The Time I was in Grammar School
Grammar school is a pretty strange time for everyone, and I myself am no different. If you were an elementary school student in the early 2000’s it meant you were heavily invested in AIM, (I started off as Lunarmoon1225 and then made the jump to DrUnK mUnKeY69. No I’m not joking; though I often wish I was, and I still have no idea why my parents allowed that to happen.) probably spent hours playing snake on your Nokia phone, loitered just about everywhere, witnessed Stephanie McMahon get tied to a large cross by the Undertaker on Monday Night Raw, and played games of Truth or Dare that forced mere children to commit acts that most drunk people would second guess.
After spending the majority of my early childhood looking like a small serial killer with a bowl haircut and reading books during recess, I actually began to develop socially. During this time, my class number dwindled in size from 40 to 15 students. There were 10 boys and 5 girls, none of whom found each other the least bit attractive. It was an especially dark time because Rico, aka the token class hearthrob, dealt a crushing blow when he moved to Lake Geneva leaving us all to pick up the shattered pieces of our hearts. Like I pretended to like Metallica for that kid; that was my level of devotion, Then, Paul Mag had to go get a seventh grade girlfriend and graduate. You could literally get lost in his eyes. I know I did. Every Thursday after school in Spanish club. It was bliss. By age 13, I had finally gotten over the fact that Rico was never coming back, and things started to change. Everyone had braces, which was awesome for me because I had a Grand Canyon-esque gap between my two front teeth; like I could fit a lollipop stick between them, the unfortunate souls had acne, voices were cracking, people were gaining and losing weight, kids once thought to be midgets were growing five inches overnight, boys had thin, sparse mustaches because they could, and, of course, most of us girls realized we had boobs, and thus could make the boys in our class do literally anything we wanted them to. Unfortunately for them, our desires centered around watching people inflict bodily harm on each other. I will return to this blood lust later. Coinciding with this time of learning what the vas deferens was from our Family Life books, was a period when everyone decided to become really ingrained in hip hop culture. I, for one, listened to Dr. Dre’s 2001 more than a suburban white girl ever should. There was even a time I wrote down all the lyrics to Nelly’s “Utha Side,” which is especially weird because 1) why did I have so much downtime, 2) I was listening to my Walkman at my grandma’s kitchen table while doing it, and 3) I’m pretty certain the song is about fucking prostitutes and illegal gang activities. At school dances, we sang Ja Rule to each other as if we actually knew struggle. We also each could be found wearing K-Swiss or Timberland shoes with the tongue out and the laces tucked in, and, as every girl lives in regret with, the weird two strands of hair that you thought were acceptable to leave outside your ponytail to hang in your face. That’s probably where the similarities between your typical grammar experience and mine end because, being that we had fifteen kids with raging hormones all in one place that all were devout WWF Monday Night Raw watchers, we had to find some sort of release and that release was found in physically abusing each other. During recess we played a game called urban rugby. It had nothing to do with rugby and even less to do with the fact our school was located in Lincoln Park. It was created for the sake of one goal and one goal only: beating the shit out of each other. Basically, you had a kickball, two teams and two goalies. If the ball was in your possession, you had to run for you life and try to a) hit the goalie in the face or b) throw the ball at the wall to score a point before the other team tried to do everything short of lynch you. These tactics included but were not limited to: body slamming, punching, pants-ing, drop kicking, kicking someone in the balls, and pulling on someone’s polo to the point where their shirt was ripped from their body. In fact, my close friend ripped coats straight off one very portly student’s body. One happened to be a down FUBU coat, and the teachers made him carry it home in a garbage bag because feathers were getting everywhere. Eventually, they took away all our recess equipment, aka the kickball, because we “couldn’t be trusted with it.” Because of this, we then began playing with rocks. After multiple people went to the nurse, we then lost recess privileges all together for the remainder of the month. Being that there was a lot more to our day than recess, we had to find other ways to amuse ourselves the remaining hours. During English class, numerous people would pretend not to know how to read. Without fail, whenever someone was called upon to read aloud, they would add extra words or change every word. This drove my teacher to the point of madness. Though that was hilariously satisfying for the most part, this sought after amusement often occurred during times when a teacher turned their back or left the room. Whenever this happened, complete mayhem would break out. A kid would run across the room and slap another student in the face, other kids would try to stab each other with pencils, we’d rearrange the teacher’s desk, draw on the board horrible things and then erase it, and, more often than not, would attempt to humiliate Kiefer. Though I’d like to believe what we did to him wasn’t quite bullying, how he didn’t snap and kill us all is a mystery to me. We would rip the last two chapters out of every book he was reading, which were mainly John Grisham novels, mark out whole paragraphs and sentences in all his textbooks, draw fake eyes with marker on his glasses, and put random food from lunch inside his desk to rot. We did this all mainly because all these scenarios led to him assaulting anyone near him whether there was an authority figure in the room or not. Eventually, the teachers had enough. They initially tried to reason with us with hour long heart to hearts, but realized their attempts were futile. That’s about the time when our principal came into our class, threatened to not let us graduate, came around to each desk individually and turned it over, and then forced us to pick up everything. We almost didn’t even have an eighth grade class trip, but when we did it was on the Spirit of Chicago along with three other schools from what appeared to be Cabrini Green, and that’s the first time I witnessed juking in real life. Ah, to be a young teen.
