(Please accept my apologies for denying the blogosphere my brilliance for the past couple of weeks. First came Thanksgiving, then came cold from hell, which knocked me flat on my ass but did allow for time to read the excellent and highly recommended The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I hope you enjoy this latest baring of my pock-marked soul. Actually my soul more likely wears too much blue eyeshadow and candy corn flavored lip gloss, but pock-marked sounded kinda dark and deep...for about 2 seconds.)
1. Orange and blue band jacket from Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, GA
During my junior year of college, my pals and I crammed into two cars and drove to my personal Mecca: Athens, GA. (See Crudbucket 2: The Music Issue for an expanded commentary on my love for Athens.) When not getting drunk in the Georgia Bar, hunting for bootleg R.E.M. tapes, and generally trying to make the city of Athens believe that we were the shit, we thrifted. Enter band jacket. It was bright orange with criss-crossing white and blue stripes on the back, Cedar Shoals printed on the shoulder, and blue epaulets. “Wow cool!” my pals exclaimed as I strutted around the musty thrift store and admired myself in the smudged mirrors. $5. A steal. The orange jacket became the coat of record during our stay and my main Michael Stipe stalking gear.
One night we tracked him to a fancy-ish beer bar, The Globe, where he sat in a corner in intense conversation with Bob Mould. The presence of two of our personal heroes transformed us into giggling teenage girls with the added bonus of being trashed on strong European beer. As I tried to roll an impressive Drum cigarette—all my attempts at hand-rolling cigarettes, joints, twigs end up looking like the snake that ate the planet in Le Petit Prince—my friend Nicole stumbled over to their table and thanked them for their music and general awesomeness. They were very gracious. Nicole is one cute lady so I wasn’t surprised that they thanked her and then she thanked them and then they thanked her again. God, I was jealous.
In the hotel room a few blocks from the bar, we assured ourselves that we weren’t dorks, that Michael and Bob (as we now called them after observing them in a bar) could see through our nervous exuberance to the cool souls that we were. Nicole and my other friend Marian went to get some fresh air. Barely able to stand, I stayed in and again tried my hand at cigarette-rolling. A half hour later they burst through the door.
“We were out skipping and we saw Michael and Bob taking a walk. They waved at us and told us to have fun!”
Nicole plopped next to me on the bed. “Michael was so drunk. It was adorable.”
At that moment rolled cigarettes were dead to me. How I yearned for Michael Stipe to tell ME to have fun. Hoisted by my own retarded vices again.
Our stalking continued for the remainder of our stay. The last night of our visit, we hung out with a member of Mr. Stipe’s inner circle who was obviously hoping to steal a smooch from Nicole. She dared ask if our presence had registered on the object of our obsession. “Oh yeah, Michael knows you all. How could he miss you?” He gestured to my coat with his beer. Did I mention that my hair was a flaming orange-red-bleach blonde at the roots combo? I felt slightly victorious.
“Michael Stipe knows me in this jacket,” I bragged after we returned home (I only did this while extremely drunk. When sober, I am a bit more cagey about my name-dropping. Like now. A whole post created just so you’ll know that for 3 days Michael Stipe was aware of my presence on this earth and my love for the color orange.)
The jacket is living its third life as part of Mr. Crud’s oft-complimented pirate ensemble. He is in the inimitably marvelous pirate band, Sunken Chest. “Michael Stipe knows me in this jacket,” I say whenever Mr. Crud reports a jacket comment from his pirate travels. He pats my hand with such loving condescension, “Yes, I know.”
2. T-Shirt from R.E.M.’s Green tour
Seeing R.E.M. play during the Green tour was my Beatles hysteria moment. They were my favorite band. I loved everything about the show except for the fact that I didn’t become instant best buddies/lovers with a member of the band, but whatever, I’ll settle for attempting to decode every shimmy and gesture coming from Michael Stipe.
I bought a t-shirt with the faces of my beloved band on front and the tour dates on back as is standard in the concert t-shirt genre. I wore the t-shirt at least once a week, stroking the sleeves as if they would give way to a college rock genie who could transport me back to the magical moment in the Capital Centre. It was my go-to t-shirt and became soft and transparent with wearing until it was relegated to the pajama shirt ghetto, where it had its next appearance of note.
Beach week. Two of my close friends and my boyfriend rented a hotel room for a week in Virginia Beach. The alcohol flowed freely thanks to slack cashiers at the nearby Safeway. While my pals went on the prowl one night (later bringing back two sketchy marines—ugh) I finally was able to dispense with my virginity, my albatross for the last few months. My senior year of high school, I was ready to be done with it already but every night that I was wasted enough to hook up with some unworthy boy with a lopsided haircut and a Cult t-shirt, I magically got my period. “God doesn’t want me to have sex!” I lamented. (A belated thanks, G-d. I’m eternally grateful that I did not lose my virginity to any of those douchebags.)
