated ovaries,” said the Chief of Police. “Also, I agree with Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey that discussion of female reproduction is icky.”
The ovaries were sullen, silent as I turned down our street.
”That was a dirty trick,” one said. “Showing us the teenager picture, where they’re flipping off the camera and wearing DIE MOM t-shirts.”
”That was taken in church,” I said.
”Baby,” they said. “Babycutebaby…” but their voices were growing fainter, less certain.
“We still got it,” they mumbled sleepily as I helped them into bed.
”Of course, ovaries,” I said, looking at them fondly, these two hapless old renegades forever hot-wired by pudgy fists and dimples.
“You still got it.”
April 2, 2013 § 16 Comments
My Iphone wakes up before I do, nudging my face like a cat.
Seratonin-boosting sunlight pours out of a screen set on “medium.”
A drop of blood red appears at the top of my Facebook page. I am liked.
Kim Jong Un’s finger presses the button on my coffee maker. I hear his disembodied voice say take that, America.
My mini cooper lights up as I approach, like my grandmother used to do.
My audible navigation system forgives me for turning the wrong way. Says she is rerouting. Asks if everything is all right, if I found my adolescence conflicted. Wants me to turn left. I turn right and she forgives me again, reroutes me.
My bluetooth says some day my car will drive me around automatically and I can drink shots of tequila.
Google earth registers my bad hair day, which appears as the icon of a nest. On the other side of the world, Japanese schoolgirls point at it, laughing.
The smiley face on my Iphone slowly turns into a pig’s head and screams GET OUT!
I blink and it’s back to a smiley face.
My navigation system tells me to drive off a cliff, like Thelma and Louise.
A camera at a traffic light takes a photo of my license plate and another of my secret daily fear. It will use them both against me in 2015.
Siri says, you can tell me anything. I am your friend.
I tell her I have a pornographic birthmark that I have never shown anyone.
She says, show me.
Two seconds later, it’s gone viral, and I am the laughing stock of the web.
Siri says she’s sorry, she can’t help being a bitch.
The Dow Jones graphic punches my arm and runs away.
The avatar of a monk virtually immolates itself to protest a twitter war.
Siri says: When’s the last time you felt a warm horses’s neck or made a whistle from a blade of grass or wore down a needle playing the same vinyl record over and over and over?
Shut up, I tell her. I’m not talking to you.
Somewhere my twin on the other side of the solar system puts a message for me in a bottle but her planet has no water.
The DVR says here are your favorites. All the things that cheer you up. 48 Hours Mystery and Girls reruns. Hell of a life, my DVR adds.
A book sits on my night table. Just sits there.
My Facebook page is covered in red dots, like Bonnie and Clyde at the roadblock.
My sleep machine is on Spring Rain. Not spring rain from any particular place but just the sound, splattering against a daffodil made in a Google lab.
God sends a drone hand from heaven to pat my shoulder. Everything is going to be okay.
March 21, 2013 § 13 Comments
The first rule of goat club is to admit you are a goat. I don’t know exactly when it happened but that’s what I am.
I used to be a squirrel. Very thoughtful about the nuts I gathered and buried. I read books. I saw interesting movies. I wrote things. I avoided my mother, who owns a shotgun and hates squirrels.
But the internet has changed me. Now I eat what’s given to me, 24/7.
I know things I shouldn’t know about people with no last names. Justin and Selena and Miley and Liam and Snooki and Kayne and Taylor and Harry except they’re not together anymore.
I don’t really know many celebrities by their work – only by the rumors that follow them, their fake feuds, the time they appeared in public without makeup or got a new tattoo or ran to Starbucks clutching Seraphina’s tiny hand or carried Suri down a Manhattan street though for God’s sake isn’t she about thirteen right now?
Don’t eat that! You might say. Too late. I already did. I’m a goat. And here’s the worst part. I am a goat that thinks it’s too good for Pop Culture. That knows the Bachelor is cruel (watching it) American Idol is insipid (watching it) that I don’t care about an article on whether Taylor Swift is mad at Tina Fey (my hoof spasmodic, uncontrollable, as it clicks on it)
My clicks, my eyeballs, my attention registers somewhere out there, joining the pulses and bits and flashes of light of other reluctant goats, feeding the machine that in turn, feeds upon our souls, dispensing new idiotic information, chasing down new idiotic celebrities, capturing them on fascinating Soul Cycle runs and tanning on a beach in St. Tropez and wearing dresses that become transparent under flashing lights and being late for their court dates and maybe being secretly gay or secretly pregnant or maybe having a secret about someone else’s secret during a secretive afternoon in their trailer in between scenes of some scripted reality show.
I am so way too good for this, I mumble, but it all comes out as Baaaaahhhh.
I keep watching, reading, clicking, my four stomachs working overtime.
It’s not even culture. It’s culture’s detritus. The litter, the scraps. This useless ridiculous stream of (forgive me Maaaaa) bullshit.
I once read Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Now I know John Hamm doesn’t wear underwear.
I know you’re thinking. Just get off the internet, stupid goat.
Can’t hear you. Chewing.
