Nocturnal Baggage

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When you’re royalty, is it predestined you must have a separate bedroom from your spouse, or is that only what TV and movies are showing me?

I started watching The Crown last night (yes, I am four years late to the party) and I noticed something I’ve seen before. Despite being shown throughout the pilot episode that King George and his daughter Princess Elizabeth adore their spouses, they have seperate bedrooms from them. We see George ease himself out of bed at least twice but Queen Elizabeth the First isn’t anywhere to be seen.

Then, George awakens a naked Duke Philip by barging into the Duke’s bedroom without knocking to go duck hunting (this is a ridiculous sentence). Princess Elizabeth is nowhere to be found. I’m assuming the King wouldn’t have Chuck Norris-ed the bedroom door if he knew there would be a chance his daughter would be in there. So, either these women are early risers or they have seperate bedrooms from their spouses, whom they claim to adore.

“Why would they sleep separately from their spouse if they keep talking about how much they love them,” I wonder from my couch, brownie crumbs sprinkled across my chest. “How frigid is the old school Royal Family?”

Googling tells me that yes, they indeed have seperate bedrooms due to a royal tradition. Isn’t that crazy? Their lives are so regimented they’re told how to sleep. And that made me think about my sleeping traditions.

My sleeping tradition is throwing elbows when my boyfriend is snoring.

He’s a kind man and doesn’t deserve this. But when I hear snoring, something feral in me takes over and I go apeshit.

Snoring is literally a trigger for me. Every time my current partner snores, I tense up. I’m propelled back into my past, from our apartment in Chicago to a townhouse in Seattle. I’m living with an alcoholic, who choked on his own Jameson-infused tongue nightly, causing bear hibernation snoring that cut through walls and closed doors to where I laid on the couch for the five hundredth time. Back then, furious and feeling trapped, I would try to sleep as the walls rattled around me rather than deal with the obvious problem: I was dating an alcoholic.

Today, snoring is something I cannot fucking stand not only because it is one of the worst sounds in the world, but it reminds me of a shit time in my life. But have I woken up every time my non-alcoholic boyfriend has snored? Probably not. There’s a good chance there have been times when my current boyfriend’s snoring away next to me, making sounds like an excavator scraping gravel off a street and I’m sound asleep next to him. But other times, when my mind is whirling and I’m fighting to fall asleep and I hear even the slightest rattle of breath, I snap. I yell or dig an elbow into him to make it stop. I bring up my anger from the past and dump all it over my present.

Once, I over reacted to his snoring. And it wasn’t even that bad that night, just a bunch of off-beat muffled snorts. But my mind was chewing on other problems, but instead of trying to solve those or put them aside tell morning, I decided to take it out on his open mouth breathing.

After screaming his name a dozen times and a few pokes with my pointy ass elbow, he lunged out of bed without a word and disappeared into the night. I heard him flop into the guest bed. My mouth formed a silent O.

I was not expecting that reaction. For some reason, I expected him to sleep through my shouts and jabs. I forgot that this is a sleeping man, not a dead man.

“Fine,” I thought, glaring into my solitary darkness that only a minute go held the breath of someone I loved. “Sleep in there. I do that all the time because of your snoring.” But I didn’t feel confident in my righteous. In fact, I felt rejected and like an complete asshole. Like it does with every issue in the universe between the hours of 11pm to 5am, my mind chimed in:

“Was the elbow to the soft flesh above his kidney really necessary,” ethos asked me.

“But snoring is annoying,” ego said, while looking at itself in the mirror.

“It’s involuntary. It’s not malicious,” ethos pleaded.

“Get fucked!” screamed my ego.

So, that night, we both lay in our separate rooms, confident we’re right. He can’t help that he’s snoring, which is true. I believe I’m in my every right to jab an elbow into his side when a snore rips through the stillness, scaring the shit out of me. After some time, or days, whichever, I have to admit to myself shouting or jabbing isn’t the kindest solution to the problem. And also, his snoring is rarely the actual problem.

