Monday, April 28, 2008

Class of '08

My sister Runtie was here today and after spending four hours with Movies On Demand*, we had to tear ourselves away from the teevee long enough to get something to eat. We were both unshowered and surly so we settled on Whole Foods, where we'd not only fit in but may be offered part-time employment in the Quorn department.

We hurried off to the salad bar where I smothered a single shred of lettuce beneath an avalanche of tortilla chips the same size and sticker price of a new Kia. I was debating how many scoops of cheese I could pile on top without it sealing off my poop chute like the portal to the underworld when I became aware of someone standing behind me, staring at the back of my head.

My Spidey sense tingled before he opened his mouth.

"Hey, could you hurry it up a bit?," he said and I so wanted to spin around and spit out a witty, blogtastic retort but I'd just shoved a fistful of olives into my mouth. I narrowed my eyes, cartoon villain style, and glanced over my shoulder.

He was smiling, showcasing his perfect tooth-to-gum ratio. "Seriously, all the cheese tastes the same. I suggest the yellow one".

He grinned again, as I suavely spilled a spoonful of shredded cheddar onto my sneakers. Of course it was my Gym Crush and OF COURSE I would see him while I was wearing sweatpants--the kind that sag enough to make it look like my ass is sliding off--and a pullover that had been decorated with a thin layer of dog hair.

I was faced with the choice of either swallowing a mouthful of olive pits or spitting them into my hand before I could speak to him, this guy I've stared at for three months, alternately picturing him naked during his lat pulldowns and being relieved that he's not, since that machine is rarely cleaned. He waited for me to say something as I surrendered the pits to peristalsis, choking them down while making a delightful expression that Runtie later described as looking like I was shitting out a box of pencils.

"Hey!" I said, because I am a master at communication. "How's it going?" Yeah. I rule.

"Oh man. I've had a hell of a week today." He sighed for effect, shifting his six-pack of Saranac to the other hand. My powers of deductive reasoning told me that either he's cracked open some kind of space/time continuum and will be loading a flat of artesian water into his Delorean or he's had a bad day.

"Have you had a bad day?" I asked, wondering why my side of the conversation always sounds like it was written for Ramona Quimby.

"Yeah. I have two papers due before Wednesday and I haven't started either of them yet".

"Papers?" I asked, hopinghopingHOPING that this meant that he was the editor of a regional newsweekly and not that he was working on, like, a book report. The seasonal brew meant that he had to be at least 21 and that meant that he was quite possibly STILL IN COLLEGE and that can't b--

"Yeah, for my major".

Fuck.

"And...um...what is your major?"

"Philosophy," he said, which will remain the only selection more worthless than my theatre degree until the school offers graduate studies in Swiffering.

But...college? I had no idea that he was that young. He'd made a Zwan joke during our first conversation so I automatically assumed he was close to my age and quite possibly a virgin. I wasn't even hot for college guys when I was in college. I've always been one for graying temples and glucosamine. While my middle school friends endlessly debated whether they'd rather mash faces with Zack Morris or A.C. Slater, I thought about banging Mr. Belding. True story.

He exchanged pleasantries with Runtie while I wondered if he'd rather have my number or some quarters for his laundry. I was rummaging through my purse when he turned my way and said "You know, I thought about you the other day."

"Oh reaaaally?", I said in a tone that I aimed at "coquettish" but may have landed somewhere around "confused".

"Yeah, my roommate and I just watched a movie called Blood Gnome."

I waited.

"Remember? You told me how much you dug B-movies and this one is sweet. But yeah, it reminded me of you. There were vaginas with teeth."

OK. First, the positives: He remembered a conversation we had! Sometimes he thinks of me! And the negatives: These thoughts are triggered by VAGINAS WITH TEETH. Read that again.

"Um...I'll have to check that out. See you!" Abruptly ending the conversation and racing toward the cash register seemed like a better option than a discussion of the dental status of my vajay. Yes, it's toothless, but at this point in my Gobi-like social life I can't rule out bats.

**********
Leaving Blood Gnome behind us, Runtie and I took our cheese and chip salads to a table.

"He's younger than me!", she began, "And I'm, like, 2 Olympics younger than you!"

"Yeah, but he's hot in a written-by-Francine Pascal kind of way. And probably smart! He's a Philosophy major."

"A Philosophy major? That doesn't mean he's smart. It means he's unemployed."

"Great, we could be a no-income family. If I make a move soon, maybe he'll invite me to his graduation".

