Friday, July 11, 2008

My Personal Peeve

couldn't call it a 'pet' peeve exactly. 'cause most pets i know have more sense. i'm speaking of this latest worthless car accessory to have caught my eye while i should be concentrating on traffic. that blight of SUV's across the country -- family decal representations (FDRs).


(just an aside -- since when was it necessary to accessorize one's car??? i remember in '69 my folks bought a copper lincoln continental with suicide doors. Photobucketthen they went out and found a nifty little waste receptacle to drape over the drive shaft hump and it was smartly anchored with little upholstered sandbags. now, apparently you just aren't in with the in crowd unless you have wheels which spin backwards on the inside of the real deal wheels. call me not hip, man, but i just don't get it)

Photobucketthe thing that is currently bugging me is the industry that has cropped up for all of the yahoos who missed the 'baby on board' craze. these folks (as their ancestors before them) must advertise the size of their family (including pets) down to approximate ages and genders with a veritible plethora of FDRs. if they're willing to spring for a lil extra, maybe some sports/activity type decals to go along with the rest of the decal family. Photobucketi'll not be able to participate in that, for many reasons, but (and here's the sticky wicket) there is no decal for 'nose picker'. although it looks as if this company may be able to er, uh, pull something our of their hats.

i was always convinced that the 'baby on board' crowd thought we should all drive more safely upon seeing that sign (as if we were not already doing so). what an insane imaginary baby bubble that is! if their cars were not so polluted with worthless viewing material, perhaps safer driving would actually be encouraged!

but i must say this sticker thing bugs me even more. i can see how if the family expands so can their FDRs. they can buy more decals for marriages or births (but none that signify weight gain, i notice, if one's family expands in that dimension). how exactly should the decal for 'junior is becoming a baby daddy of a crack baby' decal look like???? and then of course, we'll need the accompanying 'crack baby on board' sign.

what pray tell should be done in times of loss??? does one just peel off the sticker, leaving a noticeable gap? the red circle/slash (international NO symbol) seems a little clinical and X's on eyes veer into the comical. perhaps halos, crosses, and a choir of cherubs serenading the dearly departed would work? it would certainly help to stimulate the economy, which i know our president (rather, his marionettes) would find satisfactory.

Photobucketi don't even give into my perverse friend's suggestion as to how she likes to imagine the (pick one: ford or chevy) decal with upon which our cartoon friend calvin pees on s alongside cross decals being worshipped by yet none other than our boy calvin. she would like to cut out the middleman (oh, do the math, and you'll know what calvin will be watering -- yes, grave sites)

next up will be how this phenomena correlates to the purchase of cows and a local strip joint (yes it is a long story).

submitted for your approval by your piss ant pal,


Monday, March 17, 2008

Faux's Pa -- Myles and the Moonshiner

I've always wanted to say that my pappy was a pistol and i'm a son of a gun, but, somehow, there is no way to get around that particular gender issue. Suffice to say, my old man sent me off into adulthood with a revolver and a bottle of jack. I'm not sure what his intentions were.

This story was written for a literature class in which we had to retell a story that we had originally heard in the oral tradition. I've always rather liked it hearing it from my father and as he is now 75, I have lost count of the times i've heard it.

I don't normally post pictures of my family, but this particular image sets the place, time and the character known as my father better than any words i could conjure up. ..


Myles and the Moonshiner

cl mccoy

This is a story told to me by my father, Myles, about himself as a young man. It takes place in the Mormon laden hills and valleys of northeastern Utah in the 1940s. Drinking was frowned upon by the society and a variety of blue laws that are still in existence attempt to keep alcohol out of idle hands. As a free and independent thinker, my father rejected these laws and developed his own coping strategies. First and foremost, he says, is if you're going fishing you can't just take one Mormon, you have to take two so they watch each other and not your beer.

This story is real and true and retold to the best of my ability. The names, however, are all true.

Old man Murray, that's Uncle Hatch Murray to my dad, was the sheriff of Uintah County, Utah. He was a pistol packing card shark; a scary son of a bitch who could usually be found in the back room of the Vernal Hotel playing cards with my Great Grandfather. Hatch had a no good son, named Skeet, who was my dad's age. Skeet always stayed just a few steps ahead of the law, which wasn't too difficult, seeing as his daddy was the law. This story begins when Skeet told his dad one day that he had finally found some work, but that it was out of town and he needed some good work gloves.