Of course, the actual cause of my tossing and turning is anxiety stemming from my waking life. A pandemic, neverending political strife, family problems, unemployment, to-do lists, and the always unanswerable, “what am I doing with my life” meta nonsense that either keeps me up or wakes me up at 4am. Blaming external factors like snoring, a hot room, or a cat jumping on me is a lot easier to deal with than irrational fears clawing their way out of my brain and into the darkness.

When I’m keyed up on something that happened in 2005, one snore sends me into fight or flight and my senses start working overtime. My hearing becomes more intense so every snore sounds like a garbage disposal in my ear. My brain is telling me this innocent snore is a threat because it used to be a signifier of a larger problem in my past. The next thing I know, there’s an argument at midnight, I’ve dragged past garbage into the present, and I’m still sleeping like dogshit.

This makes me think about the ferociousness we use to defend ourselves based on what we experienced in the past. We become almost feral, trying to protect ourselves from an outdated threat. When in reality, the person in the present is simply trying to understand us, love us, or just sleeps with his mouth open.

It took me a long time to learn how to solve problems other than shutting down or arguing. Learning how to sleep next to someone who snores is a problem. I learned ways to deal with that gently, rather than go on the attack. I rub his arm. Place my ankle over his. If it’s too bad, I sleep in the other room. But my favorite way to stop the snoring is to play snoring sounds from YouTube. Which is a new, improved, and more hilarious sleeping tradition.

6 Ways Bartending Destroys Your Body

She worked seven doubles in a row.

Sometimes a sycophantic co-worker will say, “I want to learn how to bartend!” Typically, they’re dressed super cute, maybe some heels going on because their job requires delicate tasks, like seating guests or coat check. They’re young, usually having just turned legal drinking age, so bars are still novelties to them.

I’m wearing clothes that are garbage because I’m always damp, from sweat, dirty dish water covering my jeans, spilled drinks and olive juice marinating my shirt. There might be anywhere between one to five cuts on my hand from a dull fruit knife or shattered wine glass. Exhausted, my hair falling out of a shitty bun while eyeing the drunk guy at the end who I have to cut off or the couple who might run out on their tab, I say, “Yeah, it’s really fun.”

What I don’t tell them is the list of physical maladies that read like symptoms of a flu strain busting out of Asia. It’s no secret bartending can be back breaking work. The amount of physicality varies depending on where you work, but make no mistake, slinging drinks takes its toll.

General Aches and Pains

Have you ever been beaten with a sack of doorknobs? Neither have I, but I know the feeling. Waking up the morning after a busy bar shift will leave you wondering who broke into your bedroom during the night and pummeled you with a baseball bat. Once you get up and moving, the general achiness will subside, as well as other methods to reduce stiffness, but you will wonder who stuffed your sleeping self into a industrial clothes dryer.

Cacophony of Cracking

I would say this next ailment drowns out the sound of morning song birds, but you heard those when you got home at 5 a.m. Now it’s two in the afternoon, you’re stretching in bed only to hear bones clicking and snapping back into their sockets like a first year biology teacher’s classroom skeleton being assembled. Don’t worry, there’s nothing pathologically wrong, those are gas bubbles popping around joints. Some of us may have more cracking joints than others, due to genetics, but typically, the symphony of sounds emanating from your joints is from hypermobility. Now, if there’s pain associated with the cracking, that leads me to my next point.

“Did I leave the oven on?”

Chronic Pain

From pinched nerves to plantar fasciitis to tendonitis, chronic pain is something we would like to ignore, like that greaseball waving frantically at you for drinks only to turn around and ask his friends what they want when you finally get to him, but we can’t. The pain is there and it’s not leaving until it’s dealt with (or served a vodka soda, an old fashioned, a Bud Light, a shot of Yaeger, and “whatever Madison wanted”). There are ways to prevent injuries, but bartending requires you to be on your feet for hours upon hours, moving – usually quickly – and lifting kegs. So, of course, stretch whenever possible, drink tons of water, wear comfy shoes and watch your posture, but injuries still might happen. Slip on a wet floor and you have a wretched knee to deal with. If injuries do happen, don’t ignore them by drinking more shift drinks than usual, deal with them immediately. Trust me, they’ll only get worse and cost you more pain and money in the long run.

