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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How I am More Irresponsible Than a Petty Thief

When I asked everyone about a month ago which of three stories you wanted me to write about, your response was overwhelmingly in favor of “The Three People in the Universe that Hate Me and Why”. (By the way, guys, rude.) And I am going to write that one. I promise. But first, I have to tell you about a situation that happened last month in which I proved to be more irresponsible and aggravating than a petty thief.

First, let me preface this by saying that I am responsibly irresponsible. I went to school. I got good grades. I have a career (in a dying industry, but quit focusing on that! Stop being so negative!). I am a relatively morally and ethically sound person that makes generally good decisions.

Fig. 1.1
Yes. I think listening to MC Hammer is a good decision. This is why I said generally good decisions.

But ultimately, I am not an overly responsible person.

Here are some examples:

• I don’t check my mailbox. Ever. On the rare occasions that I do check my mail box, there is usually an angrily scrawled note from a postal worker about how they had to take my mail back to the post office because the box was so full. They give me some terrible deadline to pick it up (only 11 days! Who has the time?!) and then threaten to send it all back. There are usually three or four of these in my mailbox at a time. Whose mailbox is that full? So full that the postal worker has to take out all of the mail they presumably put into the box? But here’s my argument. It’s really far away from my apartment. And no, I’m not going to go pick up my mail. I have no desire to go to the post office where a picture of my overflowing mailbox is probably posted on the wall with bullet holes and blood and knife-stab wounds in it. In this vision, my name is under the mailbox and there are people snarling at it like the moment they figured out who the villain was in The Happening.

Fig. 1.2

No thank you. You can keep my mail. In that same vein:

• I do not know where the post office is. I do not want to talk about it.
• For roughly three months, my refrigerator has contained two bottles of margarita mix, one half-consumed 24 pack of Lone Star (that I didn’t even purchase), one bag of flour that got wet and can’t be used, two bottles of Blue Moon, a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20, some Yellow Tail wine that most people would cook with but I fully intend to drink, a container that I think had potato soup in it at one time, and, for some inexplicable reason, a bottle of bleu cheese dressing that expired in 2009, which insinuates that not only have I had the expired dressing for two years, but I moved the expired dressing from one apartment to the other.
• I’m supporting Britney Spears’ comeback.

Fig. 1.3
Supporting Britney Spears: Wildly irresponsible

You get the idea. Now that you know the truth, I’m going to tell you about how a thief broke into my car and how it caused them more aggravation than me.

Near my apartment, there is a bridge that an awesome bat colony lives under. Did I say “bridge that an awesome bat colony lives under”? I’m sorry. I mean “bridge that a totally awesome bat colony lives under”. They fly out about dusk every night to eat mosquitoes and scare crybabies and turn into Freemasons or whatever.

Fig. 1.4
Remember-Freemasons are not vampires. And they probably aren’t bats either.

Because my brother hadn’t seen this mass exodus before, we went down to the bridge to look. I parked my car across the street, in a lot that has signs that say something to the effect of “I hate you, you’re stupid, don’t park here or I will literally skin you alive and sell all of your organs on the black market. And then we’ll tow your car”. So I took my chances. Of course, I was nervous, so I kept glancing back over to see if there were pygmies with knives driving tow trucks ready to skin me alive and tow my car away. There weren’t. After about fifteen minutes, there was, however, an enormous diesel truck parked next to mine. My internal dialog went something like this:

Oh! Another truck! They’re probably watching the bats too. It’s so weird they parked right next to me! There are so many other parking spaces…I guess they think NEITHER of us will get towed that way. They’re probably really sweet. I wonder who it is! Maybe they’re standing right next to me! (Then I smiled at the person standing right next to me.)

The theme of incurable optimism keeps reoccurring throughout this blog. You can find it here and here. This situation is no different. As it turns out, the person who owned the enormous diesel truck was not standing next to me.

After the bats were finished being awesome, my brother and I walked back to the car. On the way there, I looked up and saw the enormous diesel truck. I then looked down for precisely half of one second to make sure I didn’t trip over the curb, fall into the street and get brutally crushed to death by oncoming traffic. When I looked back up, the enormous diesel truck was gone.

Man! They left fast!

Where have we seen this kind of naïveté before?
Fig. 1.5

Fig. 1.6

Fig. 1.7
And here.

That’s right. In Buddy the Elf, who loves Christmas and whose father is a Christmas elf, Navin Johnson, who was raised a poor, black child, and George Bush, who I am convinced thought he was playing the part of a lovable rascal for nearly a decade. We see this kind of sweet, child-like naïveté when the world is about to be a douchebag and rob people blind of their innocent nature. Which is exactly what was about to happen to me.