When I finally got a legitimate boyfriend, I knew that my pal God had sent him to do some serious deflowering. The only problem was that he—my boyfriend, not God—was, well, a big guy and I was a virgin. For all my bravado, I was skittish about the pain. Wasn’t this supposed to feel good? By the time beach week rolled around we had several aborted sex attempts under our belt. On prom night, I too quickly crossed the line of drunk enough to fuck into drunk enough to puke, responding to his amorous advances with a randomly waving arm and the slurred “Get away from me. No touch.”
My boyfriend, an 18-year-old body builder who oozed testosterone, even had his own crisis of impotence during the run of our virginity-losing mission. The doctor theorized that he was either afraid of hurting me with his monstrous wang or suffering from performance anxiety. So we tried a strategy of no pressure. And also getting very drunk. As a result, I don’t remember the exact details of this vital Beach Week seduction, just that it hurt like a bitch, I bled like a stuck pig, and my precious t-shirt was soaked with the sauces of our effort (um, yuck—mostly it was blood). When I stood from the toilet, finally believing that I wasn’t going to die of internal hemorrhaging, I felt victorious. I looked into the faces of my R.E.M. pals in the mirror’s reflection. “We did it,” I whispered.
Nope, the t-shirt is not part of Mr. Crud’s pirate ensemble but it does remain in my t-shirt crate. In its old age, it has been retired from the t-shirt rotation—also it is full of holes, but no lingering blood stain—but it will remain until someone sorts through my stuff and holds it to the light, “Why did she keep this rag?”
Now you know.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
My goal was to complete Crudbucket 7: The All Grown Up with Nowhere To Go Issue before my pal, Mirjana, left on a trip for India. That was over a month ago. She returned today. Better late than later, I say. A saying soon to be famous on the always competitive catchphrase circuit.
This dose of crud includes a catalog of my fears of reproducing and how they relate to Steve Guttenberg; a tale of dancing-related humiliation at the hands of now defunct (I hope) rock-rap group, The Hard Corps; the horrors of grain moth infestation; a bad bad trip to the Goodwill; yet another foray into the weird-awful-wonderful world of teenage angst; and more. CB7 is available from Powell's City of Books (online at www.powells.com) and Reading Frenzy in lovely downtown Portland, Oregon. You can also go directly to the source and email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), flag me down, ply me with drinks, leave a comment, or whatever suits your fancy to get your very own crud for the low, low cost of $3. If you'd like me to mail your crud, please include an extra buck for shipping. (I've got doodads coming out the wazoo so your shipping buck will buy you some sort of cruddy treat.)
A new post coming soon!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Nicole drove. She always drove. Her willingness to cart my drunk ass around Manassas and beyond was a pillar in the somewhat crumbly foundation of our friendship. In fact I barely remember how we became friends aside from the fact that it involved a mutual desire to get loaded and to smoke as many cigarettes as possible while screaming along to The Cult’s “Fire Woman” as she navigated our piece of suburban wasteland in her spanking new white Mustang during our senior year in high school.
Wait, now it’s coming back. Oh yeah. I ditched my best friend of several years for the punkier, booze loving, and older-boyfriend having Rosemary who then ditched me for the aforementioned boyfriend (after the older boyfriend’s even older roommate—25 years old old—decided he probably wouldn’t get much play from me, a 17-year-old virgin), which somehow brought Nicole and I together.
Wow. I really shouldn’t write these things out or I may realize that I have more in common with the oft-lamented popular people of my youth than I’d like to admit.
On this particular spring night, Manassas held zero promise. Our booze buddy Jimi was occupied with his new girlfriend. There were no parties to be had. My hook-up of 2 weeks ago, the only Republican I have ever dated, had fizzled after the aforementioned date proved to the both of us that we would make a great couple if the only activity of our relationship was making out on a bed while four other people also sitting on the bed watched Saturday Night Live. Yes, ew.
So, fake ID in shaky hand, I bought a 6-pack of Miller Genuine Draft (my beer of choice when I was feeling classy) and cigars (must have been feeling extra classy). We drove by the Republican’s house a few times while I ranted about what a dick he was for not calling me back.
The third time we looped around—I was on beer #4 and feeling sassy—the car made a chugging noise and came to an unceremonious stop a block away from the Republican’s house.
“Shit!” Nicole yelled in a voice that a friend described as a young Joan Rivers. “We’re out of gas.”
“Fuck a duck,” I said. Why that expression seemed cool to me is now a total mystery.