Now, no decent father wants his son to be throwing hay bales without adequate protection, so Hatch gave Skeet enough money to buy a fine pair of leather gloves and sent him down the road. A few days later, Skeet came crawling back into town – with no gloves and missing one of his boots. He muttered some story about getting too close to a mountain lion, which although possible in that country, was unlikely in absence of claw marks. Most folks doubted that Skeet had even bought gloves. Dad figured that Skeet had hooked up with the local tribe of Utes for a few drinks.

Skeet's first course of business upon arriving home was to go out and visit my dad. Apparently, Skeet hadn't had his fill of whiskey because he asked my dad to give him a ride out to Cooter's, the local moonshiner. Dad wasn't too interested until Skeet mentioned that he planned to ask old Cooter for a pint to be purchased on time. My dad happened to have a few bucks in his pocket, an old Chevy, and his chores were done for the day. He figured that watching Skeet try to "borrow" whiskey would provide some good entertainment. Sure enough, it did.

When they got to Cooter's, the old man poured them a each shot and they visited for quite a while. Cooter asked Skeet how his new job was working out. "Not so good" Skeet said, then he asked if he could have a pint now and pay later. As I sad, dad had enough money to buy the whiskey himself or to lend the money to Skeet, but opted not. He knew that the drink was swill and that Skeet was a bad credit risk. Cooter, too, was aware of Skeet's inability to pay for anything. Cooter practically choked on the plug of tobacco, according to my father, with laughter at the suggestion.

It was time for Skeet to learn a lesson of manhood and commerce, a lesson smart folks just know – that dealers (whether it be crack or corn whiskey) do not sell on credit, it drives away paying customers.

"Well" old Cooter says, really slow "I'd like to help you out, son, but you see, I've got a deal going on with the bank in town. The don't sell whiskey and I don't lend money." Skeet had the grace to shuffle his feet and look embarrassed. He realized it was time to go and asked my dad for a ride home. Dad obliged and then stopped at his grandfathers house for a beer and to tell the tale.

Just a short little story, here, with a lesson to be learned. I wish people could hear my dad tell the story, he has a quite the gift for storytelling as did his father and grandfather before him. I'm sure he told me this one once over a shot of Kentucky's finest when I asked for some gas money.

Monday, March 3, 2008

D-i-n-g-0 was his name-0

from the start here, i'd like to be clear that blogging after a night of no sleep is a half-baked idea at best, but let's just dive on into it head first, whaddaya say? i'll mix some metaphors, throw up some misleading semaphors, hopefully have a few yuks and we can all go home and eat petit fours, ok?

if a one of you has read my drivel before, then you know i grew up herding prime angus for fun and profit -- and a very nice roast on sunday nights, thank you very much. i was lucky to have a horse, my brother, the sorry soul had to run in whatever psychotic direction my father was pointing in and try to decipher what was being yelled in some bastardized semblance of basque sheepherding dialect i've never heard before or since, which isn't that peculiar when one considers that my father is scottish and was yelling through a plug of tobacco.

but sheep are what the basques and the scots have in common -- they both do them well. and that's not what i'm talking about!

back to the round up (i did warn you)

the horse i rode pretty much new the drill. i was twelve and he was at least twice my age, old wahoo knew how to heard cows. this doesn't mean wahoo liked it, just that he was familiar with the general principles. so, there were thirty cows and at least that many calves/yearlings, more or less sixty bovines as the pasture could feed the beasts. now you've all probably heard of cows that walk up begging to be milked twice a day -- those are dairy cows, we raised beef, dammit. they don't all go in the same direction unless threatened with brutal punishment. so one old man, two kids and a horse were supposed to make 60 wayward beasts go wherever my father's mind wanted them to go, as open and direct communication with either my old man or the cows was out of the question.