"That would be nice," she said between mouthfuls. "Would you give him a card with some money in it?". Runtie laughed, spewing tortilla crumbs all over the table.

Sigh. I wonder where Mr. Belding is now...

*We watched Jackass 2.5 and One Missed Call, which may have been the worst use of $8 in history. We both wished that the demon child would've called us before we watched Bam Margera fly a kite out of his ass.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Deadbolted

So before I get to the blistered, black toenailed recap of the actual marathon, let's talk about how it almost didn't happen. On Saturday morning, my footie pj'ed feet touched the floor at 5:30 a.m., that pre-dawn transitional time between paid programming and regular television. I still had to pack, use my Rembrandt 2-Hour Teeth Whitening Kit ('cause I assumed my lips would be curled back into a Cujo-like snarl the entire time and hoped the spectators would focus less on my crazed expression and more on my gleaming white incisors*) and make time to get to Walgreens to refill my birth control since I fully expected the race to make me its bitch.

I dragged Pigpen out of bed too, jarring him from his customary sleeping position--resting his little docked tail on the corner of the pillow closest to my face--and clumsily clipped his leash on, both of us startled by the unfamiliar sound of a newspaper thwacking against a door down the hall. I pocketed my keys and a crap sack, and tried to open the door. When I grabbed the turny part of the lock (Yes, the turny part...) it turned all the way around, spinning in a helpless circle without budging the deadbolt. Now, I'm not the most mechanically inclined person--my familiarity with tools doesn't extend past my former boyfriend or that Foo Fighters song--but this seemed bad.

The lock was a one-sided deadbolt I'd had installed shortly after the manager of my building led a parade of potential renters into my living room while I was sprawled on the sofa spraying EZ Cheez directly into my mouth and trying to hold back my tears during a particularly moving rerun of Miami Ink.** That said, there was no way to access it from the outside. With one turn to the left, I had managed to lock myself IN.

My apartment (aka the J-Money Pit) is on the second floor of the building, with a balcony that faces one of Slappytown's busiest streets. There's no other way in or out and the front door has security hinges, so taking the door down wasn't an option either. The entire situation sounded like a pitch for "McGuyver: The H.O.A. Years" or a puzzle from an 80's-era Sierra game, one solved by typing commands like "Search for secret passage" or "Lick broken lock".***

I didn't know what to do, other than step away from the wall and yell for the Kool-Aid man. When he didn't show, I selected several locksmiths from the yellow pages, calling the ones who used the biggest font and the phrase "24 hours", but got voicemail for all of them. Apparently those 24 hours are non-sequential. I left a message for my first choice--a selection based solely on the unauthorized use of Looney Tunes in his ad--and he didn't call me back until yesterday, proving that he's neither 'Speedy' nor concerned that I could be an episode of Forensic Files by now.

Next, I rang my friend Tommy, the only other person I thought would be awake before 6 on a weekend. When he finished laughing, he encouraged me to dial the building maintenance emergency line, even though it's out of state. An inappropriately cheery woman answered on the third ring, made note of my "emergency" (I made sure to mention that I had a puppy who really needed to pee and also I was out of Diet Coke) and promised that someone would be in touch, hopefully before I get a cassette from Jigsaw telling me that there's a key behind my eye.

Twenty minutes passed before a sleepy-sounding man named David dialed me back. "So you're locked out?" he asked. "Um, no," I replied. "Actually I'm locked in." He sighed deeply, like I was giving him a setup he should stumble into, like when I used to call the staff at Rick's Fried Chicken and ask the waitresses if they had chicken breasts. When they said they did, I would shout "I bet you look like hell in a bathing suit!" cackle madly and hang up, thankful that caller ID hadn't been invented yet.****

When I finished summarizing my sitch, I heard David take a sip of either coffee or hemlock, clear his throat and say "Well shit". After convincing him that yes, I was sure I didn't have a chimney and no, I don't have a live-in caregiver, he said he was going to get in touch with Mr. Handyman. When I told him that I'd watched that movie on Spectravision, he promptly hung up.

I was halfway through whitening tray 2 of 4 when Mr. Handyman called to say that two of his handy-henchmen--along with a 40 foot ladder-would be arriving below my balcony within the hour. Meanwhile, Tommy called back, telling me to come out to my balcony. I looked down and he's standing there in full climbing gear--harness, shoes, a coil of rope-- and asking if I think I can work the rope while he scales the building like a bleary-eyed, khaki-clad Sherpa. A small crowd had started to assemble across the street, attracted either by my sparkling smile, Pigpen's incessant barking, or the sight of a small man wearing rubber shoes trying to throw a grappling hook into my hands.