My brother walked to the driver’s side door and looked at me with an expression that, I think, is similar to one Al Gore would make if you told him that you didn’t know what “the internets” were.

Fig. 1.8
“Bitch! I INVENTED the internets!”

(On a slightly more hilarious side note, if you Google image “confused mad Al Gore” you not only get a confused, angry Al Gore, but Al Gore’s head photoshopped onto a showering woman’s body, a monkey with his tail tied in a knot, a zombie, and the Three Stooges. Just throwing this out there.)

The entire driver’s side window was shattered. There was glass everywhere. And my purse, which was under the passenger side seat, was gone. An extra slap in the face, my iPod, which is FULL of excellent artists like Huey Lewis and Paula Abdul, was sitting on the center console where I left it.

I immediately changed my mind about the person who owned the enormous diesel truck.

How COULD he?!

You know that feeling you get when you can’t find your keys? And you know you had them, and you know they were in your hand, but you put them down somewhere to play one very fast level of Super Mario 3 and now they’re probably in the refrigerator or the dog’s kennel? And if you don’t find them fast, you’ll NEVER get to the Super Troopers quote-along in time, and you’ll miss out on the syrup chug and maybe they’ll also be out of fake mustaches? That’s exactly how I felt as I tried to run through what was in my purse and what I lost. And this is what I came up with:

• One packet of instant Quaker Oatmeal-Peach
• One expired driver’s license that also had the incorrect address on it (yes. this is the license I was using.)
• One very tiny screwdriver, possibly either to use on glasses or for a mouse to use for making sardine cans into very tiny beds
• One Power Ranger action figure-Rocky
• One small bag of ear plugs
• One melted MAC lipstick
• One menthol Chapstick, capless and full of dirt and, for some reason, a sticker burr
• One spark plug gapper
• Three pens, two broken and one out of ink
• Business cards for my makeup artist work, most of them crinkled, others with gum in them
• One empty roll of Bubble Tape
• One gas station receipt, which revealed that I once (more than once, but this only documented one time) put an entire $4.34 in my tank before I got bored and decided that was enough to get me to work
• One pencil, unsharpened
• One camera, filled with pictures I took of myself, and pictures of my foot. I don’t have time to explain.
• One debit card, half eaten by my dog, connected to an account with precisely $17.12 in it
• My purse, which is an ADORABLE corduroy leopard print purse that came from Old Navy and cost $3.50.

But here’s the thing. Who sees a PT Cruiser convertible and thinks to themselves, “jackpot”?

So I called the police and then called my bank and told them to cancel the card. And that’s when the lady that answered laid this on me. They had already tried to use the card, for $170 at a Chevron, and it was declined. Do you know what that means? They tried to make ME pay for $170 in gas for their enormous diesel truck and they had to pay for it themselves because I am so irresponsible. And the best thing they got out of my purse was a packet of instant oatmeal. (And my purse, which I was most upset about, because it was leopard print AND corduroy, clearly making it a fashion one-two punch).

I got the window fixed, which was an irritating $110, (which, if you’re a scientist, you’ve figured out is still less than the $170 they had to pay in gas) and just lamented the loss of my very cute purse that even a homeless person could afford to purchase.

And here is where things get amazing. About a week later, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t know.

It was a woman. Who found my purse. On the street.

And here is where things get really amazing.

The only thing missing was my camera.

So here’s what I imagined the thieves’ day went like after they stole my purse (I don’t know why I envision that there are two, working in tandem to steal my purse from my very unsecured car, but it is what it is):

Scene 1: Driving away
Horrible person 1*, on the way to the gas station: This purse has oatmeal in it. And a power ranger.
Horrible person 2**: I have a shard of glass in my hand.

*From here on out, Horrible Person 1 will be called Marcel, and **Horrible Person 2 will be called Jeff. Because in my head, that's what their names are. Mostly because I don't trust people named Marcel or Jeff.

Scene 2: At the gas station
Gas station attendant: That’s $170, please.
Marcel: Here’s my girlfriend’s card. She’s in the car. Her name is…Jennifer?
Gas station attendant: This card has been declined.
Marcel, who has just given gas station attendant his card: God damnit.
Gas station attendant: I’ve lost my pen, do you have one to sign the receipt?
Marcel, who tries to use any writing utensil in my purse: God. Damnit.

Scene 3: Leaving the gas station
Marcel: This woman needs to get her life together! I need some gum!
Jeff: There was some Bubble Tape in her purse.
::Marcel opens the empty Bubble Tape::
Marcel: GOD DAMN IT!!!!!

::Marcel grabs my camera out of my purse, throws the purse out of the window in a fit of rage. A nice lady picks it up, finds business cards that don’t have gum in them, and calls me.

Fig. 1.9
Not a Dramatization.

