Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Archive for the ‘funny’ Category

Valentine’s Day – To Sit or Not

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Valentine’s Day. Well, what can you say? I woke up this morning to find my stalker, yes, I think of her as mine, had enlisted her husband to harass me. Block, block, block. The shredder-guy is coming to release me of my deluge of papers and I’ve yet to gather the papers together (but not the transcripts of her texts and screenshots of her threatening to hurt me). Not an auspicious start to the holiday – maybe I should just sit this one out.

Gathering my stuff for the shredder, I realized that I was a magpie in another life – surely the monstrous number of books, photos, and papers is a sign. One box contained a yearbook from middle school – 8th grade. An infamous year of that awkward stage, the year after I had settled in Alabama when I knew enough not to carry my monogrammed shoe bag from Scottish boarding school but not much else. Academically, I was bored out of my mind being a year or three ahead in most subjects. And completely flummoxed by the teacher for English, Spanish, and French. She had a kind heart and taught conversational French by the book.

After two years of French taught by a Frenchwoman, I was way, way ahead of other students. In this class, we sat around memorizing little dialogues before reciting them with another student at the front of the class.

Remember 8th grade. The hormones. The preoccupation with skin imperfections. Always before the yearbook picture. The tight jeans and bowl cut hairstyles. Who was responsible for those atrocities? Those damn polyester shirts that gapped you know where. Always. Or the button popped off after giving a book review. Yes. A bad time.

French class was my respite. I could daydream and fret depending on the day, state of my hair, cooperation of my shirt, or clarity of my skin. I do remember the time I had to recite my little French ditty with the cutest guy in school, Serge. Not ever forgetting his name, his full name, but only giving you the first name so I can bypass the humiliation of someone contacting him.

Serge stood at the front of the class in his bell-bottom jeans. With the knife-like pleat. Wearing a chest hugging shirt. His blonde hair cut in a mullet. Green eyes half-shut. Skin like freshly churned butter. With his lazy lion looks, I thought wow. Wow. Frigid air conditioning lifted his hair, and I thought WOW. He’s so cute. Maybe I said it aloud. My mouth was open when I heard my name called and called again. I shook my head. Eek. I stood up knocking over my chair, tripped over my neighbor’s chair, and stumbled to the front of the class. I could do this. I knew I could. Do this.

At the front of the classroom, all eyes turned to us, the teacher said, “Begin.”

I looked at Serge and thought no bloody way. But it is school, and I’m a good student. He smiled at me without looking at me. In my general area. Hormones, adrenalin mostly, raced through my body.

“Ou … “ I looked at the teacher. A red spot formed on my flat chest.

“Go on,” she said. I clenched my fists. Somebody in the back of the classroom giggled.

“Ou guardez-vous …”

I felt more red spots creep up my neck. Serge smirked at me. He knew he was the coolest, cutest guy in school and I was just a dork.

“Ou guardez-vous … “

I bit my lip. So hard that I remember tasting blood. Burning splotches broke out on my chest, neck, and face. People in the front row of desks would not meet my eyes; facial muscles straining, not cracking a smile. The middle to the back of the class was out and out laughing.

Serge must have thought he was going to play with me. “What do you want to ask me?” he said arranging things in his pant pockets. By now, I could see the red splotches combining; instead of a collection of measles-like red bumps, I had Scarlet fever.

There was only one way out of it.

“I’ll take the F,” I said to the teacher.

“Ou guardez-vous vos saucisses?” The vignette would have me asking the cutest guy in my grade where do you keep your sausages? Sometimes in life, you just have to sit one out.

Oh, good, here’s the shredder guy. He needs to obliterate this yearbook then I can have a laugh and get on with Valentine’s Day.

Cookies for Everyone

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“No more penises!” I yelled at the teenagers. They rolled their eyes, of course, and kept on with their little tubes of icing.

“These are going to priests and rabbis,” I said, waving my arms and splattering red and green ribbons of sugar and lard through the air to smack and stick on kitchen cabinets. In a pristine room of lacquered white wood and stainless steel appliances. One of the two boys looked up at me. I parted the greasy adolescent hair hanging down to his chin in time to see him roll his eyes and smirk. With a deliberation belying his tender years, he chose azure blue icing and with a precise flick of his wrist and two little dots, created another indecent gingerbread man.

