It's not about the house.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Now Get Off of My Lawn!

The other night Dr. One Friend and I were at the bar of a local Mexican restaurant, sitting across from a particular type of girl. Dyed black hair done up like Veronica, paste-white foundation makeup, ironic plaid jumper-dress that was obviously fashioned to optimally display her barely-scabbed-over multi-color clavicle tattoo -- you know, that type of girl. To be honest, though, we didn't even notice her until she started telling the bartender about how her boyfriend was a "beer connoisseur." Beer happens to be one of my favorite things for someone to connoiss about, so I tuned my eavesdroppy ear her way. 

"You know," she said, sounding appropriately bored with her own self, "like, he's tried all different kinds from everywhere [sigh. how pedestrian]. And he says that the best is PBR."

For the not-quite-hip-enough out there, that would be Pabst Blue Ribbon. The Premium Beer at a Popular Price. And here is where I feel the need to interject a remembrance of my own. Well, not "my own," per se -- considering that I don't actually remember it myself -- but I was alive and physically present when it happened, so it counts.

You think I'm going to tell an "I got so fucked up on PBR" story now, don't you? Well, I'm not. When I was young and poor (as opposed to old and poor, which I am now) we drank Glacier Bay, Schaeffer, Black Label or Naragansett. We paid $6 a case -- which back then meant 24 bottles, not 12 -- and we liked it. Which doesn't mean we were stupid enough to pretend it tasted good. As soon as we could afford something else, we did. First Michelob, then Sam Adams, then infinity and beyond. So no, the only PBR story I have is not about me at all.

For some years around the time that I was born, my grandfather (my dad's dad) owned a bar. This was in the late '60s, early '70s. Times were tough enough in those days as it was, plus Mom couldn't work because she was at home with three babies under 3 years old, so Dad took the occasional night shift at Grampy's bar. I imagine it was hard for Mom to be home alone all day and all night with us three little screamers, but it was better than not being able to pay the rent. Still, though, she must have looked forward to his coming home each night at closing time. She must have stayed awake, or roused herself, for the chance at an hour or so of adult conversation.

One night, instead of hearing him quietly tiptoe in, she heard what sounded like a raccoon scrabbling at the door. Creeping out of bed and listening closer, she heard him drop his keys in the hallway, giggle, and mutter incoherently as he tried to pick them up. She opened the door and he all but fell into her arms.

"Jesus Christ, Husband!" she exclaimed. "What did you do?"

"I was pushing the Pab-iss-tuh."

It seems there'd been a brewery salesman in the bar, who told Dad that for every Pabst Blue Ribbon he sold to a customer he could have one for himself. This is what passed for viral marketing back in the day, and let me tell you: it worked. Dad sold a lot of PBR that night. So much that he could no longer pronounce it, and his over-enunciation has been code word for "drunk" in my family ever since. At my brother's wedding, for example, even though I stuck to Guinness until my cousins started buying me shots of Jameson's, the real reason I puked strawberry soup all over my bridesmaid dress was that I'd been pushing the Pab-iss-tuh.

So, in conclusion: no, Veronica. Your boyfriend is not a beer connoisseur. Your boyfriend is a Fucking Hipster who has been sold a bucket of piss by a Very, Very Clever brand manager who knew just exactly how to take advantage of people like you in today's "post-advertising" marketplace -- just like that salesman did to my dad and his customers back when people used to actually work for a living. 

And come to think of it, if you've got a douche like that for a boyfriend, then that makes you a Fucking Hipster, too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oldies But Goodies

today The House and I presents a Very Special Episode...

Things That Happened Forty Years Ago

1.  Pow!

A bunch of redneck motherfuckers yippeekiyayed into space and brought back the rocks to prove it. And then seven years ago, this happened...

... proving they've still got 'em.

2. Whoops!

A bunch of sociopathic idiots failed to set off the Great Race War as was their destiny because they couldn't spell "Helter" correctly even though they'd been studying it off the goddamn album-sleeve for months.

3. Ta-Da!

Three days of music and love culminated in a very bouncy, very choreographed, very gold-lamé-draped performance! Then the show was closed by a very solemn rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and everyone went home feeling very nostalgic for the 1950s.

4. Brilliant!

Some confederate jackass got shot in the arm by his own men and died in a plantation office that Johnny and I have actually been to because said confederate jackass was born in Ireland and is therefore something of a hometown, friendly-fire hero.