Scene 4: Later that night, in the thieves lair, which I imagine is very lair-like where there are drug dealers and marauders wearing eye patches and lots of other stolen items like bicycles, the original Mona Lisa, the CD’s that were stolen out of my car when I was 18 and King Tut’s treasure.
Marcel, crying hysterically, talking to his girlfriend: …And then, all she had in her purse was some disgusting lipstick, some oatmeal, an action figure, business cards with already chewed gum in them, an expired license with a bad address —and we know it’s a bad address because we went to the apartment on her license to beat the shit out of her, but the only person home was an old man who didn’t know her—a credit card with nothing on it, an empty roll of Bubble Tape and a camera. And all that’s on this camera is some chubby chick and pictures of her foot. (sobbing—like that kind of sobbing where he’s just sucking in air and making weird honking sounds)…Her iPod was seven years old and all she had on it was some John Stamos song and New Kids on the Block and Huey Lewis (one final choking sob)...And Jeff cut his hand, and I’m pretty sure it’s infected… (aaaaand scene. fade to black with Marcel, who is inconsolable, with his head in his girlfriend's lap.)

And that is how irresponsible I am. More irresponsible than a petty thief.

And I got my purse back. I think we all know what the lesson here is.

Fig. 1.10
Fashion 1-2 punch. With a pen for size reference.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why you can't count on my sister if a murderer is in your house

Do you have a sibling that is ferociously loyal? I mean, so loyal that if someone hurts your feelings, that sibling will literally rip out their eyeballs and feed those eyeballs to them?

Fig. 1.1
Eyeballs: They’re what’s for dinner. If you hurt my feelings. And my sister hears you.

Because that’s my sister. She has avenged me when ex-boyfriends have misbehaved.  She has stayed up all night after a car accident that caused her SO much pain to make a photo album for me for my birthday.  She has left a friend’s house in Pearland and made it to my apartment near downtown Houston in about fifteen minutes when I called her crying about the end of a relationship. When I got some bad news last Wednesday, she drove out to my apartment, six months pregnant and probably tired after working all day, in rush hour traffic to make sure that I would be ok. That’s my little sister.

But if there’s a possibility that there is a murderer in your house and you look to my sister for help, your ass is on your own.  This is the harsh lesson I learned when I was about ten.

First, you need some background on how my brother, sister and I were when we were younger to appreciate the story I’m about to tell you.

I’m the oldest child. When you’re the oldest child, the responsibility often falls on you to watch younger brothers and sisters because your parents assume that, as the oldest and most responsible, you’re not doing things that might scar your younger siblings for life. Some of the things parents do not think an older sibling is doing while they are at work include:

-Making them play Mama Cat Baby Cat, wherein the mama cat, while lounging on top of the bed and pretending to purr, tells the baby cat where to put toys back that were previously  strewn about the room. The baby cat then picks said toys up in her mouth, meows, occasionally chases invisible string and puts the toys back where they belong. Is it my fault that baby cats like to clean shared bedrooms? Is it my fault baby cat thought this was a fun game?

Fig. 1.2
My sister enjoyed Mama Cat, Baby Cat most of the way through high school. We didn’t even share a room anymore.

-Telling your younger brother you possess the magical power to turn anybody invisible, and you are choosing him to showcase that power. So with one wave of a sparkly baton and reciting some kind of poem you heard on Pee Wee’s Play House, the kid’s invisible. Then, the “only way you can see him sneaking around the house is by the footprints he’s leaving in the carpet”.  And then you tell him that you don’t know how to make him visible again. And then he cries. A lot. And then your mom comes home. And then he tearfully asks your mom if she can see him.  And then there’s a lot of judging going on even though it was JARRETT who loved the game so much.

Fig. 1.3
Couches: They make lousy hiding places. Also, my brother had a sweet bowl cut.

-Singing very loudly and obnoxiously at the top of your lungs any time your younger sister tries to talk, causing the sound of your singing (beautiful and songbird-like as it may be) to turn her stomach nearly 16 years later (she needs to let this one go.)

Fig. 1.4
Paula Abdul was incredible. But not as incredible as my voice.

These are just a handful of the things my parents probably did not think I was doing after school and over long summer hours when they were very hard at work trying to pay for things like mortgages and cars and cheerleading and soccer and baseball and piano lessons and karate (which promptly ended when I accidentally poked my instructor in the eye while trying to balance on one foot)and other things, like purchasing replacement fuses when my brother blew out all of the electricity in the house (I’m not actually sure they had to buy replacement fuses, but he did throw all of the breakers when a screw “accidentally” fell into an open light socket).