Persistent Fatigue

Once, after suffering cold symptoms for almost two weeks, I went to a primary care physician who dismissed my symptoms as a cause of “well, you’re a bartender, so you probably go out all the time.” Or maybe there’s bacteria building a subdivision in my sinuses, Doctor. Some might assume your constant exhaustion is substance abuse, which does make people tired. However, as a bartender who rarely drinks, the fatigue that accompanies bartending, as well as anyone who works on their feet, is real and unavoidable. Standing on your feet for forty hours a week will affect anyone. You’re going to be a little sleepy. Yes, you can go to the gym to increase your physicality, drink tons of water, eat well and sleep seven hours a night, but, c’mon, still sleepy. And for introverts like myself who found their way into a lifetime of customer service, your energy will be drained. Energy vampires are real.

Constant Exposure to Illness

Speaking of doctors, good luck ever taking time off work to see one. Despite the exposure to hundreds of people and their airborne illnesses every shift, the service industry is notorious for allowing, or demanding, their employees come to work ill. Hospitality workers having paid sick days is more rare than painite and they usually can’t afford to miss a shift. We’re not exactly millionaires. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford a day off when you’re dying with the flu, calling in sick without a doctor’s note usually means you’re required to find someone to cover your shift. If not, you’re working, unless you have a merciful manager. And speaking of doctors, hospitality workers are usually paying for private health insurance. And with the rising cost of healthcare, how many workers can actually afford the steep insurance premiums?

Fungus and Cavities, Oh My!

Now, for the closers, fungus and bacteria. Ah, fungus. We love you as mushrooms, but I do not want you on my toes. Once, I had a hole in my boot while bartending in a flooded bar which rewarded me with six weeks of athlete’s foot. Hands are constantly wet from alcohol, sanitizer water and fruit juice chapping your skin raw, resulting in the cutest term, bar hands. Like Edward Scissorhands, but touching a dry cotton polishing cloth will make you scream in pain. Another fun side effect is the prevalence of cavities. While I blame the majority of my dental care on my sugar addiction, there’s a definite cause and effect in alcohol and tooth decay. Tasting cocktails that you make to ensure consistency is part of the gig, but drink water afterwards because the acids in booze will rip through your teeth enamel like a tornado.

Bartending can be a rewarding job. The money is usually great, the people are sometimes great and guests respect you because you have knives and flammable liquids within reach. But you do have to have a thick skin – both emotionally and physically.

Carpe Diem! Recipes for A Minor Depressive Episode

For those of us that live with someone else, be it roommate or partner, there are those few and far in between times when you get the place to yourself. And today was one of those days! Yesterday, the boyfriend took off for Vegas. I woke up, headed straight for the couch and played an episode of Jessica Jones, ready to plan a whole day for myself! First, I was going to go thrift store shopping for a cute summery dress for when I joined him in Vegas later that week, followed by lunch for one at my favorite ramen place. Then, I was going to go to the store to gather ingredients to make homemade ice cream and a cauliflower pizza crust, yum! A full day!

After watching another episode of Jessica Jones, my rumbling stomach decided it was time to make myself breakfast. As I stared into the fridge, I realized there wasn’t shit to make breakfast with. But I got pretty creative! I found a buttermilk waffle in the freezer from a couple of weeks ago when I made a batch with our waffle maker during a desperate attempt to snap myself out of a desperate cloud of negativity. Thankfully, I had two remaining pieces of turkey bacon and a few eggs left. I popped the waffle into the toaster, tossed the turkey bacon into the microwave and scrambled those eggs! Away we go!

However, I set the microwave for too long and the bacon returned to me as two pieces of salty cardboard. Setting my sight onto the waffle, however, even after two attempts of toasting the waffle, I discovered it was still cold and somehow had the texture of human flesh. The organic maple syrup did nothing to save it and somehow the clammy flesh of the waffle infected the syrup with it’s putridness, providing the syrup with an essence of sweet dogshit. Scrambled eggs were edible because that’s almost  impossible to fuck up. Good thing too! Despair was clawing at my back!