What? Oh. Sorry. Wrong Stonewall.

5. Waah!

A whole buncha bald, slimy, prickly, fuzzy babies were being born...

...and this scary bitch was one of 'em.

Well, that picture was taken fifteen years ago, so that scary bitch was technically twenty-five. But she doesn't see any reason to update the image. She got a new driver's license picture taken yesterday, and that's more than enough photographic evidence of the aging process for one decade.

If you or someone you love is turning forty, please know that there is help out there. Call your local Directory Assistance, or look in the yellow pages under "Taverns" or "Package Stores." Trained professionals at these facilities can tell you how to let your loved ones know they're not alone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Guess-Whats

Guess what!?

Baby mocking birds!

I know the picture's fuzzy, because I took it from inside through the window screen. And because I had to crop it and enlarge it. And because, well, baby birds are fuzzy after all. But I swear to god, look: baby mocking birds!

Mama MB brings them down and parks them in the pussy willow every morning, and they sit there cheeeep-cheeeeping all day (they sound like a rusty hinge) while she brings them bug after bug after bug after bug. Johnny has had to abandon his garden for the time being, because it's right next to the pussy willow and that Mocking Lady is one bear of a mama. She chased Johnny, squawking, clear around the house (I meant she was squawking, but really they kind of both were), and when they got to the front he found his nuts and told her he was going to keep this six square feet of his own yard, thank you very much. She allowed as how that just might be okay, if he promised to fuck off every hour or so to let her pick up all the bugs he had unearthed.

Want to know a terrible family secret? My grandfather actually killed a mockingbird one time. It was a broody Mrs just like this one, and she was attacking my great-grandmother -- his 80-year-old mother -- in the yard for the same reason. Great-grammy couldn't run fast enough to get away, and she was bleeding and screaming, so Grampy ran over and swatted it off her and he probably broke her neck or something cuz she died. The bird, that is. My great-grammy lived for a whole bunch more years. Grampy felt so terrible about it, though, he cried. My mother saw him.

His tears did nothing to stop the juju coming down, which I believe afflicts me to this day, but the thought of them do make me badger Johnny every morning: "Don't you dare raise a pinky to that bird or you'll be sorry!" Not that he ever would. Not even if she came for me. Probably not even if I bled and screamed.

Guess what else?

I got the drawer open!

Know how? I pulled the handle really-really hard.


See, I used the last check in my register last week sometime, and yesterday I had a bill I had to pay. The new checks were stuck in the drawer, so I had no choice but to try a new approach (a new approach besides ignoring the problem, that is to say). So I got down on my knees on the floor, took out the drawers above and below the stuck one, and just sort of puzzled the whole thing over for a moment. Then I thought "I don't feel like doing this. Why doesn't it work if I just give it one good WHOA!" And fell over backwards with the no-longer-stuck drawer in my lap.

I don't know. It's not like I didn't give it a whole bunch of good pulls the last time I went through this. And a couple decent kicks to boot.

Guess what else?

I honestly don't know why, but Johnny wanted me to show you this:

It's the peels and ends and leaves and middles off a half a pound of celery. I peeled a half a pound of celery and broke it up for snacks for Someone I Love Dearly Who Is Really Very Ill. I brought the celery ends-'n'-things home in a bag for Johnny as a sort of half a joke, saying they were for him to boil up in stock.

I say "half" a joke because I knew that -- while I was indeed joking -- he would in fact find some good use for them. And I was right. He washed and soaked the lot, gave one really good leafy bit to Girl Cat, and threw the rest in the bottom of a baking dish to throw a casserole on top of. And I guess he thought that base-layer looked purdy enough to commemorate.

Guess what else?

I have to go to the RMV tomorrow.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ten Things To Fight About Instead of Fighting About Money

1. Money

2. Dinner.

If you try hard enough, you can find a new way to do this every night. Try taking turns reading from the following list!
Sunday: This pork roast is freezer burned and somehow that’s your fault.
Monday: Why are you defrosting hamburgers when there’s leftover pork in the fridge?
Tuesday: I don’t want tofu but I didn’t see the need to mention that before we went and bought and prepared all the ingredients to go with it!
Wednesday: This soup has gone sour and somehow that’s your fault.
Thursday: Nothing. Just get drunk and skip dinner.
Friday: There’s too much food being cooked in this house!
Saturday: Leftovers.

3. Which one of you has never ever not once folded and put away so much as a single t-shirt in all the years you’ve known each other.