Don’t be fooled though. Younger siblings dish it out in less manipulative but possibly more damaging ways. Like the time my sister thought she saw a tiger awake under my bed, and instead of warning me, she ran to my parent’s room and never said anything to anybody. I’ll repeat that last part. SHE THOUGHT SHE SAW A LIVE, MAN-EATING TIGER UNDER MY BED WHILE I WAS ASLEEP AND DIDN’T TELL ANYBODY. Was it a real tiger? Is that really the point?! She THOUGHT it was a real tiger!

Fig. 1.5
If you’re worried about being “the girl who cried tiger” and it’s my life that’s at stake, risk it.

Now that you have the background, you’ll fully understand why I was always left in charge and why, if you think murderers are breaking into your home, you probably don’t want my sister there as your only backup.

Let me preface this story by explaining that children do not believe in abstract things like fate or Eskimos or physics. They believe in very scary monsters, Santa Claus and murderers, in that order.

Fig. 1.6
If you pick the wrong mall Santa, sometimes very scary monsters, Santa Claus and murderers are all the same thing. Also, this was the beginning stages of my brother's sweet bowl cut.

That being said, we were home alone one day over the summer. My brother, sister and I were all in my parent’s bedroom watching Hey Dude (that’s right, Hey Dude. What’s up, 1991?), with the doors and windows in the house open. Then the bedroom door slammed shut. It didn’t just slam shut. It slammed shut with precisely the amount of force it would take for someone who was not the little cartoon version of Arthur in Sword and the Stone to try and pull the sword out of the anvil.

Fig. 1.7
This guy: Not King Arthur. Also, your hat is stupid.

Remember way back, when I said that kids don’t believe in abstract things like fate, Eskimos or physics?

We assumed that the reason the door slammed was NOT that with all of the doors and windows in the house open, a vacuum effect was created when the wind blew, thus shutting the bedroom door. I mean, my science fair project up to this point was making toothpaste out of baking soda, for which I substituted powdered sugar because it tasted better.

We were absolutely 100 percent positive the door slammed shut because there was obviously a murderer on the other side, and that he shut the door to corral us in and would bake us in the oven and eat us after he was finished going through all our stuff. And all I could think about was how this murderer would definitely steal my Jem doll. And probably Teddy Ruxpin, even though I had accidentally poked one of his eyes out, thus rendering him a terrible, blinking cyclopean monster. And that he would leave the Fob, because fobs were only minor characters in the world of Teddy Ruxpin, and no one wants a backup dancer unless you’re Britney Spears.

All of this took place in about half a second. We sat there staring at the door, hoping that one of our parents would come through it and say something like “just joking! no murderers here!”, but they didn’t. I scrambled off the bed and my sister was already gone. I looked up just in time to see her LOCKING HERSELF IN THE BATHROOM WITH MY BROTHER AND I ON THE OTHER SIDE SEPARATED FROM THE MURDERER BY ONLY A THIN BEDROOM DOOR. I tried reasoning with her.

Me: Meg, let us in.
Megan: NO.
Me: Please?
Megan: NO.
Me: How about Jarrett?
Megan: I SAID NO!
Me: Why not?
Megan: There’s not enough room.

In her defense, it was a small bathroom, but when there’s a murderer afoot, you’re supposed to come together as a family and squeeze into the bathroom.

The situation was immediately compounded by the fact that my brother was five, and was going through a phase. At different points in my little brother’s young life, he went through phases that made him aspire to do out-of-the-ordinary things. For example, for a while after Happy Gilmore came out, he wanted to be a golfer. He went through a MacGuyver phase that resulted in all kinds of electronics being shorted out. After Ace Ventura came out, he walked around like Jim Carrey for a while. At one point, he wanted to be a clown.

On this particular day, in this particular setting, my little brother wanted to be a ninja. This was coupled with a toy he had gotten from Little Caesar’s. When he was about five, if my parents went to Little Caesar’s, my brother would lose his mind to go inside and say “please, please”. If you said “please please” to a worker at Little Caesar’s, they gave you a plastic toy that some six-month-old child in China made for exactly half of one cent.

Fig. 1.8
I mean, the toy thing is at the very end, and it’s really not important, but do you REMEMBER this commercial?!

The toy he had in his possession the day the murderers tried to kill us was a plastic pan flute that made no type of discernable music whatsoever.

So I had just finished trying to negotiate with my sister, who had locked herself in the bathroom, to open the door and at least let my brother in, and she was clearly not going to give in. I turned around to find my brother, because I was going to stick him the closet or under the bed or something, and I didn’t see him.

I didn’t see him, because he was crouched down in a very threatening position near the bedroom door peering under the crack.