After spending the majority of my early childhood looking like a small serial killer with a bowl haircut and reading books during recess, I actually began to develop socially. During this time, my class number dwindled in size from 40 to 15 students. There were 10 boys and 5 girls, none of whom found each other the least bit attractive. It was an especially dark time because Rico, aka the token class hearthrob, dealt a crushing blow when he moved to Lake Geneva leaving us all to pick up the shattered pieces of our hearts. Like I pretended to like Metallica for that kid; that was my level of devotion, Then, Paul Mag had to go get a seventh grade girlfriend and graduate. You could literally get lost in his eyes. I know I did. Every Thursday after school in Spanish club. It was bliss.
By age 13, I had finally gotten over the fact that Rico was never coming back, and things started to change. Everyone had braces, which was awesome for me because I had a Grand Canyon-esque gap between my two front teeth; like I could fit a lollipop stick between them, the unfortunate souls had acne, voices were cracking, people were gaining and losing weight, kids once thought to be midgets were growing five inches overnight, boys had thin, sparse mustaches because they could, and, of course, most of us girls realized we had boobs, and thus could make the boys in our class do literally anything we wanted them to. Unfortunately for them, our desires centered around watching people inflict bodily harm on each other.
I will return to this blood lust later.
Coinciding with this time of learning what the vas deferens was from our Family Life books, was a period when everyone decided to become really ingrained in hip hop culture. I, for one, listened to Dr. Dre’s 2001 more than a suburban white girl ever should. There was even a time I wrote down all the lyrics to Nelly’s “Utha Side,” which is especially weird because 1) why did I have so much downtime, 2) I was listening to my Walkman at my grandma’s kitchen table while doing it, and 3) I’m pretty certain the song is about fucking prostitutes and illegal gang activities.
At school dances, we sang Ja Rule to each other as if we actually knew struggle. We also each could be found wearing K-Swiss or Timberland shoes with the tongue out and the laces tucked in, and, as every girl lives in regret with, the weird two strands of hair that you thought were acceptable to leave outside your ponytail to hang in your face.
That’s probably where the similarities between your typical grammar experience and mine end because, being that we had fifteen kids with raging hormones all in one place that all were devout WWF Monday Night Raw watchers, we had to find some sort of release and that release was found in physically abusing each other.
During recess we played a game called urban rugby. It had nothing to do with rugby and even less to do with the fact our school was located in Lincoln Park. It was created for the sake of one goal and one goal only: beating the shit out of each other.
Basically, you had a kickball, two teams and two goalies. If the ball was in your possession, you had to run for you life and try to a) hit the goalie in the face or b) throw the ball at the wall to score a point before the other team tried to do everything short of lynch you. These tactics included but were not limited to: body slamming, punching, pants-ing, drop kicking, kicking someone in the balls, and pulling on someone’s polo to the point where their shirt was ripped from their body. In fact, my close friend ripped coats straight off one very portly student’s body. One happened to be a down FUBU coat, and the teachers made him carry it home in a garbage bag because feathers were getting everywhere.
Eventually, they took away all our recess equipment, aka the kickball, because we “couldn’t be trusted with it.” Because of this, we then began playing with rocks. After multiple people went to the nurse, we then lost recess privileges all together for the remainder of the month.
Being that there was a lot more to our day than recess, we had to find other ways to amuse ourselves the remaining hours.
During English class, numerous people would pretend not to know how to read. Without fail, whenever someone was called upon to read aloud, they would add extra words or change every word. This drove my teacher to the point of madness.
Though that was hilariously satisfying for the most part, this sought after amusement often occurred during times when a teacher turned their back or left the room. Whenever this happened, complete mayhem would break out. A kid would run across the room and slap another student in the face, other kids would try to stab each other with pencils, we’d rearrange the teacher’s desk, draw on the board horrible things and then erase it, and, more often than not, would attempt to humiliate Kiefer.
Though I’d like to believe what we did to him wasn’t quite bullying, how he didn’t snap and kill us all is a mystery to me. We would rip the last two chapters out of every book he was reading, which were mainly John Grisham novels, mark out whole paragraphs and sentences in all his textbooks, draw fake eyes with marker on his glasses, and put random food from lunch inside his desk to rot. We did this all mainly because all these scenarios led to him assaulting anyone near him whether there was an authority figure in the room or not.
Eventually, the teachers had enough. They initially tried to reason with us with hour long heart to hearts, but realized their attempts were futile. That’s about the time when our principal came into our class, threatened to not let us graduate, came around to each desk individually and turned it over, and then forced us to pick up everything.
We almost didn’t even have an eighth grade class trip, but when we did it was on the Spirit of Chicago along with three other schools from what appeared to be Cabrini Green, and that’s the first time I witnessed juking in real life.
Ah, to be a young teen.
The Time I Had a Nose Bleed
If you couldn’t guess from the title, (or have not witnessed it for yourself) I am a chronic sufferer of nose bleeds. Horrible nosebleeds. The worst episodes that make up this plague on my life tend to happen only a few times a year, but dear God, when they do it is something that can otherwise only be seen in scenes on FearNet. With the amount of blood that I lose, by the time the whole situation is over, it looks similar to a crime scene photo of a murdered infant.
Having these bastards occur on a semi-regular basis means one thing for me: the stage is constantly being brightly lit for my public humiliation.
There have been a few choice encounters that have really just ravaged my collective self esteem that are worth mentioning: those being on State Street, at Lollapalooza 2012, and, most recently, this past weekend at a friend’s house.