it never worked out very well. my dad tried new and improved tactics -- like waiting till it got really hot (it routinely goes over 110 deg. in our summers) and the cows, being sensible creatures were in the shade. but oh, not us silly humans! NO! we were trying to round up the cows because at least they were all starting out in the same place and if we could just move them up pasture a bit and close a gate real quick and hope the fences held, why they'd be in a corral.

after many unsatisfying events at the round up my dad decided what we needed was a good hearding dog, and lo and behold, we happened to have our very own collie dog, Jack. Actually, he was King Jack the IV (jacks I-III having met their makers thanks to herding pick up trucks on the county road that ran past our drive). jack got pressed into service. after years of just keeping children safely occupied in one little spot this new trick was one our old dog wasn't learning. my father tried talking to the dog, pleading with him, begging, even went so far as to get on his hands an knees and demonstrate on the dog the precise point on which the heels of cattle must be nipped in order to garner their agreement to MOVE IN THE DIRECTION MY FATHER'S MIND BID!!!!

well, jack was having none of this and after more misadventures in the heat, my father finally consulted the local veterinarian as to what could you do with a herding dog that wouldn't hunt (oh dear, i have mixed that metaphor nicely now, haven't i?). the vet did suggest that we try a particular type of dog that was more used to herding cattle, and if there are any aussies reading, you'll know this means blue healer, queensland healer, they go by a number of names -- but what these dogs can do with a heard of cattle is damn brilliant -- make a heard of sirloin prime on the hoof head directly to the corral (we still had to mind the gates and fences however) and our vet just happened to have one handy.

never looking a gift horse in the mouth (metaphors, mccoy) my father took that dog and inquired as to the dogs name as to not confuse him. he was called shadow and he did his best not to confuse us.

well, as great as he was with cattle, he didn't exactly know what to do in his off hours and now with him around, there were plenty. shadow was a working dog and considered the antics of children and collies to be beneath him. about the only other activity shadow could conjure up was playing top dog, that's A-1 Alpha Dog to every other dog in a three mile vicinity.

Shadow guarded the driveway with one eye open and demonstrated his dominance by peeing on the tires of all cars that came our way, much to our mortification. you may wonder how this could possibly assert dominance -- i assure you, by the time the owner of those wheels returned to their home, the tire stench was assertive.

after a reasonable time, i had gone off to 'town' school for secondary education and became involved in various social activities, largely revolving around church. As the only other entertainment in 'town' was hanging out in saloons, this was considered a good thing. our church eventually had a strong enough youth interest as to hire a youth leader so a 'suitable' leader was found. i'll not digress too far on this issue, but i will say that said youth leader engaged in a variety of questionable activities with the youth until she eventually absconded with one and married him, but until that time, she was kind enough to drive me home after social events.

as i stated before, shadow was a working dog, not a particularly friendly one, but he worked for us. shadow seemed to delight in proving his dominance over the youth leader by not just peeing on her tires but by going full throttle and jumping on the hood of her '72 green demon and showing his canines to her while barking like, well, a dingo!!! my brother and i quickly realized the dog had more sense than the church hiring committee and had good reason to intimidate that woman. she was not going to abscond with any of the youth under shadow's care, by god! the youth leader refused to leave the safety of her car when she came a-calling.

it wasn't until years later that i realized the song my brother was singing every time that demon raised it's ugly head wasn't Bingo, either

submitted for your approval

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

when it comes to love... i want some lohan????

could not help but singing an old clapton number when i saw this fauxnee bologne mag cover


ain't nothing like the real thing, baby


it's like getting nacho cheezier doritos when nacho cheese was perfectly fine


Thursday, January 31, 2008

truth is stranger than fiction -- final installment

with great trepidation, i set foot inside the bar.

the richelieu, had all the charm of a rat hole in spite of the uptown moniker. although smoking was now illegal in california drinking establishments, no one here had yet heard the news. a drink would definitely improve the situation as would one of the dunhills in my purse.

the bar and it's great decision loomed before me. should i order something that needed a glass??? i had long ago discovered that dive bar drinking ought not include the flotsam and jetsam of glassware maintained with with questionable sanitation practices. bottles are the best way to go; at all costs avoid draft pabst and the old crow shots. by the grace of god, i could get the local brew (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) in a bottle. i'm sure it was only because of the proximity of the brewery and not the quality of the bar inventory.