Me: What are you doing.
Jarrett (who is whispering conspiratorially): I’m setting a booby trap.
Me: What kind of booby trap. That’s a bad idea.
Jarrett (still whispering): I put my toy I got from saying pleaseplease under the door. When the killer tries to steal it, I’ll open the door, and karate chop him in the face.
Me: That’s a dumb idea. No one wants that stupid toy. (because their arms would be full of Jem and Teddy Ruxpin, and if they had enough room left, ALL of my Sweet Valley High books. Also, that’s not a booby trap, it’s just misdirection, but I let it slide because he was five.)
Jarrett (who, all of a sudden, is absolutely not concerned with whispering anymore): IT IS NOT A DUMB IDEA. THEY WILL WANT MY TOY.
Me: Shut UP! They will KILL us! And Megan is NOT letting us in the bathroom!

So now, not only is the murderer sure that we’re in the room, he’s mad that Jarrett’s trying to bribe him with a stupid toy that the murderer could get for free just by saying “please, please”. It was about then that I decided it would be a good idea to call my mother at work. I had learned from Miss Richardson, a terrifying counselor in elementary school, that if you called 9-1-1 and didn’t need it, your parents would be arrested, you would be shipped off to an orphanage, you would never see anyone you loved ever again and eventually you would end up working sound for Milli Vanilli or something horrible like that. So calling the police was out.

Fig. 1.9
Girl you know it, girl you know it, girl you know it was NOT going to end like this for me.

I called my mom. She explained how doors can shut by themselves to me, but all I heard was “there is a murderer or a monster in the house. Get into the bathroom or you and your brother will die”. I also remember telling her that Megan wouldn’t let us in the bathroom. Looking back, my mom didn’t sound surprised. I guess some parts of our personality are ingrained in us from birth, and my mom was aware that my sister would leave us and never look back if a murderer were in the house.

So while my mom called our neighbor to come over and check on us, I tried to reason with my sister, the original cut-and-run-er.

Me: Megan, please let us in.
Megan: No.
Me: Meg. You have to let us in.
Megan: GO AWAY!
Jarrett (who is still ready to strike): Jennie! HE WILL TRY TO GET MY TOY!

Eventually my neighbor came over, called out to us, tried to explain that there weren’t any murderers in the house and that everything was ok.

We were able to (finally) coax Megan out of the bathroom, but obviously, if there had been a murderer (or a monster) in the house, it was definitely going to kill Jarrett and I.

And Megan was very clearly ok with that.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How I Almost Died Several Times Last Thursday

Have you ever passed someone that was broken down in the middle of a busy freeway and thought “woah. I bet that sucks”?

It does.

And have you ever said something to someone and afterwards thought, “that may come back to bite me in the ass later”?

It will. I imagine this is what ran through the Native American’s minds after they said “hey, why don’t you guys join us for dinner”.

Fig. 1.1
Why women want you to ask before you invite people to dinner.

Thursday night, I was driving home from work.  It was about 6 p.m., so traffic on the major freeway I use to get home was pretty bad. Did I say pretty bad? I mean “the only way it could have been worse was if people had gotten out of their cars, set themselves on fire, and run around in circles blocking all six lanes of traffic”. Those of you from Houston understand how 290 works. For those of you who don’t know what 290 looks like during rush hour, below you’ll find a rough estimation.

Fig. 1.2
US 290: Where people in Smart Cars go to die.

So I’m driving along, cheerfully listening to the Huey Lewis and the News playlist on my iPod and I see a car in one of the center lanes broken down. The driver’s eyes have completely glossed over and he looks like Rain Man.

Fig. 1.3
"I get to drive slow on the drive way"

I assume this is because 90 million people want to kill him and his car is stuck in one of the center lanes.  Did I mention that his car is stuck in one of the center lanes? And also, 90 million people want to kill him? I know I said that already, but I mean, come on. That’s got to be a really horrible feeling. I hope Kanye West feels like this all the time, but I doubt it.

And I think to myself, “Woah. I bet that sucks”.

So I continue driving for about one more mile in one of the center lanes, when the following happens: my car is fine. my car is fine. my car is fine. my car is fine. MY CAR IS NOT FINE.

Fig. 1.4
Don't even pretend that you don't like Huey Lewis.

Everything died. My lights. My flashers. Huey Lewis. Everything. I couldn’t put the car in gear. I couldn’t coast to another lane. I couldn’t will it back to life with The Force. So I did what any normal person would do. I stared listlessly out the window like Rain Man and then freaked out.

Cars, already pissed off beyond all possible belief that they had to be stuck behind one stalled car a mile back, were driving past me at approximately 87 million miles an hour.  It very quickly occurred to me that if I didn’t get out of the car, at 18-wheeler would careen into the back of my little PT Cruiser convertible and smash me into a very tiny, but very adorable, Jennie sandwich.

Now I have to figure out how to 1) open the door and get out 2) move to the front of my car and then 3) cross two lanes of traffic 4) without dying.