"Do you have upstairs neighbors?" Tommy shouted.

"I think so. They move their furniture in the middle of the night and cook either curry or human flesh all the time. Also I think one of them plays the synthesizer".

"Not important," he said. "Think they'd let me rappel down onto your balcony instead?"

"I don't know. I saw them carrying a taxidermied animal head into the elevator last night."

"Again. NOT IMPORTANT."

As if on cue, a decal-covered Dodge truck pulled onto the sidewalk. Two men wearing Mr. Handyman hats stepped out. The taller of the two looked at me, looked at Tommy and said "Guess we're in the right place."

Things moved quickly from there. The two Handymen climbed the ladder into my living room--trailed by a still-harnessed Tommy--and within ten minutes the front door was open. Another two passed before a pee-filled Pigpen bounded into the hall, promptly soiling the carpet. I thanked the H-Men profusely, tore up the will I'd been writing, and watched as they stepped over the stain into the elevator. Neither of them noticed my teeth.

* This is also why I bleach my teeth before first dates.
** Miami Ink is one of my faves because I love personal stories, artistic ability, and the threat of hepatitis.
*** We used to play "King's Quest" all the time in school until a kid named Judson got everyone banned from the computer lab for repeatedly commanding the main character to touch himself.
**** This was hilarious, circa third grade. Also in the prankery repertoire? Calling the bowling alley to ask how much their balls weighed.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Run Hahdah, J-Money!"

The Boston Marathon? Over.

3:23:09.

More from me later after I nap, take more than the recommended dosage of over-the-counter painkillers, and quite possibly remove my legs with the bottle opener from the mini-bar.

Thanks to everyone on the course who shouted for me, even the kids who yelled for "J-Monkey".

Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm a Sailor Peg! And I Lost my Leg!

As you may know, I'm shipping up to Boston (wooah ohh ohhh!) tomorrow morning to run in Monday's Boston Marathon. This could either go very well, which means I will wear my commemorative t-shirt every day and point out this accomplishment to friends, strangers, potential ex-boyfriends, and anyone who fails to notice ("Yes, Officer, I know how fast I was going. Faster than I ran the Boston Marathon. Hold my Dewars so I can show you my medal. ") OR it will be a complete disaster and we will never speak of it again, putting it in the same category as 8th grade, my last job, and every haircut I had from 1988-1994.

Regardless of my finishing time, I'll be running in the bad-assiest sweat wicking shirt of all time, courtesy of my friend Clare.


It's such an amazing garment I'll feel horrible about throwing up on it.

If any of you happen to see me on the race course, please wave and shout and maybe hand me some Teddy Grahams or Powerade or Immodium or something. I appreciate everyone's support and promise to stop and make out with anyone holding a "J-Money 3:16" poster.

Regardless, I feel ready. My training went better than expected so the only thing left to do is eat enough carbs to shit out an Olive Garden and possibly remove my pelvis. I'm a bit concerned about this year's ban on iPods, but thankfully my brain has chosen to retain the lyrics to "Take On Me" and "No Diggity" instead of worthless information like my blood type or my parents' names. I'll be forced to entertain myself so, if it looks like I'm singing, I'm probably singing. Or giving myself last rites.

Thank all of you for the supportive comments and emails you've sent. There's nothing left to do but run, you stupid fucking marathoner, run.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Customer Service

Actual conversation between me and a potential running apparel customer that took place between the Nike and the New Balance racks at approximately 5:48 p.m.

Him: This shirt looks interesting.

Me: That it is. It's actually woven with bamboo yarn, which is the ultimate in breathability and moisture management. It even has natural anti-microbial properties. Also, my boss makes us memorize everything written on the tag.

Him: Really? I bought bamboo sheets at Target last week.

Me: Do they attract pandas?

Him: Um...I...what?

He had the courtesy to wait until I wandered to the other side of the store before re-racking the pair of shorts he'd been considering and stuffing a brochure for the Greek Festival 5K back in the bin. Then he walked out.

I rule.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Roadkill

The longer I live in this pollen coated, sweet tea sippin', magnolia choked state, the more I think that Southern Hospitality is another popular but unproven myth that people stubbornly believe in, like natural blondes, perfect credit scores, and Jamie Lee Curtis' peen.

Tonight I did my last pre-Boston Marathon (TM) long run, an easy 10 miler soundtracked by Shine a Light and one unending prayer to my patellar tendons to maybe not fray for another 8 days. I was about 20 minutes in and running down my least fave street when a sedan the size of a sperm whale slowed down beside me.