If you weren’t aware, there are a lot of weirdos on State Street. Like a shit ton. Specifically right around the Old Navy, and, yes, I am referring to the preacher. I managed to outshine them all when my circulatory system attacked me. Before I knew what was happening, let alone blindly feel around in my purse for anything absorbent, there I found myself standing during peak State Street pedestrian traffic with my hands over my face and blood dripping down my arms.
I’m standing there watching as everyone around me did their best to stare as much as possible without catching my eye, when one of those double decker tour buses got stopped by the red light near where I was standing. The bus driver, being a good Samaritan, took it upon himself to ask me over his speaker system if I was alright. I went on to assure him I was quite in fact alright, while my asshole recoiled from embarrassment, as I realized people on the other side of the street were now straining their eyes to see my ailment.
Luckily, a woman eventually came up to me, and offered me some napkins from a nearby Subway, and I was finally able to mosey on into my intended destination of Nordstrom Rack looking as though I had killed and eaten a young deer using nothing but my hands and teeth.
I managed to make yet another public spectacle of myself a few months later during Florence and the Machine’s set during Lollapalooza. A few friends and I were enjoying some adult beverages and basking in Flo’s general ethereal appearance, when God Himself decided to once again turn his back on me and allowed blood to pour forth from my face.
At first, my friends and nearby bystanders were confused as I rapidly bent over clutching my face. However, everyone soon realized what was happening when I shouted something along the lines of, “FUCK, MY NOSE IS BLEEDING!” One friend then dashed off to get napkins, while the others stood there ogling and laughing at me like I was some weird subject on a Discovery Channel special.
Being that I was with two East Coast lax bros (which are the lax-iest of the lax bros), they demanded that I blow all the blood out of my nose as hard as I could because “that’s what coach makes [them] do at practice and it works.” Seeing that this advice would turn out to be a horrible failure, one of them then demanded one of us girls give him a tampon, which, once received, was then shoved up my nose.
Yes, a tampon.
Really lost lady points on that one.
Talk about one of my darkest days.
Unbelievably, both of those public events pale in comparison to what occurred to me this past weekend.
After too early of a dinner with too little sushi and way too much alcohol, followed by an unnecessary amount of bars, I woke up, like a complete amateur, on my side in a bed fully not knowing whose it was or where I was, which is always a safe feeling. My eyes adjusted to the brightness of the room for me to realize it was a friend’s: good. However, before the wave of relief even got a chance to wash over me, I noticed my left hand was completely rust colored: NOT GOOD.
It’s important to note that I have as many nosebleeds in my sleep as most twelve-year-old boys have wet dreams, but this was the first time I didn’t wake up. Probably because my body was trying to keep me alive, despite all the alcohol I had ingested. Now, if you’ve never been awoken periodically during the middle of the night because you are choking on what tastes like liquid pennies, you’re not missing out. That being the case, this was a real Keith Richards-esque moment for me. Because, oh, you know, there’s a good chance you could choke and die on that shit.
But back to my rust colored hand.
It took me about a half of a second to realize what it was.
That’s when the “Oh, no’s” began.
I searched the immediate area where I was sleeping, paying specific attention to the pillow and comforter I was using.
Blood city. Population: zero. (Because I don’t have any blood borne pathogens.)
Oh, no.-Oh, no.-Oh, no.-Oh, no.
That’s all I could think of to say. Because my brain was too busy shutting down from the most deflating sense of pure fear and humiliation that was fucking crashing down upon me.
Like this wasn’t my stuff. And blood is involved here. No one likes blood, let alone wants it all over their pillow, WHICH TOUCHES THEIR FACE. Especially someone else’s blood. I don’t even want my own blood touching my face (though that tends to happen more than I’d like it to).
Against my better judgment, I walked to the bathroom to see what kind of shape my face was in. Just as I feared, it looked like I had been trying to recreate the CD cover for Andrew W.K.’s “I Get Wet” CD.
There was even blood in my hair, which is like the last thing I ever wanted to fucking see. Ever.
All the above explained, I did what anyone else covered in blood in my situation would do: grabbed all the evidence and fled.
And thanks to the almighty power of hydrogen peroxide and cold water mixed with my mighty arm muscles, I was able to scrub the shit out of not only two comforters, a pillowcase, and a pillow, but a mattress pad as well.
For those detailed instructions, I shall always love you, Google.
When all is said and done, I’d like to think it’s the dry, winter air or high altitude or even a weird form of allergy that I’ve refused to see a doctor/check WebMD to be diagnosed with, but, when it comes down to it, it’s probably just poor genetics.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
The Time I Played Volleyball
I genuinely enjoy playing volleyball. Mainly because I admire the idea of the game: take this ball and punch it as hard as you can across the net and try to embarrass your opposition. Like that’s just the best.
Growing up, I played volleyball throughout grammar school, and spent countless summer afternoons with my brother practicing in the backyard with a game called Olympics. The game entailed me acting as the roles of coach, announcer, and opposition, while my brother was the home team. Basically, all I did was verbally bash him, while assaulting him with the meanest spike my awkward twelve-year-old arm could muster. It’s also important to note that, without fail, we were always the Communist countries of Cuba and North Korea. Not sure why exactly, but that’s just how it worked out.
This love of the sport was why, at 14-years-old, I found myself in a dusty smelling gym at nine in the morning awaiting to try out for my high school’s volleyball team. This was my high school the first, and it was an all girls Catholic school on the Southside of Chicago that just so happened to be known for their volleyball program. Now, being that I seemed to excel at volleyball in grammar school as a setter, and that my mother had attended this very same school and apparently was some freak volleyball prodigy there, I was abusively forced to follow in her footsteps.