March 4, 2013 § 13 Comments
I have a cat named Sunny, a neutered male Burmese with a girl’s name. Recently I traveled to Richmond for an ad pitch, and though Sunny’s basic needs were met by my roommate, his emotional care called for a little something extra. The warm maternal touch of a woman who would play with him and brush him and yes, spend the night with him. Be his nocturnal companion. Stroke his nappy pelt. Let him wrap his body around her head like a shower cap while he dreamed of his absent mommy.
My mother, raised on a farm in back-woodsy Louisiana, cannot understand the idea of preening an animal for anything but the dinner table, and thinks the whole idea of the emotional nocturnal cat-cuddler is hilarious, and cackles predictably. After all, by the age of six she had been assigned the task of wringing the chicken’s necks. Round about that time, she also started smoking. I imagine her in warm Louisiana sunlight, a limp chicken in each hand, a cigarette dangling from her lips, peering into the rising sun, thinking about her doll made of straw and the circle of life.
But I digress. My cat escort, Valerie, arrived with an attitude and a big black purse which I supposed held the tricks of her trade – catnip and feather toys and half a pint of vodka, because she seemed the type.
“I’m an escort,” she began before I could introduce myself. “Strictly companionship. And I don’t do kink. Last week two giant tabby’s started kneading me in the middle of the night while a parrot screamed out obscenities. I was out of there in two seconds.”
“He just needs someone to brush and pet him and sleep with him, that’s all.”
“I’m not just a cat escort. I have dreams.”
“I understand. Tell me, do you have a cat John who beats you?”
She stared at me a long moment. “I don’t know you, but I already hate your sense of humor, and you too.”
“Fair enough.” I introduced her to Sunny, who allowed her to stroke him between his taut, pointy, was-that-a-mouse-I-just-heard ears. “He likes to be brushed under his chin,” I said. “And he likes it when you say, “Who’s a baby? Are you my baby? You are my sweet sweet baby.”
“That sounds like a Justin Bieber song.”
“It is. And one more thing if you don’t mind. He likes it when you rhythmically, lightly tap his flanks.”
Her eyebrows went up. Her purse shifted and I heard the distinct sound of a pair of claw clippers clinking against a full pint bottle. “He likes to be spanked?”
“No, not spanked. Just tap his flanks rhythmically with your open palms.” I demonstrated. “And if you don’t mind kind of saying at the same time: “Who’s a bad boy? Are you a bad boy? You are a bad bad boy.”
“That sounds like a Taylor Swift song.”
She stood up. “I told you, I don’t do kink.”
“I’ll give you twenty bucks extra.”
She sat back down. “What am I supposed to say again?”
“Who’s a bad boy? Are you a bad boy? You are a bad bad boy.”
“Who’s a bad boy?” She repeated.
“Maybe a little more attitude,” I said. “Like he’s in trouble but not really.”
“I’m really uncomfortable with this.”
“Trust me, he loves it.”
“I’m not just a cat escort. I have dreams.”
January 15, 2013 § 24 Comments
This morning, people had to warm up their cars for ten minutes before they drove it a block, fingertips were too numb to text while driving, and the group of wild parrots in Venice dispersed and flew back to their owners with central heat and say they were sorry they flew away, they were birds after all and like to fly but the hell with it, it’s so cold.
A Chihuahua shivered harder than it ever had at the bottom of Paris Hilton’s purse. A Kardashian’s crotch froze as she emerged, pantiless, from a limo. Mel Gibson blamed it on the Jews, his breath making mist in the air. He called the arresting officer Sugar Tits, but her mittened slap bounced harmlessly off his face. Groups of nannies formed protective wind blocks around gifted children. Thoughtful producers set up space heaters around their casting couches.
Go ahead and laugh, Detroit. Slap your knee, Minneapolis. The ears may be falling off your cattle, but cosmetic fillers below room temperature are damn hard to get out of the syringe. Try running slowly in cold sand, lifeguard wanna-bes. And colonics – well – imagine that water sitting overnight in the tanks.
Unproduced screenplays. The rats in palm trees. The middle fingers of drivers on the 405. The noses of reporters trailing Lindsey Lohan. The sauce of indeterminate origin that never seems to reach the edges of In and Out buns. All cold, so cold.
Tomorrow it’s supposed to reach a high of 72. I’d like to think those of us who survive will be better people.
January 3, 2013 § 4 Comments
I am sorry that I infected you, and though you know and understand that I am a victim – that does not mean you hate me less.
And I accept that.
A friend of mine sent me an email that said, Hey Kathy what do you think of this link? In the same way an alligator snapping turtle says to a fish: Hey what do you think of this worm-like appendage in the back of my throat?
I did it. I clicked. I thought my stupid friend really wanted my stupid opinion.
And so I got a disease, which in a matter of seconds I spread to my entire mailbox.
I am in hiding, consumed with shame, a digital Jezebel, an infector of men. I am like Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables except I was not paid, and I did not die warbling something about tigers.
Now I know how the Trojans felt when the Greeks left them a big wooden horse and said, hey, click on this.
There are a lot of things I clicked on in 2012 that I regret.
And now it’s 2013. Can I start out clean, friends? Jesus would be the first to remind you that he who has never clicked on a digital link from an unconfirmed source should cast the first stone.
Oh, you never have?
That first stone hurt, Mom.