sierra nevada it was -- i tried to pry the bar wench from the thicket of customers at the end of the bar. as she approached i almost choked on my altoids. i clutched my friend's arm and said

'molly, remember that weird group i told you about at the train station last summer? damn! that's the old woman'

sure enough, l'retta (as i had begun to call her in my fictitious stories) sucked a final drag on her discount cigarette and asked 'what can i get you?' in a voice that rivaled anything in marge simpsons family tree.

suddenly, i knew the evening was going to be interesting and that this was no acid flashback.

i ordered my drink, ignoring the smeary glass that accompanied it and took a long swallow. a peculiar smile settled upon my lips and my eyes were ready to drink in the scene.

i looked at the clientele -- no longer the ancient alchies i remembered from my youth (of course, i only saw them stumbling out of the bar). no, these were my contemporaries. the kids who had stayed behind while i went off to san francisco and parts around the world . this was as close as i was ever going to get to a high school reunion and a homecoming extravaganza, right here in the richelieu.

my eyes glittered at my friend (who was determined to remain sober after a crushing DUI from in front of her own house in a parked car). i glanced at the crowd at the end of the bar, and there was the old woman's daughter 'entertaining' a group of balding, paunching men. from outward appearances, they were haggling on price, but i'll never know for sure. i did think it was odd that this young woman was displaying her wares so brazenly while her ancient and sagging mother was tending bar but i had come to expect all this and more.

at last, the mystery was solved...the redneck trio hailed from my own hometown. shit! goddam sonofabitch! i was about to hang my head in shame when one of the gang approached me and offered to buy me a drink. as mine was still cold and i wanted to owe no favors, i declined but began a conversation. i recognized this particular paunch bearer as the former quarterback on the high school football team. and he didn't recognize me. lord knows, i no longer looked like the tall math dork i had been at 17 but i had progressed to unrecognizable. what a coup! in a class that graduated about 80 kids, this is a remarkable feat.

the band began to play. i was reminded of the blues brothers all too much, where the crowd liked both kinds of music -- country AND western. the music was serviceable i tapped my toes and caught the drummers eye. he was a friend and knew i was there in support of him and that just setting foot inside this place was a big damn deal for me.

my new found friend began asking me the usual questions -- what's your name? cheryl. where are you from? san francisco. (ahahaha -- no mention of orland here) what do you like to do? travel.

at this point his eyes lit up. 'travel? ' he said. 'Me too.'

i had just returned from a trip to costa rica and spain before that and was thrilled with the wonders of the world i had seen so far. i was eager to discuss surreal art and the travels of columbus from spain to costa rica. i had stood at the shore where he departed in barcelona and where he was received at the alhambra by queen isabella upon his return. less than a year later, i found myself on the shore where the new world was discovered.

the guy who was now obviously hitting on me said he had just returned from a trip as well. 'oh really?' i asked 'from where?'

'susanville' he proudly announced. to those of you unware of the california penitentiary system, susanville is the newest recipient of a maximum security facility. now, he could have had other business in the susanville area, but there is none. perhaps he was just visiting a friend or family member. in either case, it was obvious that our definitions of travel didn't jive -- susanville was a two hour car trip away from where we were presently sitting.

i began to become bored with my little cat and mouse game with the mentally deficient and started hollering idiot requests to the band along with my friend molly. for over 20 years we had a joke of doing just this. we'd light our lighters, i'd yell 'free bird' and she'd yell 'muskrat love'. we thought it was hilarious.

as this band knew us, they paid no attention. come to think of it, no one ever does. eventually though, i yelled some legitimate requests during an interlude between 'mustang sally' and some other generic bar band tune. 'dead flowers' i hollered.