Within the first, oh, I’d say thirty-five seconds of tryouts, I knew this wasn’t going to be anything less than a complete fucking nightmare. Because they had us sprint for what seemed like half a decade. Seeing that I had busied myself the previous evening learning how to smoke a cigarette, the physical exertion combined with my limited lung capacity made this a fourth circle of hell-type scenario.
After I came to terms with what I assumed was a collapsed lung, we spent a good hour and a half throwing ourselves at the ground for no reason. We would literally be like halfway across the gym and some asshole girl in spandex underwear would be standing on the other side of a volleyball net and casually drop the ball, but not even go so far as to drop, it was more like a roll down the net, and you would then have to run at the fucking speed of light to even have a pinprick of a chance in hell at being able to bump the ball up. Thus, saving yourself from personal humiliation.
At the end of the day, my forearms and thighs were the color of Kraukas ham. Like have you ever heard the sound of skin on a sweaty thigh being rubbed raw by a wooden floorboard?
Things only became worse when we began scrimmages. Everyone was moving like a fucking spider monkey and running at freak speeds back and forth across the court wherever the ball moved. And I had no fucking idea what was going on. Especially since 90% of these girls were involved in traveling leagues and had apparently played together since they were a mere bundle of chromosomes in the womb. I swear to Christ, one girl even did a back flip In fact, it was a girl that was also trying out for the position of setter. And I remember standing thinking, “‘You motherfucker.” Because she was fucking good. And because I was also lamenting the fact that the closest thing I could do acrobatically to that was a backward somersault And that was on a good day.
The third day of practice brought my spotlighted humiliation, which is always something that stays ingrained in your psyche for many years. You see, I was the worst at spiking. Like just the worst. I had an overhand serve that could shatter the frontal lobe of your fucking skull if it made direct contact with your face, but all the magic in Narnia could not help me to spike a goddamn ball. That shit never made it over the net. Like ever.
White girl can’t jump, ya know?
I mean, I wasn’t fooling myself. I knew at some point the coach of a state championship volleyball team was going to inquire about my spiking, especially after I kept advancing through tryouts. I was just hoping my various theatrics, such as sliding all over the floor for little to no reason, running to save balls that were ridiculously out of bounds, and taking vicious hits that broke blood vessels up and down my goddamn arms would be enough to overshadow my shortcoming.
However, that was not the case.
That was not the case at all.
I realized this about the time the coaches asked me to stay for a second at the net after everyone else was free to begin packing up their things and leaving for the day.
“Do you mind spiking a few for us?” one of the coaches asked.
I wanted to look behind me, hoping there was someone much less fortunate than I, but I knew it was me, myself, and my limp little bullshit legs that couldn’t make it more than three inches off the ground. Oh, and my poor jump timing. Can’t forget that.
Set the first comes to me and I jump…and…Netville, USA. But it was close. Lotta aggression coming through. Set the second comes…and…no, not even close. Some might go as far as to call that one embarrassing. Oh, maybe this time if I try to jump a little higher and…no. Still nothing. Eventually, after about five tries, they finally put me out of my misery and let me go.
I left the gym wafting of failure. It was like the stench of death; cloaking me in shame.
Not surprisingly, I did not make the team. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that I am neither lanky nor the height of a seven story building. However, I did make it to the last day of tryouts, which was just the fucking worst because it was the day that the coaching staff really wanted to recreate the physical experience of a concentration camp for you.
Not even going to try to lie, I definitely threw up. Twice. Like is it really necessary to run drills where you have to set the ball, sprint to the person you set it to, touch their toes, then run back in time to set the ball again?
No, the answer is a definite no.
And I am sure of that.
I mean, I’d like to think had I known about the position of libero before tryouts, I totally would have kicked the living shit out of the competition, mainly because I was very much willing to sacrifice my body in the name of victory.
Mainly because I am insanely competitive. And I can’t help but love any sport where I can fling myself to the ground and possibly do the worm.
The Time It was Halloween
Now, I will be honest, the majority of my life has been spent living in a constant state of irrational fear. My love of scary movie watching from ages 5-10 combined with my overactive imagination has really caused a lot of unnecessary psychological scarring in my day to day life.
For example, yesterday, I innocently turned on On Demand to check out the Lifetime Movie Network’s program offerings, only to be met with various haunting images of The Exorcist on my screen. Not surprisingly, upon turning out all the lights in my house, my imagination just went all sorts of ape shit and before I knew it, I was imagining someone that looked much similar to Reagan in the aforementioned Exorcist franchise standing at the bottom of my stairs in the shadows.
But, really, no.
That was not hyperbole. These are things that happen in my life on the reg, which is why I will never do hallucinogenic drugs. Because I can only infer that one minute I’ll be laughing and the next minute I’ll be violently rocking myself in the fetal position in a ceramic bathtub, while a stream of water rains down upon me.
Situations exactly like this are the reason why I will never live in apartment or any other form of shelter alone. Not the hallucinogenic part, but the overactive imagination once darkness comes part.
I refuse. Because I know the minute I let my guard down, my body is going to be found months later rotting at the bottom of a stairwell in an abandoned farm house. And, of course, there won’t be any trace of foul play because I will have been killed by a supernatural being.
However, I’m not the only one in my family that is terrified of the potential creatures lurking within the walls of my house.