“Oy.”

The girls giggled, picked up tubes of pink icing, and added curly Ws to the chests of their gingerbread women.

The eight-year-old looked confused until he found a ribbon of gingerbread, shaped it into a snake, smeared it with green icing, and waggled it at a five-year-old who shrieking ran out of the room.

When I came back into the kitchen, the swollen-eyed girl in hand, the teenagers had decorated the snake with penises and boobs.

“Look, it’s ambidextrous,” he said.

“You mean androgynous. Bloody hell,” I muttered. “Where’s the Chrismukkah spirit?”

One of the teenagers piped in, “Don’t worry. We’ll make Mr. Snake two right hands.”

And with that, I sprayed them with multi-colored sprinkles starting a full out food fight.

We had fun. I don’t remember how many of the gingerbread people made it out of the house; my guess would be not many, but that wasn’t the point.

This year, I made nine dozen Pizelles with an old-fashioned press. Some were anise flavored, and some were amaretto-almond flavored. The Italian cookies covered an entire table. The cat, fur flying, fled the hiss of the cooking snowflake-shaped cookies to hide under her chair. I blistered the index finger of my right hand and pinched a blood blister between the two halves of the press. But the cookies made their way to colleagues. They handled the Pizelles with awe. Like they had never seen anything like them before. Or more likely, they weren’t expecting anything so wholesome from me. Especially after publishing a collection of short stories about breasts two years ago.

There’s something about making holiday cookies that I love. Perhaps the teenagers got it correct. It’s the pairing of the cookies with the unexpected, like making your gingerbread people anatomically accurate or gifting my cookies together with a book about boobs.

Go decorate a cookie and have a happy holiday time.

The Pickle Story

picklestoryAN EXCERPT from a short story published in the anthology, Robot Hearts. (A woman performs the Heimlich Maneuver and goes out on a date with the man she saved.)

This month has been hard.  My clients are doing the usual two-week ramp up before the Christmas holidays.  They talk about their parties, hangovers, family brouhahas, and impulsive sexual escapades.  The entire month makes me want to act out with them. So I did.

My holiday escapade began when I made an awkward phone call to the man from synagogue that went something like this:

“Hello.  I’m the woman from Friday night services.”

“Oh, I didn’t think you would call.”

“Well, it was sweet of you to come out to my car and say thank you.”

“It was amazing how far the ruggelah flew.”

“Yes. The rabbi was surprised.”

I tapped my fingers. Reconnected with my eye twitch. Good bloody grief.  I cut to the chase.  “What do you think about dinner?”

“I like dinner,” he said.

“You had suggested we go to dinner.”

“Oh yes, I forgot.”

“What kind of food do you like?” I asked.

“Oh most things.  Hamburgers, meatloaf, chicken soup, ice cream.”

I had a moment – a long moment of wondering, “Is this worth it?” I decided to carry on.

“Do you know Mitch’s Tavern?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well.  I know Mitch and he can make some great chilli and sandwiches but not hamburgers.”

“I don’t like spicy food.”

“What, never mind. When are you thinking?” I said.

“What?”

“Do you have a date, a time in mind?”

“No.  Do you?”

“How about Tuesday?”

“Okay.”

“So we have the date?”

“Good.  I’ll be there,” he said.

“Good.  But what time?”

“After work.”

“Okay, let’s pull this together.  Tuesday at 7 pm at Mitch’s Tavern?”

“How will I know you?”

“I’m the one who saved your life.”

“Oh yeah.  Short, skinny, red hair, but God you were strong.”

“Looking forward to it,” I said.

I was sitting at the bar, talking with Mitch, the owner when a series of clunks echoed up the gloomy staircase.  David clomped his way over. “It’s good to see you getting out,” said Mitch and winked before strolling off.

A cute, college waitress showed us to our booth.  She smiled in first date sympathy as she handed over the menus.

“I’ll give you a few minutes to figure out your order.  What would you like to drink?”

“Knob Creek. A few ice cubes.”