4. Yes, as a matter of fact I have changed the cat box, and maybe it’s your own ass you’re smelling.

5. No, as a matter of fact I lied about the cat box. We don’t have any litter and somehow that’s your fault.

6. Money.

7. Do you really have to water the garden just because we’ve had 36 consecutive hours without rain for the first time in a month?
(I’m not saying who’s on which side of this one, but I will say that it is also secretly a fight about money. We spent $60 putting that garden in and it has so far yielded a single green tomato. In addition, we pay MWRA water/sewer rates, which add up to almost $100/month when we’re watering a garden. This is never worth it, but it is even less so when it’s been raining for a month and we’re watering a single green tomato. I’m still not saying who’s on which side of this, though. Ahem.)

8. Will you please leave me alone so I can get some work done?

9. Why don’t you ever pay attention to me any more?

10. Money. We don’t have any and somehow that’s your fault.

And bonus #11:
Where do you think you’re going?

Friday, July 17, 2009

I've Had A couple Beers

I figured I might's well come right out and say it. Because things are going to get pretty weird around here pretty fast, and I didn't want any of you to sit around there wondering to yourselves (or each other, if the series of tubes still works the way I think it does) "Hey, do you think EGE has had a couple beers?" The answer is yes, all right? And I know it's only Thursday. And also yes, or rather no, it is not yet five o'clock. So what? No sense making a great big stinking federal Soto-major case out of it. Let's just all hold hands and move on from here, shall we? Ready steady go!

Although I'll understand if you don't want to touch me. I am a little sticky, after all.

I'm drunk because -- well, actually, I feel the need to emphasize I'm not drunk yet. It takes more than two IPAs to fell this horse. But by the time I'm done writing I sure expect to be, so let's just take that as the premise and move on. Again. Ready? Steady go!

I'm drunk because I just heard on the radio that Johnny's about to lose his health insurance. Know why? He weren't borned here. Little Miss Massachusetts, who decided to show the nation she knew what was what, passed this Health Care For Everybody law a couple years ago. "You must sign up," she said, "or else we'll charge you fines." So we signed up.

That's a lie. Dang this vino veritas. Or beero. Or whatever. The point is we were both already on the books somewhere as charity cases -- Free Care, they called it. Johnny learned about this loophole from his doctor back in the days he was illegal, and although I was never the type to see a doctor about anything, when we bought this house I stepped on three rusty nails in quick succession, and Johnny quickly inculcated me.

Inculcate? Is that the word? Hang on. Merriam-Webster: "inculcate - to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions." Eh, what the fuck. It's close enough.

So we were on the Free Care books already, but when they said everybody had to sign up for insurance or be fined, we both signed up.

And lordy knows I don't mean to complain. Free Care is Free Care, no matter what they call it. I, personally, have still not seen a doctor since 2006 -- or 5, or whenever it was I had this damn IUD put in (that's my own fault, and has nothing to do with this Health Care Gripe whatsoever, and if you feel the need to scold me you can do it to my email) -- but we've both seen our share of dentists, and we've only had to charge the worst of that to Visa, who is very understanding as long as we keep sending them $92 a month.

Oh, and speaking of monthly payments.

Our signed-up-for, poor-people, mandated health insurance that we had was flat-out free for the first couple years. Or however long it was. I don't remember now. And I don't feel like looking through my files at this moment (which I do have, thank you very much) because I'm a little drunk. But it was free-free-free until three months ago, at which point we started getting bills.

They were small -- $29.55 a month for each of us -- but nobody told us we were going to get them (give me another beer or two and I'll say "gonna" like I always want to). When the first bill came, I went back through the correspondence and found a line in a letter that said something to the effect of "you may be charged," but it was otherwise the same letter we'd had the other years. And I'm sorry, but I don't imagine I'm the only person who does not scrutinize these things.

Let me reriterate (ha. I actually spelled that wrong as a joke, because it's the way I pronounced it when I said it out loud (yes, I sometimes write out loud and just transcribe my ramblings), but the spellcheck didn't catch it. Spellcheck doesn't like "spellcheck" but reriterate is fine. Maybe Mr. Spellcheck himself has had a few.) So what was I reriterating? Oh: I do not begrudge the state the $60. We didn't have it, but we were figuring it out. And I was actually pleased to get to pay something, because I don't like the idea of being a charity case. Neither of us do. We feel more like people for having been given the privilege of paying for it, as little as we pay.