When my brother and I were about seven and four respectively, my father decided to go out and purchase an old man’s mask for his Halloween costume. Somewhere in between the time when he handed the money over to the cashier to finalize the transaction of the mask and the time he turned the door knob to enter our house, he decided it would be a genius idea to hide in the dark shadows of his family’s house while wearing it in an effort to scare the living shit out of his two small children.
So, there we are. Me and my little brother just running around the house. Most likely emotionally or physically abusing each other in some way, as young siblings often do, when my dad jumps out at us unexpectedly from around a corner wearing said mask.
I was visably shaken for a few seconds. Mainly because you really don’t expect to be accosted by a mask wearing vigilante in your living room when you are 7-years-old. But then I got over it because I knew that it wasn’t a psychotic murderer, but rather my depraved father.
My brother, being 4 and unable to decipher between what is real and what is fantasy, did not fare as well, and just loses his shit and starts screaming. My father, being yet again thrown into a situation where he has no idea how to handle the seemingly endless tears of a small child, pulled off the mask in a desperate attempt to show that it was not a terrifying old stranger, but just dear old dad pulling the old trickeroo.
He then gave the mask to my brother, and was all “Go put it on. See? It’s OK.”
This idea will backfire.
So, my little brother curiously studies the mask in between gasping breaths from crying so hard and finally realizes it really is just a mask and starts laughing. He then foolishly puts the mask on himself and walks into the bathroom to look in the mirror.
The lights in the bathroom are off. It is easily 8pm in mid-October, which is to say, it’s pretty fucking dark in that bathroom.
Poor decision on the little tyke’s part.
Literally seconds later, and I mean seconds, we hear his high pitched screams once again.
Oh, that mask.
It literally devastated him.
Not surprisingly, I’m pretty sure my brother isn’t really all that into Halloween after that. I’m not one hundred percent positive because we really don’t talk about it. As is the case with traumatic childhood experiences, which are best left to fester in the farthest most subconscious part of your mind only to be dug up many years later by a professional therapist that you seek out after you experience the uncontrollable, yet irrational urge to beat an old man with a fire extinguisher.
The Time I Was an Intern
About three weeks ago, I began a new job. Well, technically not a job, but two jobs. Plural. And, not technically two jobs, but two internships. At two separate companies. Because this is the kind of thing that happens to you when you are a comm major.
When I initially found out about this development, I went home and told my roommates aka my parents. One of the truly great things about living with your parents is that they will obsessively hound you with questions on a daily basis, especially when it involves something that will eventually allow you to move the fuck out of their house.
I walk in the door, and I was all screaming like I just won the fucking lottery. In fact, my mother, who was upstairs, yelled back something along the lines of, “SARAH, IF IT’S ANOTHER SPIDER AGAIN, YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO KILL IT YOURSELF.” That’s how loud I was screaming. And you would be too if you were finally free of the cumbersome task of working for a pair of men whose daily actions gave enough probable cause to link them to being direct descendents of Satan.
There were balloons streaming from my ceiling and people were handing me small infants to kiss and my dad just came out of nowhere with a pony named Carl. It was pretty fucking awesome. I was pumped. Because now I get to have one internship where I spend the majority of my day watching footage of people that like to jerk off to pictures of stoves and spray themselves with acid, and another where I basically online shop all day.
I mean, I’m still not quite a real person, but am much more on the path to the career I desire than I was when I was working at a mortgage foreclosure law firm and destroying the American dream for countless faceless Americans.
For that reason, I was laughing manically and like hugging strangers and baking homemade cakes and shit. This came at an amazingly fucking great time because, honestly, if I had to listen to one more irate person calling about their court date or the status of their file I was going to hang myself by my fucking shoelaces.
After I got done blowing bubbles and throwing handfuls of glitter into the air, I realized I now found myself in an entirely new dilemma separate from employment in a field I had absolutely zero fucking interest in and that had the general cheeriness of Alcatraz: I had to meet new people. But not just people, co-workers.
To put it lightly, I am the most painful type of shy in new social situations. In fact, whenever I am on a job interview and they ask to name a weakness, I have to let them in on the fact that it takes me at least three weeks to gather up the courage to make direct eye contact, let alone speak to anyone. This especially applies to the work environment, where my general disposition, humor, and vocabulary use is frowned upon, if not thoroughly shunned. Because that is the case, I make a great effort during my early weeks on the job to censor the grand majority of everything I say before I say it. A lot of the time, I will have summoned up the courage to contribute to a conversation at work, but then I’ll think about the statement that I am about to make, take out the various obscenities found within it, then eliminate the word “dick,” and still end up thinking, “Nope, not this time.”
I’ve come to realize as of late that the majority of this crushing social anxiety occurs at my internship where I do content management for a website.
The thing to know about this office is that the encouraged form of communication is AIM. That’s right, AOL Instant Messenger. Mainly because there’s three floors and it’s a lot easier to send a good ol’ IM than waste time having to pause to stop sweating and catch your breath after walking up a bunch of stairs to ask Ralph in social media what time he’s going to post a client’s advertisement to Facebook.
Like I’m talking this place is fucking dead silent except for the sounds of clicking keyboard keys, which would be maddening, but I listen to music all day to stave off possible desires to put my entire head in a pot of boiling water. Though the silence and all the AIM use are probably to be considered pros, the con of this situation comes from me starting a half hour later from everyone else. Each day I walk in, everyone turns around all startled and shit and is like spilling their coffee and quivering in fear because, after my footsteps get done echoing off the exposed brick walls, it sounds like fucking Godzilla is dropkicking a goddamn skyscraper. So, each day, I avert my eyes to the ground while walking in as if it’s fucking 1300s England and I am passing the fucking king.