Did I mention that I was wearing a dress? Did I mention that I was in six-inch stiletto heels?

So now, I’m teetering in front of my car in six inch stilettos with a needle-thin heel. About to cross one of the busiest freeways in Houston. At rush hour.

Fig. 1.5
Stilettos: Not cross trainers.

Have you ever run in stilettos across a busy freeway? Let me put it into perspective for you.  Put yourself on some stilts. Now get on a unicycle. Now juggle three grizzly bears. That should do it. Congratulations. You’ve just accomplished the equivalent of running in stilettos across 290.

This next part has a lot to do with the goodness of people and why I’m so thankful that I live in Houston because Texans are so friendly, so it’s basically boring and I’ll run through it pretty fast.

-Random lady offers me a cell phone, asks if I want her to stay with me. I do not want to be responsible for her death
-Very, very nice man who doesn’t speak any English pulls his car in front of mine, hooks up a tow chain, pulls my car off the road, pops the hood, points at a battery connector that is clearly not supposed to be covered in corrosion, fixed it, makes a very wide steering wheel motion that looks like a person playing the Daytona USA arcade game at Sports Page Skating Rink (if you don’t know about that, trust me, it’s cool), indicating that I can drive it
-I tell very, very nice man who doesn’t speak any English “Te Amo” and throw my arms around him
-Very, very nice man I’ve just pledged my love to drives away
-Car dies again
-Metropolitan Transit Authority guy knocks on my window

And I’ll pick up here.

MTA guy: What’s the problem?
Me: This is what I do on Thursday’s. I sit in my car on the shoulder of 290. You’re bothering me.
MTA guy (whose sense of humor is clearly not like mine):
Me: I’m kidding.
MTA guy: Pop the hood.

He looks at the battery, tells me it’s a bad connector, then tells me that IT COULD CATCH ON FIRE and then calls a tow truck for me. He stays behind me until the tow truck driver gets there.

I’ll pause here to let you know that he stayed with me for a couple of reasons, the first of those being that it’s probably his job, the last of those being that the area that my car stopped in isn’t exactly the best area of 290. It’s not horrible. But it’s not great. I mean, chances are you could get raped there, but probably not murdered. This plays a part in the conversation I’ll have with the tow truck driver in a little bit.  Another quick bit of information, Houston has the Safe and Clear program. If you break down on a freeway, a tow truck will come and take you to a safe place for free. Tow truck drivers apparently hate this.

And back to the story.

So the tow truck driver gets there, and he is very clearly not happy.

Tow Truck Guy: What’s wrong? It don’t work no more?
Me: It works fine. I just wanted to see you.
Tow Truck Guy (whose sense of humor, like the MTA guy, is not like mine):
Me: I’m kidding.

He tells me to get in the cab of the truck, hooks my car up, gets back in and asks where I want him to take me.

Me: I don’t know. Some place less rapey.
Tow Truck Guy (and I’m serious about this response): … that may be hard around here.
Tow Truck Guy:
Me: How much to take me to my apartment (which isn’t very far, by the way)
Tow Truck Guy: $100 cash. $145 if It’s a check.
Me: Apparently, you planned on raping me anyway.

And I immediately thought "that's probably going to bite me in the ass later." This is where I learned an important lesson: you never pop off to a tow truck guy responsible for taking you somewhere safe. Because apparently, “safe” is a relative word.

In the five minutes it took for him to get me to the gas station in the middle of murder town, I found out three things:

1)Tow Truck Guy hates doing  Safe and Clear tows.
Tow Truck Guy: I hate doing these safe and clear’s. We don’t make any money on them.
Me: Yeah. Sorry that my car died in the middle of one of the busiest freeways in Houston. And that I had to run across that freeway. And that I could have died. This must really be ruining your night.

2)Tow Truck Guy was fighting with his girlfriend.
Tow Truck Guy: Hello!
Cell Phone: ::Shrill screaming that can only be described as a noise that sounded like Rosie Perez had sex with Fran Drescher and they made a mutant baby that screamed all the time::
Tow Truck Guy: You know what?! Ima call you BACK. (and then he hangs up)

3) Tow Truck Guy stares at boobs. A lot.
I can’t really do any dialog for this. But here’s what it looked like.

Fig. 1.6
When in doubt, stare openly at a strange woman's boobs.

Then Tow Truck Guy dropped me off at TC Jester and 610 (not from Houston? TC Jester and 610 is less rapey than where I was. But more murdery. In his defense, he did exactly what I asked.)

My family came shortly after that and my father fixed my car.

Did you think this story was over? No. Almost. But not yet.
After my dad fixed the car, my family wanted to follow me home because they inexplicably love me. I wanted to go all the way down TC Jester, because it connects with a cross street near my apartment, and that way, if it died, I wouldn’t be on a freeway.