A much better breakfast than mine

Burnt As Fuck Turkey Bacon With Cadaver Belgian Waffle & Easy As Fuck Scrambled Eggs

2 pieces of turkey bacon

2 pieces of paper towel

1 leftover frozen Belgian waffle from a happier day

2 eggs

1.Sandwich turkey bacon between two paper towels. Place into microwave for 2 min. This will be too long.

2. Remove frozen waffle and place into toaster. Press the lever down.

3.. Place a pan on the burner and spray with cooking spray. Crack eggs into a bowl and scramble with fork.

4. Open the fucking microwave because it won’t stop beeping. Swear with favorite cuss word when you see how burnt as fuck the turkey bacon is.

4. Press the lever down on toaster again. Waffle still frozen.

5. Pour eggs into pan. Move them around.

6. Press the lever down on toaster again. Waffle will remain cold.

7. Put everything on a plate. Salt and pepper eggs to taste and drown waffle in syrup. Eat however much you can stand. Throw entire waffle into garbage.

Since it was a Sunday and I wanted more time to myself and whatever trouble I could get into, meaning watching another episode of Jessica Jones, I decided not to leave the house. I decided to order my groceries online from Instacart. After readying my computer for online shopping, I flip through an ice cream cookbook. I remind myself that I can simply click on a button selecting whatever flavor of ice cream I want rather than spend three times as much money buying ice cream ingredients, cooking the ice cream mixture, then waiting hours for it to cool, then putting it into the machine and then finally eating it. Fuck that. Click! I remember my plan of creating a cauliflower pizza during more optimistic times two hours ago.  I google a recipe for cauliflower pizza crust. After reading about the small amount of effort, I am reminded of my own indolence and click! theres’s a frozen pizza in my cart. 

Another episode of Jessica Jones later, my groceries arrive. I unpack them. I make myself a cup of coffee because we were also out of that shit. Nothing fancy, it’s just Keurig. I’ve watched friends make coffee with french presses and the hourglass shaped gravity thing that you just pour boiling water in and wait forever like anywhere from four minutes to two days, but I prefer having my coffee and it’s caffeine induced worries immediately. I dump an obscene amount of sugar and milk rendering it more of a dessert than a beverage and wander out into the backyard with my cats. The next door neighbor comes out, sees my cats and warns me about fleas. I go back inside.

Back inside, I pull out my new carton of ice cream and dump a massive scoop into my almost finished sugary milky coffee. I sit back on the couch and eat my disgusting version of Affogato.

Like this, but not at all

Sad Affogato  

1/16 cup of coffee

2 scoops of vanilla ice cream

  1. After guzzling a coffee that is primarily milk and sugar, shuffle to the freezer.
  2. Spoon out two scoops of ice cream and dump into cup. 
  3. Jam another spoonful straight from carton into mouth.

After two and a half more episodes of Jessica Jones, I decide it’s time for lunch. I cook a frozen pizza that I’ve received acquired thanks to Instacart. It’s an Amy’s Organic pizza. Usually, I prefer a Jack’s, but I’m on a health kick lately. As I pace around the kitchen waiting for my pizza to cook, I eat chocolate, hummus, almonds, stale cheddar Ruffles, crackers, really anything in reach. I eyeball a bottle of rose for 6 seconds. I look at the time. 1pm. This day is pretty much over. I pour myself a large glass.

“Say when.” “….”

Amy’s Organic Spinach Pizza

One (1) Amy’s Organic Spinach Pizza 

  1. Preheat oven.
  2. Wait 5 seconds.
  3. Tear open box and place pizza in oven, on pizza pan, foil or directly onto the rack because who cares.
  4. Wait 12 min. Check on pizza after 4 minutes, then 2 minutes, then 3 minutes, then 2 minutes again, then 1 minute, then another minute, then another minute and finally take it out.
  5. Cut that shit.