Another thing to know is that this company is all about its employees, and goes to great lengths to keep employee morale high. One of these lengths involves buying tons of groceries so everyone can be fat and happy. A grocery item they have that is very near and dear to my heart happens to be Coke Zero. There is Coke Zero everywhere. And I’m talking everywhere. There is easily enough to fill up a bathtub and possibly an entire car’s gas tank. So awesome, right?
The kitchen is an overall daunting mountain just waiting for me to slide the fuck down. You see, it’s out in the open and in the middle of the first floor, so everyone can see, hear, and smell what you’re doing. A normal person in my position would walk up to the fridge, get a soda, maybe take the time to get a cup and some ice, and then sit back down. Not me.
It has taken me two weeks to find the courage within myself to go near the kitchen. And that is solely because I managed to convince myself that I am somehow going to humiliate myself in front of everyone. I’m really not sure how, but I am certain it will happen.
I am well aware right now that no one gives a flying fuck that I’m looking for a Nutri-Grain bar, but in that moment, I have the paranoia of a sixteen-year-old that had two beers and then started the drive home only to come to the grim realization that there is a police cruiser driving behind them. Not that I know what that’s like.
Finally, one day last week came when I actually was quite parched, but still was refusing to make the ten foot pilgrimage to the fridge because I feared everyone would stare at me in confusion and disgust as I would helplessly search around like a blind person trying to locate the brail lettering on the buttons in an elevator.
As I sat there dying of thirst, a little voice in my head began screeching at me, “GODDAMNIT, YOU ARE THIRSTY. THERE IS PROBABLY WEIRD WHITE SHIT ACCUMULATING IN THE CORNERS OF YOUR LIPS BECAUSE YOU ARE SO DEHYRDATED. FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK, GET A FUCKING SODA, YOU FUCKING MORON.”
So, I got up, and I walked to the kitchen, and a few people glanced at me, but I brushed that off because I figured that is a general reaction when a moving object comes into your line of vision.
The kitchen dilemma is cake compared to what strikes the darkest of fears in my heart: meetings.
So, we’re all standing around the room, and everyone is being all outgoing and giggling because they are all creative types and that’s what you do when you have a personality.
I totally would be all cackling and slamming people’s heads through walls as well, but, being that I just started there, I busy myself with spending the majority of my time lurking in the shadows and stomping out internal panic attacks. It being my luck, we, of course, had to do an ice breaker: tell us an interesting fact about yourself. Now, I always come prepared with an arsenal of answers for ice breakers so as to avoid publically humiliating myself in front of my peers. For this particular common ice breaker, I like to go with my Jerry Springer Show experience.
You see, a few years ago, I went to the Jerry Springer show when it was still filmed in Chicago with a few friends. One of my friends took it upon himself to try to verbally vomit in the mouth of a guest on the show during that one last segment where audience members can openly ridicule people that appeared on the show that day. Because my friend did such a fantastic job of slaughtering a poor obese woman with his words, he was featured on the show’s broadcast. And because I just so happened to be sitting next to him as he was stabbing her with phonics, so was I.
Generally for my fact, I like to begin by saying something along the lines of, “My name is Sarah and I was on the Jerry Springer Show.” Because that intrigues people because normally guests on the Jerry Springer Show are dating their dad or else are midgets that just like to beat the shit out of other midgets in a plastic kiddie pool filled with cranberry sauce. Then, when I see that people are slightly shocked and disturbed, I then finish with, “As an audience member, not a guest. Not that that’s any better.” And then everyone laughs and wants to be my friend and gives me approving nods.
Finally, it’s my turn to go, and, by this point, my heart is beating so violently that I can feel it slamming against my spine, convincing me that it probably appears to everyone around me that I am experiencing back spasms. I begin with my opening line, “Hi. I’m Sarah and I was on the Jerry Springer Show.” But then everyone started laughing and talking out of sheer awe at such a volume that no one was able to hear me finish with, “As an audience member, not a guest. Not that that’s any better.”
That’s about the time my face turned the color of a radish. Because now all these strangers I have to see on a semi-daily basis now are under the assumption that I most likely have six children, all of which have been fathered by six different men, and have some sort of predisposition to cooking methamphetamine and getting high off car fumes.
Then, someone asked, “What was the episode about?”
To which I responded, “Some sort of Indian—“ and then I caught myself, “—Native American rain dance.”
And everyone laughed.
And I thought I was in the clear.
And then, a few people down, this man began his interesting fact, “Hi. I’m Brian and I’m 100% Native American.”
And he looked directly at me as he said it.
Like looked me in the fucking eye straight through my soul.
Fuck everything and then some.
After that whole disaster, we then were told to separate into groups based on the type of work you do to better acquaint yourself with the people you’ll be in contact with throughout the upcoming weeks. This posed a major problem for me since I am a mere intern and do whatever I am told to do. That being the case, I really do a hodge podge of random things, and was basically a sort of a nomad in this situation.
I decide to sit down randomly at a table filled with people I don’t know, and then manage to really go out of my way to recreate the experience of dining with Helen Keller. I get easily weirded out when I have to eat in front of people I really don’t know, and because of that I am extremely self conscious and perform my best attempts at trying to eat daintily. As you could probably guess, this did not go over well. I take a small bite of pizza and the next thing I know cheese is like sliding off and shit is just somehow getting smeared all over my face. My hands are somehow just soaked in grease and it appears I am hemorrhaging tomato sauce out of my chest. So then I just give up and decide that I will just stop eating all together because this has all become too much for me.