'well, alright' the singer said. i was happy that at least i could hear a favorite song. until he announced he didn't know the words and grabbed me to sing with them for the next set. i got to do a bunch of hippy/country tunes and ended with my female johnny cash impersonation doing 'folsom prison blues' dedicated to my new friend who liked touring state prisons.

a few more beers a few more smokes and it was closing time before i knew it. i had successfully closed the richelieu that night; my dad would be so proud. the old woman behind the bar finished 'washing' the dishes and gathered her daughter from the drunken clutches of some loser at the end of the bar.

i never did get a chance to talk with either of them and get their story -- somehow just seeing them at the richelieu was enough. i knew which home rule community was home.

the bar closed it's doors for good shortly after that, an end of an era in my hometown. i'm glad i had the chance to grace it with my presence and gladder still that no one recognized me.

submitted for your approval.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

truth is stranger than fiction -- a trio of tales -- part II

throughout my mothers vacation, her friend patricia and i grew closer and closer. we discovered a shared sense of humor; frequently leaving bizarre phone messages for each other, in character of our now favorite rednecks.

we would try to figure out where the hell they came from. which backwoods enclave gave rise to such abomination? there were plenty from which to choose. places that when you drove through there were signs stating 'now entering home rule country' to which i always wanted to deface and change the wording to 'rube rule country'. pat and i would name a community and then write it off as being too sophisticated for our motley crew.

weeks passed. the fall semester began and i began a rigorous schedule of working 30 hours a week as a produce buyer for a local natural food store as well as carrying 16 units of anthropology, spanish, and california studies. in between i was exercising like a maniac, lifting weights, and caring for a standard poodle who demanded loads of attention. i loved it but when an old high school friend called and suggested we travel to our old hometown for drinks i was skeptical in spite of my desperate need for a break.

and now, a few words about my actual hometown. i generally lie and say it's Chico, at least some folks know where that is. the actual town in which i lived was Orland about 20 miles to the west of chico. to be even more precise, i lived in the county of Glenn -- a no man's land where tv reception was weather dependent for 2 dysfunctional channels and if the electricity went out, you'd best find some other way to cook and stay warm because three days was a normal period of power outage. i am not unfamiliar to reading or playing cards by kerosene lanterns nor cooking in a cast iron dutch oven in a fireplace. to call this country rural is white washing the truth.


the grade school i attended was an old two room schoolhouse that when it burst at the seams, three grades were transferred to a stable. when i graduated from the eighth grade, i was bussed into town proper where my class size increased twelve fold from ten to a hundred and twenty. town was an agonizingly long bumpy trip from our ranch and we did not make the trip more than twice a week. i'm sure that some of our neighbors were more frivolous with their trips, but my dad was a registered accountant, a known tight wad, the era was the 70s, rife with energy crisis and our mode of transport was a 1955 international flatbed.

Photobucketas kids, we looked forward to 'going to town' dad would usually by us a road pop and licorice for the ride home. as i reached my teens though, the cab of the truck became awfully cramped. my brother alan and i were tall gawky farm kids and our baby brother needed to sit on someone's lap for the duration of the trip. the deal was whoever got the gear shift between their legs did not have to hold the baby. brother alan would deliberately act like a dork in his best hyperactive ADD fashion, delighting baby matt and mortifying me. my father was oblivious to all except the rare passage of another vehicle which almost always involved not just a friendly wave but often a stop and chat about the weather thus prolonging my agony.

also, as i aged, town began to lose some of it's charm. it was no longer the mecca of road pops, but a glaring example of poor city and county management. the community was a bastion of lunatics, under educated aggies, an appalling lack of law enforcement, and the rare brilliant businessman. there was no industry and that is just how the locals wanted it, not realizing that their children would soon abandon them in the hopes of finding jobs. for reasons i'll never understand, there was a curious amount of bars and churches on almost every street corner in the one stop light town.

bars and churches... lots of them. i had been in most of the churches as a result of various social commitments but had never stepped foot in an orland bar. there were so many to choose from -- Shady Oaks, the Town Club, the Richelieu, each of them a dive bar in their own right. and although i have a passion for dive bars, i had no desire for orland what so ever since i escaped it's grasp at the age of 19.

but, friend molly was inviting me out for a night of drinking on her dime. the only catch was that we were going to orland, specifically to the richelieu to hear her brother in laws band. i did not think i could possibly 'dress down' enough to walk into the joint yet i was oddly looking forward to the adventure.