And then this happened:

The bill that came this month was for $6.89. Two bills for that, one bill for each of us; $13.78 all told (I did that in my head; are you impressed? Is it right?). I thought the bill had to be wrong. I thought they thought I hadn't paid the full $60 last month. I called them. I was put through a phone-system-hell I won't subject you to right here except to say I wound up in tears wiith the operator, and when I finally spoke to the right person, she said:

"Yes. The costs have been lowered in your area, and that is your new monthly bill."

Well, imagine how pleased I was! I still get to pay and feel good about myself for that, and I still get to shave my legs!

(The joke there was that I'd given up razors, see, for the sake of health insurance? Except that's dumb. Because I hadn't. Even if I had, I am not so hairy that it costs me twenty dollars a month in razor blades. I may be Albanian, but please.)

So that was I think on Tuesday, and then this afternoon on my way home I heard this.

And so I started thinking: Why did they lower our bill if they can't afford us in the first place? Not that the $23 difference would make a difference, but still. How am I going to carry on not seeing a doctor (which is what I do) while Johnny can't see a doctor (which is what he does)? Are we finally, like we've always talked about, going to move home? And for "home" in this situation, you should read "261." The house Johnny was literally born in, in Dublin. Will we go home?

{{This is the point at which I gave up and went to bed. That's not quite as bad as it sounds, because it took me three hours -- and eight beers -- to get this far, so it was almost 9:00. Past my bedtime on some sober nights, I tell you what.}}

I woke up this morning -- with a headache, and weighing five pounds less than I did yesterday -- and did some googling. It turns out I overreacted. The New York Times says they're only gunning for those who've had their green cards for five years or less. Johnny has had his since 199something-I-would-look-up-if-he-were-awake-or-if-I-weren't-so-jesus-christ-hungover.

So phew. They're not coming for us. This time...

So I guess I went and got all drunk for nothing.

Update: The mail came today with an official-looking envelope from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Revenue. I made Johnny sit with me while I opened it, because I'm tired of having to deal with bad news by myself. It turned out to be a check for $332 -- about three-quarters of the amount we paid the state in taxes this year. Apparently, they've decided they don't need our money. I guess we qualify for a "Limited Income Credit" that we didn't know about and didn't claim, so they're giving us a rebate. This is nice. It means we'll be able to pay our mortgage this month after all. But still. Something very strange is in the air.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Say We Go Get the M'F'er!

Oh, man, am I the only one bored to beers with this Car Battery fiasco? The nice thing about writing it instead of living it (or, for that matter, reading it), is that you have the power to speed it up.

Everybody ready? Okay set go!

Johnny tried to take the dead battery out of the car and replace it with the one he charged, but he couldn’t get the old one out because he’s not a mechanic and he didn’t have the proper tool, so instead he hauled the charger out on an extension cord and hooked it up to the dead one. He left it out there for freaking hours, and when it started to rain I unplugged and disconnected everything and closed the hood and hauled the charger in the house. The next morning I didn’t feel like dealing with anything so when Chuck (TFT) miraculously started I went ahead and drove him where I had to go, and at the end of the day he started again and brought me home.


Maybe all he needed was to know I would buy him a new battery if he asked for it? Maybe he didn’t really need a new one after all?

No. Bad idea. Because the next day Johnny had a dentist appointment and my Lady’s cat had to go to the vet, and while these things could be accomplished sans a car, they’d be ever so much easier avec one, and they’d be ruined all together if Chuck (TFT) up and died en route, so I called AAA at 8:00 a.m., figuring I’d have my battery by nine.

I did, too. Technically. It was right there on the ground in my driveway for about an hour while the AAA guy (who was really more of an aaa kid) fiddled with the bolt and hemmed and hawed and stared at it and I sat in the shotgun seat reading Vanity Fair until finally the aaa kid said the bolt was rusty, he couldn’t get it off, and he was not allowed to break it because of liability with AAA and blah blah.

I said “I’ll break it! What do I need? A hammer? A flathead screwdriver? A rubber mallet? Hang on, I’ll go get all those things and come right back and bash it for you POW!”

“Well, no,” the aaa kid said. “Actually, if you had the right tool to unscrew it, it would probably just break. That bolt’s hexagonal, see, and my ratchet set is round.”

Oh. So what you meant to say was not “the bolt is rusty” but rather “I came to your house specifically to replace your battery and I didn’t bring my battery-replacing tool.”