What feels like years go by, and we are finally allowed to go back to work, where I then sought solace at my desk and made an oath to myself that I will do whatever it takes—even publicly vomit—to get out of future meetings.
The Time I Went to Disney World
Now, this is going to upset members of my extended family, mainly because a select few are like super into Disney World and go at least once a year. Not to mention, two of my cousins went to Florida to participate in the Disney Internship Program. That being said, if you are one of these people that feel like you will become emotionally battered, I encourage you to STOP READING THIS AND DO SOMETHING ELSE.
I went to Disney World when I was ten. I can see how that first sentence could be deceiving. It wasn’t only me on this whimsical excursion. It was my family. My family, consisting of my mother, father, and younger brother, as well as my extended family, which included aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandma. There was a good 13 of us all in the cramped state of Florida. Yes, that humid and often rainy state filled with men dressed as puppets and aging scrotums.
So we get there, and it’s kinda cool. Humid as all shit, but cool. Because I was ten. And probably wearing khaki overalls at the time. Because my mother apparently had a deep seated resentment towards me and expressed it through my clothing.
I mean, I was raised as a girl, so I was very much interested in the whole princess scene, but that enthusiasm abruptly faded once I realized how creepy everyone and everything was. Everywhere you looked people were coming dangerously close to stabbing each other over Disney themed pins. Or licking something sticky off their fingers. Or picking their nose. Or crying.
Though I was a mere child, I thought it was incredibly weird how every adult thought it was completely acceptable to shove your children into the arms of an overgrown mystical woodland creature. In every picture from this trip, my brother and cousins are basically sitting inside one of these demons’ mouths, but you will find me at the end of the line of children smiling. Because I could not even attempt to look into their dead eyes or hear their forced, labored breaths. Plus, the hair on their costumes smelled like sweat and lost hope. That is why, to this day, I don’t trust anyone whose job is to pretend to be a fictional cartoon and hug children all day.
Besides the blatant kidnap-y overtones of the trip, there were a few highlights I’d like to share with you.
The first curious case of the adults collectively dropping the ball miserably occurred when they took the five of us children on a ride simulating a shark attack, complete with a five hundred pound metal shark the size of a Hummer.
Why you would take a bunch of young children on there I will never know. I mean, being the age I was at this time, I had a pretty good handle on reality. However, my brother and cousins ranging from 5-7 did not. They did not at all.
Not surprisingly, this idea was met with screams. Horrible, blood curdling screams, as well as tears streaming down many of their faces. There was also a lot of hugging. Like a lot.
You would think this would have set off a few red flags, to, oh, I don’t know, maybe not take small children to rides that would have a lasting impact on their psyche.
They learned nothing, and proceeded to take us to the alien ride, which Google has informed me was actually called Alien Encounter Extra Terrestrial.
Basically, the premise of this ride is that you are going to see the first alien that science has captured. So you’re sitting in this large room in captain’s chairs around this large capsule that’s supposed to contain the alien specimen. But, in the tradition of Disney, something goes horribly awry and the alien escapes. Before you know it, the lights are off, and there are the sounds of a scientist’s panicked screams. Meanwhile, you’re sitting there strapped into this chair pissing everywhere because you are a ten-year-old and your safety feels dangerously threatened. Especially since you periodically feel wet, hot breath on the back of your neck, the sounds of a creature growing, and its tongue touch your skin.
My brother really didn’t take to this well. I know this because I could hear his panicked screams and feel the wetness of his tears hitting my forearms and face as he thrashed his head and body wildly trying to escape this seatbelted nightmare.
Then, to cap off this trip of horrors, we went on a boat cruise at Epcot that seemed to last seven hundred years. This boat excursion took you on a trip throughout the world, all the while serenading you with “It’s a Small World,” aka the worst fucking sound you will ever experience in your entire life, on repeat. It was the sound of hate. Not to mention, the screeching voices providing the vocals to this song were coming from the mouths of dolls. Terrifying wooden dolls that thrived on fear and the warm blood of children. I would birth a 180 pound human before stepping into that gondola ever again.
After those five days that tried my soul, I returned home, promising myself that I would tuck all these memories deep into the furthest parts of my brain where they will later most likely manifest in the form of a tumor. However, that could not happen. Because I brought home an extra souvenir that, to this day, leaves marks on my face serving as a constant reminder of this journey. No, it was not the trademark Mickey Mouse ears, or a plush Tigger stuffed animal, but Varicella. Commonly known as the chicken pox.
Not surprisingly, while most of the population returned from Disney World filled with magic and memories, I came back experiencing Nam-like flashbacks and covered in rash inducing bacteria like some sort of leper. But while the itching eventually subsided, the chills that assault my spine whenever I hear the faintest notes of “It’s a Small World” remain. Which is why there is a better chance of Mel Gibson wearing a yamaka than me ever returning to Orlando, Florida.
The Time I Went to a Funeral
Now, don’t get all freaked out about the title. I’m gonna take this mother down a couple notches for a few paragraphs, but the side splitting hilarity will come eventually.
And, don’t worry your dear heart, I haven’t gone soft. And this won’t result in a tear filled embrace as seen in the final scene of The Notebook. Which, coincidentally, for someone whose face leaks as much as mine, did not cry neither during nor at the end of that movie.