David’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline.

“Budweiser.”

I smiled at him. He did not smile back.

“You’re prettier than I remembered.”

“Thanks.  It must be the lighting.”

We studied our menus like college students cramming that last little factoid before a history exam.

The waitress appeared with my bourbon, two waters, and his beer.  “Mitch said it’s on the house.  What would you like to eat?”

“A Rueben with fries,” I said.

“Ham and cheese.  Hold the pickle.  I don’t eat pickles,” he said.

“I’ll eat your pickle.  No, no wait.  I won’t eat your pickle.  Well not tonight.  Maybe later.  Another time?  NO.  Keep your pickle.  Not that there’s anything wrong with your pickle.  I’m sure it’s a perfectly fine pickle, just not a pickle for me tonight.  No, no pickle for me.  I gave them up.  All that brine has got to bad for the mucous membranes.”  I sputtered, feeling this deep pull in my belly.  A spasm, a fit, a seizure, a visceral understanding of the absurdity of the situation.  I started to laugh.  Really laugh like I hadn’t in a long time.  The waitress and I were rolling, wiping tears out of our eyes.  The table shook with us.  She had to sit down.  I offered her my bourbon.

David locked eyes with me.  His gaze suggested I had disemboweled his dog.  The waitress moved away.  The table was cocooned in a judgmental silence.

Dinner was fast.  We politely shook hands.  David walked away.  I went back to Mitch’s Tavern.  The waitress and I stayed up late drinking bourbon and trading war stories.  We decided to just walk away the next time someone chokes.

Lying face up on my bed sifting through the night’s events, I watched the first apricot rays of dawn dance across the floor.  Rod would have understood the pickle story.  He would have fed me the pickle, spending our last twenty bucks to buy bourbons for the four of us (me, him, the waitress, Mitch).  He would have made crude remarks for years about green vegetables.  The pickle fiasco would have become a little tease, a pickle tickle about the connection between sex and love and laughter, another little curlicue in our goofy love story.

 

Travel by Dali

All this talk about airports has fired up my neurons. Many of my memories ping pong around the surreal experiences I have had traveling.

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Like being stuck at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. Munching on my third super croissant. Flaky, buttery, quintessentially French. Slightly panicked by the blaring French announcement possibly saying, “Trudi, this is your last chance to leave, your plane is closing its doors, you’ll be stuck here forever, we’ve lost your luggage – again, and …  we’ll only give you 50 francs for clean undies.” Or something like that. Panic needs carbohydrates hence the croissants. Then my attention was diverted by a group of travelers speaking in heavily accented English. They were describing the importance of their carry-on luggage to airport security personnel. Focusing over the croissant, thinking I might need a coffee and searching my mind for the correct French pronunciation, the argument became heated between the family of travelers and the personnel. Looking around, I spotted the luggage. They wanted to take their dining room table and six chairs as carry-on luggage. Huh. So that’s why there’s never room in the overhead bins.

In air travel’s good time, I made my way across the Atlantic. I have no idea what happened to the family and dining set. But that was not my strangest adventure traveling.

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This is not for the faint of heart but maybe with all the craziness of canceled flights and endless lines at airport kiosks, it is does put things in perspective.

In my early twenties, back in the Middle Ages of airplane travel, I putzed around the Caribbean. I was young enough to feel invincible, traveled with an overnight bag, and had an American passport when that counted for something.

I was sitting in the airport bar, waiting for an alternative to my canceled flight when I noticed people standing up and clapping. With enthusiasm which was quite a feat in the sweltering humidity of the tropics. Even the stoic bartender stopped polishing the not so clean glasses to smile. After more outbreaks of applause, my curiosity was piqued.

“Uh, what’s happening?” I asked.

“A plane landed,” the bartender said not missing a beat.

“Do they do that every time?”

“Every time a plane’s successful,” said without emotion.

“Can I have another?”

“Good idea,” he said already pouring.

Guess that was the usual response among travelers. Better to be plotched when I plummeted to the earth like a lawn dart.

Finally, my plane was called, I stumbled to the tarmac and squinted. That could not possibly be my plane. My mother’s pinto, the exploding car, was bigger.