(There’s a joke here to be made about battery-replacing tools, but the aaa kid is not the butt of it. After all, he’d have to actually replace a battery to qualify.)

So we said we’d just take the battery, then, and figure out how to get it in ourselves, but aaa kid said he couldn’t sell us the new battery without taking away the old one, so we had aaa kid give Chuck (TFT) a jumpstart, and then just left him running for the rest of the day.

You think I’m kidding? I am not. Well, I am sort of. That was at 10:00 a.m, and I did not shut Chuck (TFT) off again till nearly 2:00. I dropped Johnny at his dentist, picked up my Lady’s cat, left the car running while we were in the vet’s office, dropped him off, picked up Johnny, stayed in the running car while he ran into one store, left him in it while I ran in another, risked explosion by getting a quick $10 worth of gas with a combusting engine (the better to let it keep running for hours if need be in the driveway), then went home, sat down at my computer, and completely forgot there was something I was supposed to do.

Car started the next morning, so I took it to work again and, on another wish-and-prayer, got home. Then we called George. George showed up after work with the proper ratchet set, loosened the bolt in a whopping seven seconds, and said “Okay, where’s the battery?” I said “Oh, George, they wouldn’t sell us the battery, we just need you to loosen the bolt.” He said “Amateurs,” got back in his car, and went home. I’m pretty sure he was talking about aaa kid.

We waited till the next morning (this is Friday now; the car first died on Sunday) to call AAA again. I don’t know why. I almost went to the Auto Parts store and bought one and put it in myself, but in the end we decided that since I fuck up absolutely everything I touch, I’d better not. I’d get the wrong one and lose the receipt, or I’d get the right one and it would explode. In fact, just to be double-sure, I made Johnny be the one to stand in the driveway with the AAA guy this time.

Johnny says that this AAA guy (the third in this ordeal, plus George) said “Jesus, I would’ve just broke the fuckin’ thing. Kid must’ve been new on the job.”

Which is nice and everything, and it’s done now so I don’t mean to complain, but you see, AAA Guy #3, the point is not whether you would have had the balls to break the bolt. The point is the bolt did not need breaking. The point is all we ever needed was the proper tool.

There's still a tool joke to be made here. I know there is. Even if, after 1000 words, I still can't find it. One thing is certain, though:

It isn't George.

Here is where I would put a picture of George if I had one, and let you make your own decisions about whether it was worth a thousand words. But I don't have a picture of George. George has such inherent dignity about him, it always feels like too much of an intrusion to ask him if he minds. So instead I give you this:

Poop, two ways. 

T'ain't nuthin' dignified about that shit.

Right, Chuck (TFT)?

Whoops. Sorry. Make it three.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sunday Morning, Coming Down

So anyway Chuck (TFT) needs a battery, and I told him he could have one, but if he doesn’t live long enough to justify it I’m gonna rip it out and feed it to him while he dies.

That decision was made, though, on a Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. And battery-seller-and-installed-places aren’t open on a Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. Or if they are, I didn’t know about it -- or care on Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. -- because I’d already spent two hours writing, then driven a half-hour to Beacon Hill, fed a cat, had the car die, called ZZZ (ha! that was a typo but I’m leaving it), gotten a jump start, had a conversation with an overly cheerful ZZZ guy and driven a half-hour back, and it was Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m.

So I went home.

Now, it just so happens ZZZ will bring a battery to you, and install it for no charge (well, they charge for the battery but not the installation). I would have had the first guy do it right then and there, except that what I'd called for was a tow, so he didn't happen to have the battery I needed with him at the moment. That, plus I was not yet convinced that Chuck (TFT) was deserving of a new one. But halfway home I decided that he did, so I figured I'd call ZZZ back and let a different ZZZ guy do his grease-work in my driveway, while I lounged in my pjs eating bon-bons and reading the copy of the Sunday Times I’d stolen from my Lady’s cat.

I didn’t really lounge. And I didn’t really ever make that call to AAA. I’m not entirely sure what I did do with the rest of the day, but somehow it just never—oh! My dad came for lunch and took the dog away for now. Bye Charlie! See you soon!

After they left, though, Johnny and I had some sort of disagreement about Chuck (TFT). We do try not to fight in front of him if we can help it. We don’t want to mislead him into thinking that we care. But I believe we were still in the yard when this argument happened, and it’s going to take some serious mental gymnastics for me to remember what it might have been about. Let’s see…

Johnny wanted to call George. I said for a battery? He said it might not be the battery, it might be a shorting out of something enginey that drained the battery. I said I was pretty sure it was the battery. He said was I a mechanic? And I said no. But my father was a mechanic. His father was a mechanic. My mother’s father was a mechanic, my three brothers are mechanics, four uncles on my fathers side...