Carrying two slices of pizza, I return to my permanently indented couch cushion. I watch 10 more minutes of Jessica Jones. I return to the kitchen three times for two more slices because I am not self-aware enough to know I will eat not 3 pieces but 5 pieces. Why three times for two slices? That math doesn’t add up.  On the second trip, in a pathetic display of portion control, I cut one slice in half. The third slice is eaten after finishing the wine and taking a 40 minute open mouth nap with one cat asleep on my neck. I am so drowsy and confused I’m not even aware I’m eating the slice until it is finished. It is only 4pm.

I decide it’s time for more ice cream. Using a juice cup is a good way to eat several servings of ice cream in one day and still fooling yourself into thinking it’s not a full bowl of ice cream. But it is if you really pack it n there. Years ago, when I was little, I was waiting with my brothers and  grandparents for a table at Denny’s on a busy Sunday morning. The waiting area was directly in front of the dessert case, that was filled with pies and also Baskin Robbins ice cream. A woman ordered a pint of ice cream to go. That lead to myself and the entire waiting room of after church crowd watched transfixed as the  Denny’s employee filled the container by using the ice cream scoop as a hammer to smash out any air pockets, ensuring that pint of ice cream was filled to the motherfucking brim. I think about this at least once every two week. Using the 1991 Denny’s Baskin Robbins method, I filled my juice cup of ice cream to the motherfucking brim.  I remember I have sprinkles and dump a pile on top of the ice cream, but only after I dump piles of sprinkles in my hand and eat them.

I finish my ice cream and watch the rest of the season of Jessica Jones. I briefly wonder if I want to smoke weed or take a vicodin or both. I decline on both, Vegas is only a few days away.  I accomplish nothing all day and go to bed with a feeling of something between deep sadness and crippling anxiety. I eat a chocolate bar in bed, smushing chocolate into my pillowcases and my right forearm, scrolling through videos of people icing cakes and dogs doing things. Tomorrow is another day.

“Oh, you don’t sleep on your toes, in a squat, next to the bed? That’s weird.”

All Jobs are Real Jobs: A Service Industry Rant

“When are you going to get a real job?”

This question elicits two different reactions from me: “I know. ” and “But, how about you go fuck yourself?”. Because I have a fake job. A fake job that has lasted since I was 17 years old selling sweet iced tea in mason jars and fried catfish on aluminum pie plates. A fake job that I thought I would be able to ditch after college. A fake job that has allowed me to feed myself and my cats many years past college. A fake job that has allowed me to earn money all over the country. A fake job that allowed me to make those moves without employment lined up because I knew it would only take me a few days to find a new job. A fake job that even when the economoy took a shit I still had job security. Because people gotta eat.

I was once a hostess. Then a server. Then a bartender. Now a bartender/bar manager. Very rarely have I gone to work gleeful, often resigned, sometimes with dread, and  four times with absolute fear. St. Paddy’s Parade Day at an Irish pub in downtown Chicago as a cocktail server is pure hell. I was always terrified someone in oversized blinking shamrock sunglasses would throw up on me.

Every shift is more or less a gamble. There’s never a set amount of money you’ll make. I mean, I know that I’ll make more on Friday than a Monday, but sometimes that gets turned upside down by a convention in town or a drunk guy making it rain. You never know. Swapping shifts involves strategy. There’s no way I could do this work with a set hourly rate. I mean, I could, but your experience is about to shit the bed. You think I’m going to care about how fast you get your margarita or whether or not you’ll truly enjoy the salmon? You think I’m going to smile more making $15/hour? I have resting bitch face on nights when my hourly is over $40. And please stop telling me to smile. I CAN’T HELP IT. THAT’S MY FACE, YOU CONDESCENDING DICKHEAD.

I once temped in a HR position and was asked if I could handle basic office skills. I was 30. With office experience. I don’t know why people who have always worked in an office think that those of us who haven’t would be lost. If I were to put any office worker behind the bar, most of them would fall apart. Do you know how many skills are involved in bartending? Memorization, being nice to assholes, massive multi-tasking, standing for hours and hours without a lunch break or even a bathroom break, constant reprioritzing, athletecism, flexability and staying calm all while both co-workers and guests are interrupting your train of thought asking for shit, one chic is pulling another chic out of a barsttol by her hair, and you’re trying to decide if you need to cut off that guy on the end because if he gets in a car and wrecks, guess what? I get sued under a Dram Shop Law. Can you get sued at your job? Most people would say no. I’m guessing there isn’t that kind of pressure in the cubicle.