“That’s your puddle hopper,” said the ticket taker. “Better hold onto your luggage.”

Like a good sheep, I got into the plane, boosted by another passenger from the rolling stairs through the door (or exit). We, the passengers, sat sweating in a cabin barely six feet wide. Sardine-like, five rows, two in each row, a center aisle walkable if you were anorexic and scuttled crab-like. Strapping myself in, I looked out at the cracked, tiny window, mouth opening at the sight of duct tape wrapped tourniquet tight around the wing.

The man across from me started praying with his rosary. Occasional moans drifted my way. The man catty corner across from me opened a bottle of rum, drank, and passed it to another passenger. When the bottle made its way to me, I took a swig. What a way to go!

The mood lightened and darkened depending on where you were sitting until the pilot stepped into the plane. He grinned at everyone. I could swear I had seen him at the bar earlier. He was wearing cargo shorts and a starched white shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in one sleeve. With a “Gooday folks. We’ll be taking off soon,” he disappeared into the cockpit. More praying and drinking.

Did I say the cabin was tight? It was tight. Before take-off, the pilot, he had introduced himself as Dickie over the PA, opened the cockpit door with some energy. He hit the man sitting in the front seat, knocked him out, “Oh damn, not again,” and the plane was delayed until EMS carried him off the plane.

After stewing for an hour in my own sweat, the plane took off. We flew low, I thought perilously low, to the waves. I watched the white caps cresting the ocean and dark shadows just below the water’s surface – sharks following the plane for the entire flight. If I were a shark, I might think of the plane as a package of easy snack foods.

 

Air travel is the miracle of careening through the air in a tin can. Fast, often efficient, and highly surreal. It boggles the mind.

Friends and Shoes

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After the year of surgeries, as I refer to 2015, I am aware from toes to fingertips of the importance of friends. They shuttle you to doctors’ offices, listen to your medication-invoked ramblings, get the tissues for you after one more painful procedure, and feed you.

But I these memories are too close for me to view too closely. I need further therapy. Today I will pay homage to friendship with a goofy tale of two friends who went that extra … step for me.

Many years ago, when my heart was young or at least a tad less cynical, I danced tango. Not the stiffly beautiful ballroom tango but the achey-breakey heart Argentine tango. The dance of the bordellos or in North Carolina, the dance of late night restaurants with good wood floors where the men dressed in black to set off the bright dresses of the women in stilettos. (I wore black Mary Janes with a 3 ½ inch heel, stylish enough heels but thicker than stilettos.) And tango has drama. Hot sticky drama.

At a milonga, the name of a tango flash mob, I was celebrating my approaching birthday when up meandered an ex-lover. Handsome in a calculated and soon-my-degradation-will-show kind of way. A mean as a snake, stab and watch you almost bleed to death before calling 911, ex-lover. And he brought with him his new … friend. Now this was only a couple of months beyond our break-up. A devastating affair where I felt like I had been sucker punched after three months of total bullshit back-and-forthing on his part. She sauntered in on his arm, plopped herself onto a stool, and looked around for an audience. She put on shiny high, 4 inch high stilettos with sparkly rhinestone designs on their straps. The men gaped. A fleeting image of clubbing her with them danced through my mind.

Anyone who has been in this situation knows you have two options. Leave. Damned if I will go that route. Or carry on. My friends rallied around me. I danced my heart out or numb along with my toes as my friends checked on me every ten minutes. Tension was high. Dancers and even the restaurant staff were watching. I wasn’t going to give up. I had a stiff upper lip being British and I had friends. Solicitous and goofy-assed friends who loved me. More than I knew right then.

Somehow I made it threw the night, agreed to meet my friends for dinner the next day, and cried myself to sleep. Putting on my happy face and a drawer full of make-up to cover up the dark circles under my eyes, I drove out to meet them at the restaurant. My friends smiled at me. Mischievous, wicked smiles reminiscent of “I have done something that is mildly illegal and possibly morally ambivalent.”