Really what I said was something unprintably rude.

I never did call AAA.

And Johnny never did call good old George.

*          *            *

The next morning, I was counting on blind luck and stupid happenstance to get old Chuck (TFT) started, but it didn’t happen. I went out and turned the key and nothing. No click-click-click, no groaning, not so much as a fiddler’s fairy fart. Naturally, then, I stormed back in the house to yell at Johnny.

“I wish you had called George yesterday like you said you were going to do!”

“You told me not to call George!”

“Yeah! Well! Now I have to take the bus!”

I slammed the door on my way out, just to make sure he knew he was wrong.

Normally I don’t drive into work, but that day I had to go to Cambridge on my way. Now that I was carless, then, my commute looked like this: walk to bus stop (not far), bus to train, train to Cambridge, walk to where I had to go (very far), walk back to train (very far), train to Beacon Hill, walk to work (not far), walk back to train (not far), train to bus, bus to bus stop, and walk home. Needless to say, I was in a fabulous mood when I arrived.

Again, I don't remember what we fought about that night. I do recall Johnny saying he’d been “dealing with this shit all day” to which I answered “what? what exactly did you do all day?” and he said “I made phone calls!”

I know. Right?

Although this is not altogether fair. He’d also been charging batteries. It’s too complicated to explain why we had an old-but-possibly-still-good car battery in the basement, as well as a car-battery charger, but suffice to say Johnny spent all day charging that old battery. A job which consisted of plugging it in and waiting for six hours.

Then, after we shouted at each other, he went to put that battery in the car to see if it took the charge, but he couldn’t get the old battery out. Which meant it was his turn to storm in the house and yell.

“I’ve had enough!” he said. “I’m going for a pint! This is your deal, it isn't mine!”

And I said “Oh no it’s not! There has to be at least one thing around here that’s your deal!”

I know. Right?

I’m pleased to report that Johnny did make it home from the pub in one piece at some point. Although he slept propped up in the yellow chair all night.

Ooh! Remind me to tell y'all about the yellow chair! 

To Be Continued…

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rage, Rage!

Remember that whole thing about making mirth out of misery? Well, I did it. I remembered how it's done, and I sat down, and I did it. I spent three freaking hours writing a (if I do say so myself) hysterical (three-paged, single-spaced in Word) blog post about how poor old Chuck (TFT) is not long for this world.

You remember poor old Chuck (TFT), right?

Yeah, I wrote this whole thing about how he has bursitis in his rack & pinion. His belts groan at the indignity of being waked up in the morning. He growls in places where he's supposed to purr. And, worst of all, he's got no giddyup left in his tranny.

I said, when I wrote before, that it's the tranny that has us bracing for the knacker. If it weren't for that, we might have fixed the other things. But we don't see any sense in throwing $400 down the steering mechanism only to have him give up the ghost the next day. Hell, I've only been putting $20 of gas in at a time, so as to not risk wasting the price of a entire tank. No, we're just wobbling, squealing, groaning and not-giddyupping, holding our breath and waiting with white knuckles for some big thing to go POW.

I went on to say I think his starter motor might be stopping, too. For a couple months he's been making that grinding noise every time I crank him up. You know that grinding noise your car makes when you forget it's already running and you try to turn the key? (Your car, which is obviously quieter than my car, who would not for one coughing, groaning, squealing second let me forget that he was on.) Poor old Chuck (TFT) has been grinding like that every time.

I explained that I haven't been worrying about the starter motor, though, because to do so seemed a bit like Sundance hanging off the Canyon edge and saying "I can't swim!" It's the tranny seizing on the expressway that's gonna kill us.

(I added a parenthetical in here somewhere about how I didn't know why I kept  saying "tranny" instead of "transmission." And how I thought I might be trying to pass for a nuts-adjusting townie. Or a nuts-adjusting Chinatown whore. One of those.)

I went on to say how I drove into Beacon Hill on Sunday morning to feed my Lady's cat (she was in the hospital; she's home now; I'll tell her you were asking), and when I came back out and turned the key, all Chuck (TFT) would say was click-click-click. I assumed the starter motor blew, and I didn't know whether to have him towed to a service station or a junkyard, so I decided to get him towed to my house. I have AAA plus, which gives me a 100-mile towing radius and unlimited service calls, so I figured I'd get a ride home with the AAA guy, talk to Johnny, talk to George, and then decide.