Monday, January 28, 2008

From the Truth is Stranger Than Fiction Dept. (part 1 of 3)

waiting throughout a mid summer night in lovely downtown chico -- a university town of oak leafed splendor in northern california, a veritable oasis of culture between between sacramento and ashland, oregon. the summer air had cooled to 85 degrees and one could smell the fertile soil of the sacramento river valley. the train station itself was the standard yellow and brown of the bygone era of southern pacific railroad supremacy. the wooden benches recently varnished, yet worn weary from over a hundred years of travelers waiting for their delayed trains.

my mother and her friend patricia and i waited for the midnight train to georgia, which was hours late, of course. it was amtrak and to be expected. my mother, whose fear of flying is rivaled only by the fear that her children might enjoy life somehow waits nervously for the train. i had just reached the age of thirty and after eleven years of manic city dwelling had returned to my mother's house and the local university.

for over five hours we waited (longer, coincidentally, than a flight to georgia) and i somehow actually regretted that my folks were divorced. they each hated flying and always traveled by train. dad had the foresight to stash a couple of flasks in his boots (a trick which has served me well at rock shows over the years) yet my mother allows herself a solitary shot of vodka per day. a sad fact i discovered on my own cross country voyage with her when she volunteered to pack the bar bag.

another trio of travelers kept each other company at the other end of the depot, looking somewhat worse for if their horse had thrown a shoe on the wagon ride into town.

an aging bleached blonde whose years of addiction to nicotine and alcohol were plainly evident on her wrinkled, skeletal frame waited along with her companions -- a younger version of herself, obviously her daughter, and a man who looked like a farm hand who nervously clutched an aging satchel. jethro, as i think of him, would turn his head at a peculiar angle and grin periodically for no apparent reason. in doing so, he'd reveal a set of ill fitting dentures, somehow incongruous on one as young as he unless one takes into account the brutalities of the methamphetamine industry in our particular neck of the woods,

the old woman held court telling tales of woe and misery that harked of a bygone era. one could not help but wonder from under which rock this group had crawled. stories of how her son, donnie, had dragged home some roadkill deer which was still warm and how she dressed that deer right 'thar' on the kitchen table. apparently, she also got stains on her brand new 'good' ten dollar dress. but as luck would have it, there was a bucket nearby for her to soak that dress in. as luck would also have it, the dress was of a synthetic material that miraculously shed blood stains with ease. she proudly displayed said dress, noting it's complete lack of deer blood stains (yet a crop of new and and improved stains had developed mysteriously).

for five hours, we listened to this woman's stories, from midnight until dawn until our eyes glazed over with exhaustion. my mother trying to pretend as if the situation were not occurring, off in her happy place where she routinely vacates when she chooses to not acknowledge her environment. paticia and i, however, were fascinated.

we would take smoke breaks -- me and this fifty something woman. we gave the characters names and constructed various scenes of them bleaching each others' hair over the 'terlet' as pat liked to refer the toilet. we would howl with laughter of the groups escapades (real and imagined) while my mother gave us the evil eye.

at long last, the train pulled into the depot . my mother and 'jethro' boarded. pat and i went to the closest market and bought a fifth of bourbon, just as it became legal to sell at 6 am and headed to my mothers house to get silly and make up more stories about our fellow travelers.

[more to come, have no fear]

submitted for your approval with humble apologies to those who have encountered this tale before,

Friday, January 25, 2008

how i finally shocked my mother

four decades now i have set out to shock my mother, the unflappable nurse of northern california. i'm sure that during her career she has seen and heard it all. she worked in the los angeles area during the decade of hallucinogens and before that attended to the rich and addicted in las vegas. forty years of trying my ever loving best to get a reaction out of her failed to my utter disappointment.

what in the name of all that is holy could shock this woman?

  • was it threatening to throw her in a garbage can when i was just four years old? no.

  • was it maintaining honor roll status while executing dastardly deeds as a grade schooler? (putting the teachers vw in neutral and steering while a bunch of boys pushed it into the middle of the football field?) no.

  • desecrating the school building that was due to be demolished within months? not a bat of an eye.

  • was it introducing her to a young in man my senior year of high school and telling her that this was the man i was going to marry; pausing slightly (unintentionally) before adding 'in the senior play'? ok, that registered mild surprise, perhaps.