Here’s a very important fact: I am horrible with directions. I get lost all the time. I have left work, driven two blocks and accidentally gotten on a freeway that took me 20 miles away. I’ve been to my best friend’s house roughly eleventy-billion times. And 90 percent of the time I turn down the wrong street and it takes me fifteen minutes to figure it out. This kind of thing happens all the time. The really bad thing about this, is that I don’t usually think I’m wrong. So while I can admit that I’m bad with directions, (very, very bad. Like Moses leading folks through the desert for 40 years bad), I usually think I’m going the right way. That being said, I was very, very confident that I was supposed to turn left on TC Jester. So I did.

In my defense, my family knows better than to let me lead. Seriously. One of you guys needs to get me a GPS. Why hasn’t this happened yet?

We get about 20 minutes down the road (by the way, it should have taken about ten minutes, but I’m still 100 percent confident that I’ve made the right decision) and my brother says “where are we? I’m pretty sure those 15 year olds are doing a drug deal right there.”

Long story short, I took my family to Acres Home. Not from here? I Googled “Acres Home” to show you what comes up.

Fig. 1.7
Murdertown and Rapeville: 1, Jennie: 0

That’s right. I took my family to the most rapey and murdery part of Houston. With a car that had been randomly breaking down. Because let’s face it. If you want to test someone’s workmanship on a touch-and-go battery connecter, don’t you want to do that in one of the most dangerous parts of the city? At 9 at night? When there’s something at stake?

I know I do.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Worst date of All Time, Part 3: the Final Chapter

Part 3: Excuse me ma’am, but you have a marine creature on your face.

If you’ve missed the first or second part of the worst date of all time, you can read the first part here and the second part here.

If you want the short, short version, I was out on the worst date of all time with a man named Bodie (do not let his awesome name fool you into thinking he is actually awesome. that’s where I went horribly, horribly wrong) who lied about being blind, hated Digital Underground, didn’t know what the word ‘collection’ meant, forced me to see Harry Potter, texted his mother for four hours during our date, thinks Freemasons are a race of people, and still had time to judge me because I’m Catholic. Did I mention that he talked about samurai swords for an hour? Or that his favorite books were "elven novels"? Or that I was pretty sure that his mother was dead in his basement and he just talked to her anyway? By this point in the date, I was looking for a serial murderer who only serial murdered 34-year-old guys that lied about legally blind and collected samurai swords.

Fig. 1.1
"...and also, my mom's dead in the basement!"

That actually catches you up pretty accurately.

After Bodie told me that we would probably not be able to date very long because I was Catholic and “he was Freemason” (which is not a race) and Catholics hated Freemasons (they don’t), he asked me if I could drive him to Freebirds for dinner because he didn’t want to have to ask his mother when he got home. Which, I’m sure, is very thoughtful of him if you were his mother. But I wasn’t. And I was trying to make his head explode with mind waves like those things from the movie Scanners.

Mind explosions: Not as easy as they look

So I tell him that I’m not hungry, but I’ll drive him to get a burrito (which, by the way, is where he wanted to go even if I was hungry. If you are a dude and you are reading this right now, please listen to me when I say, unless under mutual consent, DO NOT TAKE YOUR FIRST DATE TO A BURRITO PLACE. UNLESS THAT BURRITO PLACE IS CONSIDERABLY MORE AWESOME THAN FREEBIRDS).

So we’re in the car, driving to Freebirds; I clearly have nothing else to say to him because he functions on a totally separate plane of existence than me. Like the plane of existence that George Clooney was operating on when he read the Batman and Robin script and said “it’s PERFECT!”

Fig. 1.2
"No really. It's PERFECT."

What I DO know, however, is that he is attempting to use the armrest in my car as a leveraging point to assault my hand.

So I’m driving with my left arm and my right arm crossed over my chest like I’m hand-delivering a leprosy patient to a leper colony when he thinks that now is as good a time as any to ask why I’m thwarting his romantic advances. (I assume that taking me to see a movie I didn’t want to see, talking about things I didn’t want to talk about, explaining that I hate a made up race of people because I’m Catholic and attempting to force me against my will on numerous occasions to hold his hand was Bodie’s attempt at a romantic advance.)

Bodie: Man, I’ve never had this much trouble getting someone to hold my hand.
Bodie: ...
Radio: (faintly) …Alright stop what you’re doin’ ‘cause I’m about to ruin the image and the style that you’re used to…
Bodie: I mean you haven’t held my hand all night!
Me: Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh heh. Yeah.