I pulled an earbud out and turned to face the driver, an elderly man already wearing his eyebrows at 45 degree angles. He didn't offer anything as a greeting, instead immediately launching into his lecture. "It's idiots like you who get killed and innocent drivers like me who have to deal with it!" he wheezed.

It took me a moment to respond, both because I had to determine which facet of my idiocy he was referencing, and also because his otherwise unremarkable nose exploded into a gin blossom the size of a Titleist. I found out about yooooooouuu-r drinking problem.

"You're not a runner, are you?" I asked, stopping the timer on my watch.

"No and I'm not an idiot, either." This is the part where he paused to harrumph. "Running in the middle of the street with those...those....ear speakers on".

Yes, wearing my ear speakers, about to be Froggered by that blasted horseless carriage of yours.

I shrugged. "Gotta have the Stones," I responded, knowing his gallbladder would prolly agree.

"You need to be on the sidewalk!" he shouted, his reedy voice splintering against the exclamation point.

"And you need to be in a sarcophagus," I wanted to say, but instead I calmly explained that I was running the BOSTON MARATHON (TM) next Monday and it wasn't going to be run on the sidewalk.

"You aren't going to be running anything if someone runs you over," he said, pleased with the amount of times he used 'run' in that sentence, before shifting into D and pulling away. He hung a left and clipped the curb--hard--drowning out "Tumbling Dice" with the sound of the driver's side dry-humping the sidewalk.

I popped my ear speaker back in and decided it was safer to stay in the road.

Author's Note: Don't worry, guys! I wasn't tightroping down the yellow line. I was right beside the sidewalk, facing traffic, and able to leap to the concrete at any time. And the volume on my 'pod was low enough that I could hear Mr. Happypants behind me before he ever rolled to a stop. The only way I could be safer is if I replaced my skin with bubble wrap.

Gratuitous Pigpen Pic

Sometimes he's so effin' cute I have to use profanity to describe it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

High Fructose

I was out of cereal, so this morning my choice was a bowl of Iams Low Residue Veterinary Formula or--the cheaper option--to leave my apartment for breakfast. I stuffed the empty box of the Fruity Pebbles spinoff, Bam Bam Berry Pebbles* into the trash recycling bin cleverly disguised as a Hefty Cinch-Sak and tried to control my craving for something that gave my mouth the same post-Pebbles greasy feel but without shredding my mouth to ribbons like Cap'n Crunch, whose sweetened corn treasure chests are filled with broken glass.

Yes, I still choose my cereal based on the cartoon characters on the front of the box, and yes, I'm including Special K's own Sela Ward in that category. Sorry, Sela. Lifetime Original Series or not, your face has the texture of Gladware. By now the major component of my blood is high fructose corn syrup and a disturbing percentage of my platelets have probably been replaced by fun marshmallow shapes. Here's hoping that Boo Berry has clotting ability.

I wanted cereal, but going to the grocery would require wearing pants. So I threw on my new Sawx hat--I finally had to replace my long-time companion because the bill had completely disintegrated and also it smelled like a dead squirrel--and headed to see my new boyfriend, the McSkillet Burrito.

For the bargain price of $2.99, McDonald's will give me a sausage AND potato AND cheese stuffed, tortilla-swaddled chunk of heaven, assuming that heaven could cause your aorta to explode. The McSkillet Burrito (from now on, the McSkiTo) is the size of an infant and, like a human baby, will most likely be with you for the next 18 years.

I pulled my car even with the illustrated menu (it's now bilingual! Me gusta
enfermedad del corazón!) and sent my order through the mic to Johnny 5 who either told me that my total was $3.18 or that my mother was a snowblower. I've never understood how the signal from my satellite radio--the word satellite implying that it's in outer space or Iowa or some other remote place you shouldn't go without special clothing--is crystal clear but I can't figure out what the fuck was just said on the other side of this speaker.

ANYWAY, I placed my credit card in the hand extending from the first window, because Visa is everywhere I want to be including this pre-dawn drive-thru, chipping away at my life expectancy. A woman wearing a nametag and a lifetime of regret pulled my card into the sausage-scented interior. She reappeared in the window, shaking my card at me like an Outkast lyric. "This card's been declined," she said.

This is a new low, in a lifetime of new lows.

"Hang on", I said, fumbling through my wallet, wondering if they'd accept a library card or a stamp commemorating the ring necked duck.