  • was it falling into a drunken stupor at the side of the house the night of my high school graduation with most of my clothing askew and the dog licking the evidence from my face? not really.

  • was it registering as a democratic socialist for my very first election just two weeks after turning 18? no.

  • was it traveling 500 miles with my best friend soon thereafter against her wishes? no, that just induced anger.

  • leaving home at 19, dropping out of college, and moving to san francisco on a whim to pursue my fame and fortune as a broadcaster? no, again, more anger.

  • was it marrying a man 14 years my senior that i had just met soon afterwards? no.

  • was it divorcing above mentioned man due to his drug dealing and using habits a mere two years later? no.

  • was it dating and falling in love with a bisexual man who i intended to spend the rest of my life with (after we finished living in a volare station wagon one summer in aspen)? no.

  • was it cutting my job and growing a hair? no.

  • how about the nose ring and hair colors not considered normal for hair? don't be silly!

  • the request for a nose ring for christmas? no, just a staunch refusal.

  • what about quitting all professional nonsense and choosing to stock produce at an organic store in a rough part of san francisco where i was on a first name basis with the neighborhood hookers on my way to work? nope.

  • my televised protests during the first gulf war in which we successfully closed the bay bridge? no.

  • more televised antics as a mud people freaking out the establishment in the financial district? no, but she did learn to stop telling her friends when i called to say that i was going to be on tv.

  • was it asking to move back home with her so i could finish school? nah.

  • how about marrying my baby brothers best friend, 9 years my junior? no, more anger.

  • the announcement of a pregnancy without any marriage plans? no.

  • the birth of my first child only one year after completing chemotherapy? again, no.

  • was it the sane and stable life i established for myself, husband and two little girls for ten years? of course not.

well, what then could it possibly be you may be wondering.

last weekend when i told her the republican candidate i was supporting in the upcoming presidential election.

there, i said it.

i'm voting republican this time. my mother said, well, we all get more conservative as we age and have family and assets to protect.

oh hell, i answered, this is pure strategy. our current numb nutted joker in the white house has created such a disaster that whoever inherits the job gets not only a gigantic mess to clean up, but is a lame duck president from the day of inauguration. i for one would prefer that the person who takes that hit take it for the grand old party.

i am positive that were this to happen that we could enjoy 8-16 years of sheer democratic jackass joy in at least two branches of our federal government. friends, that is enough to make me pull the lever for john mccain.

and that, is how i shocked my mother.

submitted for your approval,


Monday, January 21, 2008

bumsagne -- an urban legend in my own mind

for over twenty years, when i hear lasagne, i think yum, yum, bum-sagne.

it's a lot like lasagne, and tastes just as good as mine, but some props are necessary: a chilly, fog drenched san franciscan morning, a cherry '62 ford galaxie, a pocket knife and some bums.

i was late for work and decided to drive the car that my brother (a fledgling mechanic) and i were holding for a friend. it was parked outside the rented town home i shared with my brother and the intended of my first, ill advised marriage. a sweet 1962 Ford Galaxie, fully automatic everything -- a car that when the accompanying owners manual implied 'finger tip' steering, they weren't kidding; a car that could could careen across three lanes of commuter traffic with slightest break pressure applied while driving on wet pavement. this was a car that ensured a vicious and certain death in case of head on collisions. more or less, the car of my dreams.

also a car whose gas mileage averaged somewhere in the 8-12 mpg range for city driving. not a good car for poor working stiffs such as myself. nor is driving into downtown san francisco. finding a metered parking space is just a ridiculous thought and garages usually started at 20 bucks a day and that was years ago. But hop behind the wheel i did, with a lovely pan of perfectly prepared lasagne in the back seat. my recipe had delighted a number of folks and i had promised to provide lunch at whichever lame ass temp assignment i was working .

i made it downtown, coasted down the off-ramp of I-280, stopped at the red light on the corner, noticing the Chronicle building to the left and three seedy bars surrounding me just as the car wheezed it's last cloud of gas vapor and refused to budge as the light turned green. apparently, the gas gauge was not so cherry.