Smart, huh?

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention again that Dennis from D&D towing was The Nicest AAA Guy in the World. He showed up all full of smiles and sweetness and light, towing rays of sunshine and baskets of puppies. Well, I'm lying about the puppies, but you know. He asked me what was going on, I told him about the click-click-click, and he said "The question is: do you want to be towed?"

I said "Oh, yes. I want to be towed to my house, please."

And he said "No, I mean, pretend I have a magic wand and I can wave it and fix your car: Do you want to be towed?"

I said "Oh! Yes! I mean no! Can you -- you can fix it? Yes! Fix it, please! I don't want to be towed!"

And he pulled out the jumper cables.

That's when I remembered the reason a car makes click-click-click noises instead of starting: because you left your headlights on again and killed your battery. And by "you" this time, I did mean "me." There was a time (okay, a couple decades) when if I drove at dusk or in a rainstorm, there was pretty much a 50/50 chance I'd leave the lights on. Haven't done it in a while, though. And this time I knew I hadn't! Because first of all, it was light out, and for a change it wasn't raining, so I didn't even have my headlights on. Second, I was only in there for five minutes, so even if they had been on it shouldn't matter. And third, the reason I haven't left my lights on in a while is because Chuck (TFT) ding-ding-dings his little heart out at me when I try to hightail it without tucking him properly into bed.

Poor old Chuck (TFT).

Well. Like I said. AAA guy explained that batteries don't last forever. He asked me how old this one was and I said "um..." He said yeah, that wasn't a good sign, and how long did I think I had the car? I said "Four years!" Which I totally made up, but I was too embarrassed to admit I didn't know that answer either. Hell, I thought Chuck (TFT) was a '96 until I happened to lay eyes on his insurance policy the other day and discovered him to be a '95. That was embarrassing. When I called for the road service I said to the AAA dispatcher "95 -- no, '96 -- I'm not quite sure, to be honest." But at least I got the make and model right. I used to always say "You know, the kind that's like a Dodge Caravan, but it's not a Dodge Caravan?" Dispatcher would venture "Plymouth Voyager?" and I'd Lucy Van Pelt his unsuspecting ass: "THAT'S IT!!!!"

So. What did I say next? Oh.

I said that this was still a decision to be made, but less of one. A battery only costs a hundred dollars, give or take. We didn't have it, but it did seem ridiculous to junk the car for want of a battery when old Chuck (TFT) might have a whole three or four dozen miles left in his tired tranny.

Okay, Chuck (TFT) (I wrote), I'll give you this one. But if I spend a hundred dollars I don't have and then you up and die on me, I'm going to rip that beating battery out and make you eat it while you do.

And then I ended it like this:

To be continued...

So I wrote all that stuff, only it was better, because when I wrote it the first time I hadn't already spent three hours writing it and had not yet been forced to realize my entire day was shot and I wouldn't have a chance to work on the other thing because it's 6:00 now and I'm still not done with this one. I wrote it all, edited it, it was perfect. And then...

You know how, when you get old (which I will be in two weeks and two days; Very Old), you sometimes get up and go in the other room and then you stand there, still feeling the momentum, the urgency, of your forward motion, and yet groping around vainly in your brainspace for it's cause? You find yourself standing before the open refrigerator, say, with no clue what you went in for. You're not even hungry! And why is there a jar of pickles in your hand!?

Well, I did that, only on the computer. I wrote the entire three-page, three-hour post in Microsoft Word, I hit ctrl-a to select all, I hit ctrl-c to copy, I clicked over to Firefox... then I read Beardonaut's blog, a few things on Slate, the new Miss Manners, and then decided I had noodled around on the web Long Enough and it was time to get my brainspace back to work. I clicked on Word, opened my MASTER DOCUMENT, and closed the unsaved, untitled, three-page, single-spaced one in my way. It asked me did I want to save it first, and I said "Why bother? It's already on the web!"

Seriously, people? Not till I decided to see if anyone had left a comment yet did I discover I had never posted. And then I screamed so loud I hurt my throat.

I sat here at my desk saying "I can't do it again! I won't do it again! I'm not going to!" Then I ate a big fat piece of toast with piles of cream cheese, felt marginally better, and remembered that the lost document was but the first part of a multi-parter. And it was funny. Miserable. But what a hoot.