I literally had zero currency of any kind. An exploration of the ash tray yielded two pennies and a Tic-Tac. I flipped a floor mat and pulled my gym bag from the passenger seat. Nothing. I offered up a pair of Snapple bottles to Dreama--that was the name stickered unevenly on her tag--with the promises of an excellent redemption value. She shook her head, sighing deeply. "But there's trivia under the cap!" I pleaded. A car honked behind me.

After another cursory dig through the center console, I did what anyone in my situation would've done.

I drove off.

I can't be sure, but I think Dreama gave me the McFinger.

*
It's an OK option but not as good as the original Fruity P. Sorry, Post, but it's the cereal equivalent of Baywatch Nights.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

In Treatment, Part the Second

Start here if you missed the first part of this excrement-soaked adventure. Here's hoping that's the last time I'll ever have to write the phrase "excrement soaked".

Dr. Parker paused to watch me squirm as I wondered whether Pigpen had been whisked away to the giant Snausage in the sky. It was well after I realized that I was clenching both my tear ducts and my buttocks that she started speaking again, her words deliberately dripping out like Folgers through a filter.

"Oh, he's fine," she finally said as she rifled through a thick stack of paper that was either the Epic of Gilgamesh (unabridged) or my itemized bill. "Really."

"But what happened?" I asked, the Kenickie to her Danny Zuko. Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more.

"It was completely our fault. Well. Maybe not completely". She put a bit of emphasis on the wrong syllable.

I waited.

Finally her words began falling out out in paragraphs until she paused to ask if I was aware that Pigpen doesn't enjoy "quiet time". Obviously, she ranked me somewhere between Ralph Wiggum and a parakeet on the perceptiveness scale. OF COURSE I NOTICED. Seeing Pigpen calm down is about as likely as seeing Jesus purchase water skis. Or, um, seeing Jesus (without the aid of powerful hallucinogens).

I nodded my head, ready for her to skip the exposition and get to the actual point of where my dog was. Unless she wanted to play Carmen San Diego, hand me an almanac and watch as I researched which country would make me pay in drachma.

She continued. I'm paraphrasing but essentially Pigpen was a Menace 2 Society during his time in the clinic. She prescribed a special diet for him, a high fiber food that rings up at four bucks a can. She had already set aside ten cans for me to purchase, an illustrated Border Collie beaming at me from each label. Wherever my dog was, he was chock full of fiber and shitting out more money than Coinstar.

Or not. The first time Pigpen was served he refused to eat, choosing instead to bark at the bowl until someone gave in and took it away. For take two, they placed the food in front of him, waiting for him to bark. He didn't. Instead he picked it the dish up and threw it. Not with his hands, obviously, or he would've been drafted by the Dolphins. But he did manage to flip the bowl and, instead of eating what he spilled, he rolled around in it.

THEN he barked at the empty dish.

Pigpen was given a bath and moved to a different run, the theory being that if he had nicer digs, maybe he'd behave. They kitted out his new place with water and a dose of subcutaneous fluids, a medical term that means "thirty dollars". Unfortunately, my discerning pup wasn't impressed with their beverage selection so he picked up his new dish and slung it sidearm. Or sidemouth, whatevs. He watched with delight as it repeatedly clattered to the floor, no doubt wishing he could clap his hands or even raise the roof. Since he could do neither, he shat in his bed.

He was given another bath.

Unsurprisingly, the sound of the metal bowl repeatedly clanging on the ground started to irritate the other dogs. They all started barking in protest, a scenario that somehow reminded me of The View. Since Pigpen was dehydrated from all of the pooping, he couldn't be without water so they raided their supply closet and found a gigantic ceramic bowl, one reserved for Mastiffs or Great Danes or Michael Moore. The veterinary assistant filled it, placed it in Pig's crib, and was barely out of the room before she heard the crash.

Sigh. Yes, he somehow tossed that one in the air too. Unfortunately it didn't quite stick the landing, shattering into sharp pieces that scattered on the ground. The assistant checked on him with the quickness but he'd already walked on the broken glass and cut his feet, proving that despite looking like a fruit bat, Annie Lennox knows what she's talking about.

So that's why he was incarcerated for an extra night. When Dr. Parker finally wrapped up her monologue, she led Pigpen into the room. He was wearing bandages on his paws and one of those giant lampshade collars that look ridiculous but apparently serve a purpose, kind of like fanny packs or Steven Cojocaru.

That was last week. Since then he's healed enough to be unwrapped and out of the collar. There are three more cans of the high dollar chow. Pigpen still won't eat it but I've never been more regular.