Sometimes there’s blantant aggression. I have more than once overheard people say to a co-worker,”Well, you’re 30 and you’re a bartender!” So what, bitch! Where do you work, Express? Oh, you’re a lawyer? Still not impressed! And for some reason, one out of 4 bitchy guests proclaim they’re a lawyer. Either some people are embellishing on their work histroy or you lawyers need some mindfulness apps. Chill! What’s wrong with being 30 and shaking some drinks? I slept until 10:30 today! Yesterday, I got up at 8am, accomplished some shit and then took a nap. Actually, I usually take naps. I’ll probably take one in a few minutes. You 9-5ers can’t do that shit.

I just took a nap!

Everyone working in customer service has a happy face on. And they should. We’re serving people. Guests should feel welcomed and appreciated. Some of them are. Regulars have often become friends. But some customers are assholes and that’s just reality. Are you nice? Hey, thanks for being nice! Are you funny? Ha! Sit down and make me laugh! Are you a dickhead? AWESOME.  YOU’RE RUINING MY ENTIRE SHIFT. Ways of being a dickhead are numerous and we all know them, but the one way people don’t seem to know is by asking if we do anything else besides taking your food order or showing you to your table. They ask if we’re in school. Or if we work anywhere else. I mean, fucking probably, but why is this question so prevalent in the service industry? Are cashiers fielding these lame questions, too? Nurses? Receptionists? Welders? What’s going on there?

Is it guilt? If you’re hoping those people making you drinks and sliding sizzle plates in front of you like what they do, the majority of them don’t. Again, we’re serving people. It’s literally work. No one likes work. I mean, do you? Do you relish every minute that you’re at work? Is smashing yourself onto a packed train or traveling 5mph on the freeway during rush hour your passion? And why does it matter if the server legitimately enjoyed your joke of “I hated it!” as you wink and wave at your empty plate? Does thinking that someone making 12 drinks simultaneously enjoys her work make you feel less guilty about ordering an extra cold, slightly dirty vodka martini with the ice from the shaker on the side and blue cheese olives? This is their decision to work there. And work is garbage. It’s work. But work is especially garbage when you’re scraping food covered in someone else’s cold and flu germs into an overflowing trash bin next to a overflowing dish pit while remembering that your student loan payments are overdue and someone’s all, “So, you in school?” NO. I HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE.

It’s that judgment from people who have never worked in the service industry that I can never really shake off. Years of listening to shitty comments like “What does she know? She’s a bartender” have reduced down into a vicious little voice in my subconscious so on bad days, I’m like, yeah, what do I know? I’m just a bartender. Then I have to remind myself why I’m not someone’s assistant or doing data entry. Because I know I wouldn’t like it. Because what I do pays more. Maybe they, too, are asked when they’re going to get a real job. That’s shitty. Stop asking people that. Maybe I’ll start asking doctors when they’re going to get a real job. Lawyers, investment bankers, architects.

I look for a real job all the time. I fantasize about being a screenwriter or an author. I’ve looked into the tech industry. I once spent weeks researching schools to become a therapist. Like anyone, I want an easier and more fullfilling way to make money. Because any job on your feet is tough. Any job in customer service has bad days. Working nights limits the time you can spend with family and friends.  But, goddammit, they are all real jobs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T’was the Grope Before Christmas

This is a story about a drunk guy at a bar I used to work at a couple of years ago. And when he tried to grab me by my naughty bits. Just two days before Christmas. It is, obviously, painstakingly modeled after T’was the Night Before Christmas. Because what better way to parody that poem? Enjoy.

T’was the Grope Before Christmas

T’was two nights before Christmas, when all through Pops,
Not a creature was stirring, not even the fops.
The bottles were hung in the bar rail with care,
In hopes that drunkards soon would be there.

The cookies were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of whores danced in their heads.
And Colleen in her bubbles, and I in my grape,
Had just settled our brains for an alcoholic rape.