So I sat down and spent three more hours doing it all again.

Tomorrow's supposed to be twice as long as today, though, right? So I ought to be able to get myself all caught up.

I finished this at 6:48 p.m. We're having pork chops for dinner. Johnny's cooking them. I'm going to go sit on the couch and read about Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Told You!

I told you I was going to ask QC a question, and I did, and she answered! (Not such an exclamation-pointy achievement, considering she said she'd answer everyone, but still. Quinn Cummings!)


I linked to her book already, but in case you weren't paying attention you can find it here.

So here's our gig:

EGE: The Goodbye Girl is one of my husband's favorite movies. So even though I understand about the thirty-years ago annoyance, I asked him if he had anything he might want to know. I braced myself for all kinds of teenaged-boy crushy-gaggy stuff I might not want to know about him (forgetting, for an instant, that teenaged boys are not the audience for Tiger Beat), but what he said was "Ask her what kind of guitar Dreyfuss was playing." So my question is...

Why did I marry a musician?

QC Says: You married a musician for the same reason it turns out my life-partner is a tech-guy. Because we find passionate driven people more interesting than the other kind and also we're working through unfinished business.

Me again. I was really supposed to be asking a question about her, but I went and got all me-centric as usual. Thanks, QC, for being a good sport and playing along. Now everyone go out and buy her book!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Feather Will Do Well For Such a Shift

Someone recently reminded me of the therapeutic, life-altering value of turning misery into a funny story. And no, it wasn’t this guy:

Although, you know, bully for him. May he do whatever it is politicians from Minnesota do (besides get beat by wrestlers and other show-biz types), and may I be the last to make a Stuart Smalley joke at his expense. Even if Stuart Smalley himself knows I won't be.

It wasn’t this guy, either:

My Vanity Fair did arrive minutes afterwards, however, so it’s possible to make the argument that this time, at least, ol' Mavericky could have been a real contender. It would be specious, of course, but possible. (No, no, Sarah. I said specious, not spacious. It’s okay, you can have somebody look it up. Ooh, and ask them to read you the difference between “quitting” and “not quitting” while you’re at it, okay? Good.)

And since I seem to be on a theme here of week-old political humor, I might as well go ahead and point out that it wasn’t this guy either:

But good on you, sir. Not since “going postal” have I so enjoyed watching a colloquialism take shape before my eyes. Now shoo. Go hike yourself the Appalachian Trail.

And last but not least, It wasn't this guy:

He's too dumb to know that just because he can see the coffee through the plastic cup, doesn't mean he can get his face in there to taste it. He sure as heck wouldn't have anything to offer in the way of life-lessons -- at least none that don't involve killing things or reproducing. Hm. Maybe I should change his name to Maverick.

Anyhoodles, it was this guy:

He says I've been narky lately. And he says he knows I have good reasons, but he's getting fed up, and if I don't snap out of it he might just go home to Ireland for a couple weeks and leave me here to be narky at the walls. This frightened me, because one of the myriad things I'm narky about these days is money, and although for one second I thought to myself "Ha. You probably aren't capable of booking your own ticket!," I then remembered that he actually traveled a whole lot before we met (another thing I'm narky about is having to do everything around here; which maybe I could loosen up on a little bit), and he now had his very own American Express Card.

AmEx ain't like Visa, where you can charge it and pay two cents every thirty days until you die. And it ain't like cash, where you have to have it now. AmEx is a promise that you're gonna have it next month, which we won't.

Honey! I love you! I'm sorry! I'm not narky anymore! Look, I'm going in my office right this second to write a funny story about misery!

But first I'm going over here and ask QC a question, because I've been waiting two years to read her freaking book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Telephone Conversation I Had With My Football Buddy Yesterday

"No more buggies, Auntie Erin!"

"At the grocery store?"

"No! At pre-K!"

"Ooh! Does that mean you're a bigger girl now?"


"Does that mean you're bigger?"

flatly. losing interest.


"Okay... So, um, what do you use instead?"


"They're black."  

obviously thinks I'm stupid.

"The buggies are black?"


"Ooh, that's chic!"

"No. That's just silly, Auntie Erin. You can talk to Mommy now."

Then, heard shouted from the distance after Mommy takes the phone:

"They're called LICE, Auntie Erin!"

Ah, buggies. 

My head itches.