being a victim of child labor, i mean growing up on a ranch complete with our own gas tanks even during fuel crises i knew how to deal with cars without gas. i got out and started pushing the behemoth to the curb in full office drag -- regulatory hair-bob, heels and hose. now if i saw anyone doing such a thing, i'd get out and help, instead i had mr beamer behind me getting antsy with his pesky little horn. i considered laying on the galaxie's three tone air horn for shits and giggles, but continued pushing and steering. i parallel parked that mother by myself, hoofed it to a nearby gas station, bought a gas can, filled it, brought it back to my thirsty friend and heard a peculiar resonance as i poured gas into the tank. i got in the car, turned the key, and like any loser on 'the price is right' i got no action whatsoever.

damn. i was at a loss. in every possible way. i was broke, i was sure to lose my temp job for being late in the first week, and my friend's huge ass car was in it's own private traffic standstill in a tow away zone. i scrounged throughout purse and car and found enough change for phone calls and a beer.

conveniently, there was a bar just to my right and for the first time, i set foot inside a bar at 8 AM. i called my temp job, pretty sure they'd no longer need my services, to let them know i'd be later than expected. then i called my ever so slightly younger brother for help and bought a guinness on draft as any smart woman would. the neighborhood, while not exactly 'rough' wasn't pleasant either and a bar was as good a place to be as any. my brother had told me to sit tight, he'd be there when he could. i had no idea this would be a three hour proposition.

after a while i got bored, grabbed a paper and headed outside to attend to my ward. i sat on the hood, because the bench seats of a '62 anything are not comfortable and read the good old boys who wrote their columns just down the street from where i was sitting -- Art Hoppe, Herb Cain, Jon Carroll. i loved them all and was enjoying my moments of solitude with the newspaper when a motley trio headed into the bar i had just exited and somehow they caught my attention. they all looked like they'd seen better days, probably back in '65 before they got drafted. they were already drunk when they hit the bar, arms over each other's shoulders, singing. i nodded to them knowing i probably looked just as peculiar.

Quite some time later, they staggered out of the place and one of them, the most well kept or least unkempt depending on perspective, looked at me and asked if i needed help. well that was about the kindest thing anyone had done all day, but i said 'no thanks, i'm waiting for my brother' Sailor told his friends to go on ahead, that he was going to wait with me amid my protestations that i didn't need help. he told me he'd been estranged from his family for years, but that he had a younger sister and he hoped that if she were stranded in a bad part of town that some nice man would be a gentleman and help her out. it occurred to us simultaneously that he was just the sort that the mythical gentleman would be protecting from but obviously neither of us had anything better to do.

that's how i found myself chatting with a bum about life, liberty, and thus began my education of the devastation of the viet nam war. it began to get cold and i offered up the galaxie as shelter knowing my judgment was questionable, but at least it was broad daylight and this car wasn't budging.

Sailor and i looked at the lasagne between us, i thought, what the hell and asked him if he was hungry. he said yes and the desperate search for proper utensils was on -- because even if i was in a broke dick car, in a scuzzy part of town, in the back seat with a bum and unrefrigerated italian food, i wanted utensils, dammit.

realizing somewhat belatedly that i always had a trusty pocket knife my dad had given me as a child in my purse, i pulled it out and began to divvy up the goods as well as craft plate-ettes out of tinfoil. Sailor allowed that it was the best thing he'd eaten in a long time and i didn't disagree. his friends showed up (coincidentally cold and hungry) so i invited them in for lunch. we began to have a rather good time. they were celebrating their good fortune of food, i felt great for being able to feed the hungry and the downtrodden -- and that was exactly how my brother found me.

my brother can intimidate almost anyone with his size and the strain of his biceps against his shirt left no doubt who alpha male was in this group. suddenly the bums felt quite sheepish until i assured my bro that they'd been cool. brother thanked the bums kindly and motioned them out of the car. he took me by the hand and walked me and my new gas can to the 76 station, bought as much gas as we could with cash on hand (not much) and headed back to the galaxie where i was instructed on the fine art of priming a carburetor in front of an admiring crowd of bums.

as if by magic, the galaxie roared to life and while i'm waving to my new friends and saying good-bye, my brother is stuffing the last of the bumsagne into is mouth as he peeled out of their sight.

such was the last of the bums and the birth of bumsagne.

submitted for your approval,