When out on my shoulder there arose such a clatter,
I sprang away to see what was the matter.
Away to the bar I flew like a flash,
Alas his grip held; we were eyelash to eyelash.

The light of Squirrel bouncing off the Bordeaux,
Gave the luster of perversion to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a groping palm and five fumbling fingers.

With a putrid cologne, so strong and musky,
I knew it must be European misogyny.
More rapid than pumas his misplaced compliments came,
And he whispered, and slurred, and boozily proclaimed;

“You a beautiful women! Lovely! A Vixen!
Beautiful! Beautiful! Oh, I am blitzen…
Why you struggle and cringe? Recoil and flinch?
I would so much like to give you a pinch.”

As Colleen laughed and now Gregg cried, “Whoa!”
The inebriated fellow continued his public porno.
So over to the bar-top the groper he sways,
With the hand full of digits, and so unfazed.

And then, in the grasping, I remained aloof,
To the prancing and pawing of his strange hoof.
As I drew in myself, ducked and turned around,
Dammit! The boozehound stood his ground.

He was dressed in a suit, from his head to his toe,
And his clothes were all rumpled with sweat, and rouleau.
A bundle of coins he had spent on his whores,
And he looked like a john just covered in sores.

His eyes – how they died! His dimples how gross!
His cheeks filled with capillaries, his nose was rimose.
His droll little mouth was drawn up in a sneer,
And the beard of his chin was damp with sour beer.

The chump of a man blinked and gritted his teeth,
And headphones encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a flawed face and a little tiny dick,
That, I’m assuming, because he was such a dipshit.

He was a train wreck, a right jolly dumb fuck,
And I laughed when I saw him, despite my luck.
A lurch of his feet and a turn of his hip,
Soon, I could tell all of this grabby hardship.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his drink,
And put it to his maw; Gregg appeared in a blink.
And arguing his case, “I compliment woman!”
And finally resigning, understanding the ban;

He sprang to the door, to the patrons gave adieu,
And away they all snubbed him like a man with the flu.
But I heard him exclaim, as he stumbled out of sight,
“You American dickcheese! And to all a good night!”

Salon Time

Going to the salon to get highlights and a haircut is usually a two to three hour process. It’s not so much the time wasted I hate. Usually I read. And it’s not so much the forced small talk I have to make with the stylist. Making small talk is easy for me. Years of bartending and waiting have taught me that art. And usually I like the stylist. It’s not so much that sitting for three hours makes my knees hurt. I’ve been on long flights. It’s not so much being forced to stare at yourself in the mirror for countless hours as you go through varying degrees of beauty. To “Oh, Jesus!” to “Oh! Nice!”.

It’s usually just impatience. All those processes. The painstaking manner in which they cut your hair. Over and over. From different angles and different sides. And they’re good at it. I couldn’t do it. It’s an art form. From the mixing of the color all the way down to the blow out.

What would they do if after all that time, all that work, when they asked, “What do you think?” Their faces beaming with pride, knowing they nailed it.

“I love it!”

“Great!”

“Yeah! Now shave it all off.”

“What?”

“You heard me. Shave it all off.”

“You’re joking…right?”

“Nope. Deadly serious. C’mon. Pick up those clippers. Hell, Bic it for all I care.”

After some convincing, I’d have them shave it all off. Then I would collect my new hairstyle, scattered all over the chair and the floor, and put it in the plastic bag I brought with me. I would say, “Thanks!” and go to the front to pay for all the services and tip the stylist.

I would leave the salon with the employees all thinking, “What the fuck just happened?”. I wouldn’t be able to come back in my usual 6 to 8 weeks to explain. Because I’m bald now. It’s gonna take at least a year or so for me to need their services again.

And that’s the first thing I would do if I ever lost my mind.

The Clock That Has Never Ticked

People are still under the assumption that women have a ticking biological clock. I know this because the other day someone said to a co-worker, “You’ll want babies one day. Women have a ticking biological clock.” So that guy and my Facebook feed makes that statement ring somewhat true. But I don’t think so. I know this because I’m a woman and I’ve searched all over for a clock of any kind. Nothing. And there isn’t even any ticking coming from any orifice. Not one!