We drank some champagne before the chocolate cake arrived with the one, only one, candle. And a gaily wrapped present was placed beside the dessert. I made a wish, a completely unrepeatable wish and blew out the candle. I ripped through the paper to the box below, yanked off the lid, riffled through the wadded tissue, and drew out a shoe. I held out the shoe. A used shoe. Not my size shoe. I looked at them. They smiled back before bursting into laughter. I rooted around for the other shoe. Nothing.

“Why did you give me one shoe?”

“Guess whose shoe it is?”

We fell out of seats giggling, guffawing, all the laughing verbs. Eventually, I had to get rid of the evidence by burying the shoe in the backyard next to a patch of Black-Eyed Susans. These are great friends. I’m going to love these friends forever. They had my back. I can’t imagine life with all its ups and downs, loves and disappointments, without this depth of friendship. I hope you have friends like these to help you through life’s dramas.

 

To all my friends, past, present, and future, love love love.

Celebrating the Mishaps, Part 2

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It happened again – the family curse of nearby candles setting unexpected fires.

Around the winter solstice, a few of us gals get together for a night out at an area restaurant to catch up, celebrate our achievements (I like to make lists), and bemoan the catastrophes of the past 12 months (usually the larger list). This is our second year at the same restaurant. After last year’s noisy brouhaha, they put us in an inconspicuous booth way, way back. Near the restrooms. But it did not faze us.

In honor of whatever holiday we celebrate, I like to get little goofy presents for us. People need presents. One year it was an assortment of earrings. This year’s gifts were a gaggle of socks. Everyone needs warm socks, don’t we? Well maybe not in this December’s hot and humid weather.

I wrapped the gifts in pretty tissue paper and tied them up with bows and shiny glass balls. Arriving at the restaurant before the others, I tucked the table’s teensy-weensy candle out of the way. Memories of when my mother set the synagogue’s carpet on fire and of this year’s flaming Chanukah card incident have made me vigilant. With a carefree smile, I arranged the presents across the table. The table looked festive. My friends sat down. They smiled. We began our frolicking.

Into our second round of drinks, either the restaurant grew warmer or the heat from our frolicking bent one section of tissue paper.

Into the candle. The teensy-weensy candle. The corner of tissue paper caught fire. Wide-eyed with surprise at the tissue paper’s betrayal, I looked over the flames at my friend. Her eyes were large. Nonchalantly, I tried to pat it out. (All I had was wine to throw on the fire – I had a vague recollection that this would not be good, or work.)

I patted and poof. The fire spread to another present. Immediately, the table looked on fire. Flames erupted towards the ceiling. I heard a slight crackling. All eyes were glued to our table. I looked to our waitperson for help. He was young, instantly almost a child young, with a stunned, ‘I-have-never-seen-this, they-didn’t-train-me-for-this,’ look on his face. The restaurant was mesmerized as the flames reached higher. My mouth fell open. The waitperson swore in French. Nonchalance pranced out the door.

Luckily, an older, more experienced waitperson came over, scooped up the Socks Flambé, and tossed them on the tile floor. In a second, the flames were out.

In the watchful, quiet restaurant, we blinked. Our pupils returned to normal size.

“Can we have another round?” I asked the waiter.

“Surely,” he said putting our candle on another table. That table’s patrons posthaste blew out our candle. The waitperson picked up the crispy tissue gifts from the floor. With a smirk, he placed them on the table. “That’ll make a good review on Yelp.” I nodded mouth still open.

“We need to leave him a good tip,” said one friend.

“Yessirree,” I said nodding my head like the bobble heads found on a car’s dashboard. They nodded in return.

The festivities resumed. The flame-tinged socks were met with giggles. We left an excellent tip.

“Let’s do this again soon,” we promised each other.

“Yeah but without the fire,” I said. More head nodding.

Safe in my home with an unlit fireplace, I swore to myself, “I am done setting fires.” The cat meowed her approval but I think I heard the faint laughter of my mother.

To Bean or Not to Bean

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Life has been surreal – stranger than any fiction I could write. And if you have been keeping up with the FB posts – you know I can write some strange shit.