She nodded in the direction of chez Republican. “You should go to—“
“No way. I can’t. What if he’s there with another girl? Plus I’m practically wasted,” I said, throwing back the last warm sip of my beer before jumping out the door to stash the can in the bag in Nicole’s trunk. These were the days before curbside recycling. Nicole carried around a garbage bag of cans, soda and beer, that was supposedly destined for the recycling center. We were environmentally conscious degenerates.
Part of me wanted to go to the Republican’s house (actually his parents’ house), to finally have an excuse to see him and those plush lips of his. I could act drunker than I was and move in for one more kiss or go the righteous anger route. “Why didn’t you call me back,” I would slur as tears moistened my cheeks.
I lit a Swisher Sweet and contemplated. Cigar smoke filled the car. Nicole lit a Camel. “So what are we gonna do?”
Neither one of us had noticed the truck that had pulled up behind us.
A guy in a baseball cap and the redneck uniform of our area—flannel with old jeans and a yellowing white t-shirt—stepped from the cab and came over to Nicole’s side. “Y’all need some help?”
“In fact we do,” I said, attempting a smooth sexy confidence while I puffed on my cigar.
Truck guy and I pushed the car to the side of the road. He went back to his truck and pulled a gas can from the bed. Nicole and I cheered as he poured in enough of the sweet nectar to get us to the gas station down the road.
This was my first and last encounter with the magical redneck. After that night, the redneck population continued their campaign of woohooing as I walked down the street, riding around with the ever-menacing gun racks in their pick-ups, and generally making me wish I lived in a redneck-free utopia.
Relieved and jittery from adrenaline, Nicole pulled into the Shell station next to the Denny’s, our next destination. She misjudged the distance to the pumps and over Ian Asbury’s whine, I heard a loud scraping noise against my door.
“Oh fuck! What was that?” She Joan Rivers-ed.
I nervously giggled. “Oh my g-d, you ran into those poles.”
You know, those white poles between the curb and the pump that have scrapes of all colors on them from the many drivers that misjudge the width of their car?
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck. My parents are gonna kill me.” Nicole said.
Not kill but certainly berate her and possibly take away the white mustang that had been my taxi for the last few months. This was serious.
“Damn girl, you did a number on your door,” the unmagical redneck who manned the Shell station said after surveying the damage.
Nicole and I got out from the car slowly, taking in the black scrapes against the door without breathing.
“That’s it. I’m dead,” she said.
“No, wait a second, I have a plan.”
My storytelling mind jumped into high gear. After filling the tank we went to Denny’s where I told Nicole what really happened:
We were in Denny’s, yeah? Before we went in I had noticed a black car next to you that had seemed to be a bit close, which I noticed because I had to squeeze out of the door. So anyway, when we got back to the car there were these huge black marks on the door. “That fucker scraped your car, Nicole!,” I said, but we’ll change “fucker” to “jerk” for the sake of your parents.
We practiced the story a few times, worked out our positions, and after leaving the restaurant, heaved the bag of cans into the dumpster. We drove around town for a few more courage raising cigarettes. It had to work. No big deal. We worked up some outrage and headed to Nicole’s house.
We told the story to her open-mouthed parents. Her dad inspected the damage. “Sheet,” he said in his French accent. “Pardon me,” he added, looking at me.
“No problem,” I said. “What a jerk. They didn’t even leave a note.”
“I’m just so glad you aren’t hurt,” her mom said, hugging Nicole to her. “Oh honey, you smell terrible.”
“It was really smoky in Denny’s,” I said.
Then they called the cops. The cops? My beer courage was wearing off. The shot of adrenaline dissipated. Could I make it through the questioning without bursting into tears? Nicole and I looked at each other wide-eyed. I called my parents and relayed the sad story, explaining why I would be late. Nicole’s mom got on the phone with my mom “I’m just so glad no one was hurt.”
The police arrived quickly. As they took our statements they looked bored mostly, a little skeptical but mostly bored. Our story was so detailed as to be suspicious, but Nicole’s dad was a prominent doctor, and we were “yes sir-ing” like crazy. To our relief, they didn’t separate us or try to poke holes in our story but simply wrote our lies in their notepad and handed Nicole’s dad a copy of the report for insurance purposes.
Nicole drove me home. We took an oath to keep this little adventure to ourselves, since the police had been involved. A week later, the door was repaired and the black marks faded into our senior year together.
Instead of getting bummed about all the lies littering my aura (I kid, sorta), I’ll chalk this one up to a stepping stone on my career to fiction greatness. I guess this means I’ll have to go out and actually achieve some greatness to justify all the lying. Great. Like I need more pressure.
(Stay tuned for more secrets and lies! Has the statute of limitations on insurance fraud passed yet?)