I haven’t wanted children for as long as I can remember. Back when I was little, when I would take baby dolls and put them in precarious situations. “Oh no! You’re on fire at the edge of this cliff! Don’t fall down this rocky terrain into that vat of oil! Noooo!” Or when I was at the grocery store with my mom. I looked around at all the families, pushing their carts and being together. “Jesus. Why would someone do that to themselves?” Fourth grade had it’s own stressful demands. I couldn’t imagine piling a child on top of that. Or when I first got my period and I thought, “Seems pointless, but okay. Silver lining? Now I know for sure I’m not a hermaphrodite. Because you never know.”

That’s right. You never know if your child is a hermaphrodite. So why have them? To the co-worker that was on the receiving end of the biological clock advice, I turned to her and said, “I’m 33. I never wanted kids. And I have never felt the need to have kids. In fact, I think it’s growing stronger as I get older.”

She looked at me for a second. Then she said, “You give me hope.”

And that’s how crazy cat ladies are born.

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Flesh Wounds

Really, who needs all ten fingers? Margo from The Royal Tennenbaums rocked only nine and had a wooden one in place of the tenth. It doesn’t matter that she’s not a real person. What does matter is I almost ripped off my left pinky finger while running for the bus today. On a construction sign bigger than me, complete with bystanders and sound effects. Like bone clanging against metal sound effects and a, “Oh Jesus fuck!!”, followed by a laugh grimace to show everyone that yes, I did run into a sign, but this kinda shit happens all the time. Like how at work, an hour earlier, someone said I had ketchup on the seat of my pants. “French fries! Yaaaay!” I tried to clean it off by soaking the back of my pants with a wet towel, so instead of having a dot of ketchup, it looked like I pissed myself. Which is the worst thing for strangers to wonder about you. “Maybe people will think I sat in water. Or was stabbed in the ass.”

Back to the accidental sign punch. There’s no way I’m missing this fucking bus. I just gonged my hand on a giant orange sign. I don’t lose my awkward stride – despite the fact I’m trying to run in ballet flats. Do you know how hard that is? And I guess running in these shoes make me flail my hands? This shit doesn’t happen on planned runs with proper footwear.

The driver, alerted to the sight of me running by the sound of cartilage disintegrating against .080 gauge aluminum, opened the door and let me on. I’m certain everyone on the bus saw what happened. They saw my pinkie move in a completely different direction from the rest of my hand. I know this because a man offered me his seat. I’m sure he felt sorry for me. Either for the torn digit or the ass stabbing

Pins and Needles

The door opened and the ponytailed man dressed in what could best be described as pajamas looked in. We made eye contact. I lay motionless as the needles in my skin bobbed to the beat of my heartbeat.

“Oh. I didn’t know someone was in here,” he said to me.

In response, I blinked.

Wordlessly, I looked at the several other empty recliner chairs covered in blankets. Obviously, this room was meant for more than one patient. Unless he thought I was expecting friends. For a party.

“It’s community acupuncture,” the voice of the acupuncturist floated in from the hallway. “Take a seat wherever you’re comfortable.”

Still making eye contact with me, he chose a recliner across the way. I broke eye contact and looked at the clock radio next to me. 12:06. I started calculating how much more time I had to go. 30 minutes? 45 minutes? I had come to this place to treat my shitty knee, my shitty ankle and my shitty anxiety.

Needles were imbedded on my arms and a few on my shins. There was even one on my hairline. That was my favorite one.

I felt both lighter and heavier. I experienced both calmness and absolute panic. I was both hot and cold.

Every once in awhile, my right arm would twitch. I was both intrigued and fascinated.

I would almost nod off. Then would be wide awake.

I looked at the clock radio again. 12:09. Fuck this. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!

Finally, the therapist came in (at 12:47) and asked if I was ready to have the needles removed. I was. My knee and ankle felt better for a couple of weeks. And my anxiety more or less abated. From that point forward whenever I felt anxious, I calmed myself by thinking, “At least you aren’t in a room full of needles with a hippie.”