Like killing off my main character over and over again, diverting a river to hide a dead body (weird but true), maiming someone and having them stumble to the Nile to be dismembered by crocodiles (mild to moderate maiming so they can walk after a fashion), falling in love over a string of red beads (carnelian – I would like a love-inspiring necklace), giving birth (no experience, nada, not even watched it on YouTube), ancient Egyptian love-making practices (very little pornography available – had to make them up except for one often repeated line, “Come to me from behind”), and the importance of animal dung in making a poultice (historically accurate but very eeooogh).

I have researched herbal poisons in ancient Egypt (beware people with large rings), marital rights under the Visigoths (surprisingly good for women), bad cop-good cop techniques (may come in useful), animals of the Alps (don’t go hiking by yourself and avoid lizards spraying toxins like from “Jurassic Park”), flowers loved by men (back to the poisons), sexual hallucinations (got to get me some of these), witch hunts in the Dark Ages (just say NO to the Dark Ages), stoning versus burning (neither thank you very much), and the physical attributes of an ancient Egyptian (dark skinned, small, overweight with pot belly and bad teeth not anything near “The Ten Commandments”).

And deliberated over a bunch of How-Tos/DIY techniques; how to distinguishes Black Henbane from other poisons (always smell what you eat and drink), how to fool someone into thinking they had sex with you (lots of info here), how to cross a mountain during the Dark Ages (you don’t), how wolves hunt (in packs – don’t look them in the eyes), and which is the fastest way to bleed out – puncture bite to the femoral or brachial artery (femoral – easiest to get to – keep people away from your inner thighs).

Whoa those are some strange lists.

I am hoping Saturday was the apex of my own kind of strange. It may have to do with going back on painkillers (no, not the opiate but the inhibitory neurotransmitter type). On the meds, I imagine my brain to have the consistency of not-quite-set Jell-O. For example, if you put your hand in the black box of my mind, you could pull out one of the finely detailed topics listed above but not how to make rice. Been making rice, or more correctly unintentional rice balls, for decades.

Three nights ago, I was boiling rice in a bag – a friend suggested this easy fix. All of a sudden I knew, just knew, we needed some Sambuca to celebrate Saturday night. At least my brain did not call for adding Henbane to the recipe or to go watch a crocodile eat my surgeon, anesthesiologist, and/or wound care specialist.

So off to the ABC store, which had moved throwing me into a directional tizzy, to stand before an enormous overly lit ballroom filled with really pretty colors. Sparkling. I got a tad overwhelmed, looked down at my feet to discover, I am standing in a liquor store in my fuzzy slippers. I checked my hair. It had that just napped feeling. Sticking out all over and somewhat matted. Thank goodness all my parts were covered.

“Do you want black or white Sambuca?” I asked my friend.

“Ugh. I’ve only had the white. Black would go nice with your pink slippers … ”

“Did we turn off the rice?”

“Hope so.”

“Okay dokey. We need to get home.” I made an executive decision and grabbed the black Sambuca. Usually I go for the known but on meds I am adventurous!

Back at my house, the rice was soggy in the bag. We got it boiling. Dinner was good. The after-dinner Sambuca proved to be a dilemma.

“One coffee bean?” I asked.

“Three, I think, or seven,” my friend said.

“Gimme that iPad. We’re going with three. Health, happiness, and prosperity. Two out of three?” We looked at my errant foot then added two coffee beans to the liqueur.

“Should we set it on fire?” I asked.

“No I’m sure your foot will get better!”

“Silly Bean. The Sambuca.”

“Let’s ignite it then put it out before we drink it.”

“Or singe our nose hairs … “

“And eyebrows,” he said.

We enjoyed the Sambuca as I explained the next decision point for my almost-completed first draft of the ANCIENT EGYPT book (write on painkillers, edit when off).

“Should she die by fire or by stoning?” I asked.

“Both sound painful.”

“I have the research on how the body dies either way. You know, the timeline for cooking versus crushing. It’s kind of gross,” I said.

“No I don’t know. You did use the Private Browsing setting, didn’t you?”

Oops. Hopefully, my searches have not flagged me for a trip to the police station, with the FBI, CIA or Poison Control. Enough stange/surreal. Maybe I should lower my dosage. Please bail me out of jail if I call you. I’ll make you some rice in those handy-dandy little bags.

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