Yes. I sounded like a sickly lawnmower turning over. That’s what I sound like when I get nervous. Sue me. At least I don’t talk about fairies and elves and swords. And also, the best thing I could come up with was “yeah”. And regarding his claim that would lead a rational person to believe that he has been rewarded with much hand-holding on previous dates, my belief is that he either he tricked me on the serial murderer test and just cut hands off to hold them after he serial murdered short blond girls, or dated people that must have looked and acted something a little like Margaret McPoyle from It’s Always Sunny.

Fig. 1.3
People Bodie must normally date if he is not, in fact, a serial murderer.

Thankfully, we got to Freebirds in time for me to avoid another horrible question.

Bodie: Hey, mind if we eat here? I know you said you weren’t hungry, but maybe you can get a soda or something.
Me: Sounds awesome. (Note-this did not sound awesome. And my voice conveyed this sentiment)

So we’re standing in line. I decided to go ahead and get something while we were out, and that I would just pay for my own (because the very, very last thing I want is for him to have any false pretenses of possible future dates). He’s in front of me (of course he is. Because he’s a gentleman). He orders his food while I’m trying to decide what I want. When I get to the cashier to pay for mine, the sum seems too much. Like double.

I’ll break here to explain that I’m not a chemist or geophysicist or mathematician. When someone starts talking in numbers, I either just agree or fall into a narcoleptic coma because of the stress it requires to add and subtract. My math is actually pretty shaky, but one burrito bowl and one water does not equal almost $19.

Are you guessing what happened here? Have you been following the chain of events on his horrible, horrible date that, without fail, would have, of course, inevitably led me to pay for not only my meal, but the meal of my legally blind, unemployed, 34-year-old date who likes samurai swords, elven novels and Harry Potter and hates Digital Underground and Catholics?

When I realized what had just happened, I felt like someone had set me on imaginary fire. I wanted to run around violently, just punching and kicking and screaming and rolling.

Yes. Just like this.

I’m going to skip over the disgusting way he ate (it was like he just opened his mouth, threw burrito in that general direction and hoped he landed a good shot). I’m going to skip over the part where he begged me to meet his mother (and I had to say “I don’t meet moms on the first date, Bodie, sorry”). I’m going to skip the part where he was blatantly racist (and here I thought I was a bad person for being a Catholic that didn’t hate anyone at all). I’m just going to skip straight to the part where he assaulted my face with his face.

Somehow, after a very awkward 15 minute car ride (awkward on my part, not his. He was apparently completely comfortable), we made it to his mother’s. My purse was in the trunk of my car and, because I get pulled over with a fair amount of regularity, I like to have everything handy. So I got out of the car to retrieve said purse.

Bodie: Can I get a kiss?
Me: Nope.
Bodie: Really?
Me: Yep.
Bodie: Well can I at least have a hug?
Me: …If I give you a hug will you stop asking for physical contact?
Bodie: Promise.

Ok. Remember how in Part 2, I said that Bodie taught me two things, and that the first was to never worry about hurting the feelings of someone who lied to you about being legally blind?

The second thing I learned was never to trust that the person you’ve avoided contact with all night understands that you do not want their mouth anywhere near your face.

Bodie is tall, maybe 6’2” or so, and I’m about a foot shorter than that, so I was going in for a face-down-my-arms-under-his-quick-and-painless hug. I was even going to throw in a vigorous pat on the back like you do with people you don’t actually want to hug. This, to me, seemed to be an incognito way of throwing in some disguised violence.


I’m not a mean person. I don’t try to hurt people’s feelings. Actually, I tend to put myself out and have even been known to put myself in very uncomfortable situations (for me) to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. I once thought about marrying someone because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings with a break up. See? That level of crazy. So when I tell you this next part, I want you to keep all of that in mind.

I go in for the quick I-never-want-to-see-you-again hug, and that’s when my life flashed before my eyes and everything began to happen in slow motion.

His face was coming toward me. I was trying to duck out of the way. He has very long arms and I was definitely stuck in a weird wrestling (maybe samurai?) paralysis move that did not allow me to escape. In a brief flash, every atrocious moment of the previous four hours played in a terrible sepia-toned, horror movie strobe light in front of my eyes. Also in this movie, the walls are covered with blood and tears and spiders and clown faces.

We’ve all kissed someone that wasn’t necessarily a good kisser. This was beyond that. This was like someone threw a hot, wet octopus at my face. And then that octopus got stuck with all his little octopus suckers and refused to let go.

Fig. 1.4
Nightmarish creature of epic proportions attached to my face.

I summoned all of my strength (I had been working out. No big deal.) and pried his face off of my face, pushed him away and threatened to pepper spray him if he came within five feet of me ever again.

The next day I got a text that said “Hey hun. Sry about lst nite—ur just 2 cute! Maybe we can try agn sat?”

I did not try again Saturday.