Probably because they both died at the same time. While spooning. And then it panned to a shot of a frozen lake with birds flying everywhere. And I was like REALLY? This is it? This is the end? For real? But really?
That’s just my opinion.
But anyway, back to the point: my uncle passed away a few months ago, which is totally weird. Because he was the youngest kid on my mom’s side of the family. And people generally tend to assume that people that are younger will outlive people that were born before them. Or at least maybe I just think that. Because I am not one to follow the general ideas of science or natural law.
It was all around pretty weird because this was my first funeral where a) I wasn’t just paying my respects to some old hobgoblin that closely resembled the crypt keeper and b) I was expected to not act like a total asshole (more of that to come later). But he was around kinda a lot, so, ya know, his death was a total bummer.
This event was also especially weird because my aunts and mother foolishly asked me to write a eulogy. Classic mistake. So when my mom popped her head into my room (unannounced and without knocking, per usual) and asked me to write it, I did what I normally do when I am unsure of how to respond to her: just stare blankly and hope she’ll leave quietly without asking any more questions.
I thought I was totally in the clear until about 10 p.m. the night before the funeral. When she asked if I was finished writing it. So that was a panic attack and a half. Mainly because swearing in a house of God is generally frowned upon.
Additionally, it’s really hard to sum up an entire person’s life and try to convey what they meant to a room full of people. Especially when many of them are complete strangers. And not strangers in the way where you’re like, “Oh, I remember that old lady that drives the motorized scooter around is Aunt Phyllis even though I was maybe introduced to her at a family barbeque once a good fifteen years ago while my nose was running and I most likely had some sort of pudding smeared all over my face.” But in the way where you are very much aware that you have never seen this motherfucker before in your life. Ever. And that is absolutely terrifying because as I tried to write a semi-nonoffensive summary of my uncle’s life, I started to freak the shit out. Mainly because of strangers like Pete, or Winnie, or whoever the fuck else sat in the cubicle next to him for 20 some odd years that would be staring me down in silent judgment.
Like all I know is that whenever my wild, baboon heart gives out, some poor asshole is gonna have to make my life sound somewhat pious. And good luck to you, good sir or madam with that task. But so help me God, if they fuck that up I will make it my life’s mission to shit on their face. Metaphorically, of course.
But nonetheless, I put a lot of (possibly) unnecessary pressure on myself to write a somewhat non-shitty account of his life.
Now it’s the time where I’m sitting in church. The casket’s in front. Various members of my family are doing that awkward thing where they’re blatantly crying, but force one of those smile/sneer things that only makes their face look absolutely horrifying whenever I make eye contact with them and then nod at me. Because I guess that’s what you do at funerals: fake smile and nod. My leg is all bobbing spastically as it seemed like it took 19 hours for the priest to get to the part where he gave me the little head nod go ahead. And then I’m sitting there and my nose is itching and I’m legitimately praying to God that my nose doesn’t fucking open up and begin spraying blood over me and my cousins sitting around me with the violent force one often sees when someone takes a large hatchet to a fire hydrant. Then couple that with the fact I was wearing a black dress, as is customary for situations of mourning, but made the amateur mistake of choosing one that had a deep V-neck, which proudly displayed my fear hives that only multiplied in both number and general size as the seconds ticked on. And then tack on to that the fact that my cousins that were sitting around me are mental terrorists that kept asking me if I was going to trip on the altar in my heels.
At this point, I was milliseconds away from dry swallowing a handful of Xanax.
Eventually, I went up, and said my little diddy. And people in the pews cry-smile-nodded at me the whole time. And then it was over. And my heartbeat once again returned to normal resting rate. But no one ran up to me as I was stepping down from the altar and threw a bucket of blood over me, and it appears I haven’t been haunted and/or smited (as of yet), so I assume the big guy appreciated what I had to say.
I would like to take this moment to thank God, as well as all mystical creatures of magic, because at this particular moment in time, my younger cousin, Marissa, had chosen a hair color much similar to mine, which was totally awesome. Because everyone kept going up to her to congratulate her on her awesome speech, while I slinked away to the car unnoticed. And by slinked away, I mean fucking bolted immediately after the casket left the church.
So we did the whole burial thing that day, and now my mom’s side of the family is just chock full of ovary slingers. Which is completely terrifying.
However, my dad’s side of the family is huge. I’m talking comparable in size to that seen within the walls of a Mormon compound in the mountains of Utah.
That being the case, not surprisingly, this was not my first funeral. First eulogy. But definitely not my first funeral.
My Grandma D. is 91-years-young and is the oldest of 7 children. And then each of her siblings went on to have at least three children. And those children went on to have three children. And everyone is close in age. What this means is that I see a good portion of cousins that normal people only see at weddings and such on the reg. This is especially true for when there was a funeral. Which seemed to be every two to three weeks.
On my mom’s side of the family, I am the oldest, but on my dad’s side of the family, my brother and I are close to the youngest (not counting the plethora of young babies, but that would be getting into intense 4th and 5th cousin territory where you are barely related except for maybe the same last name and a few extraneous genes.), which means there is a HUGE power shift for me.
No longer am I the one systematically hazing the small children, but I’m on the receiving end. I mean now, I just say something along the lines of “I will make you eat that brick,” or “I’m going to shove a hammer up your asshole if you even attempt to try to hold me down and cover my face in bologna,” or the simplest of go tos: “I’ll tell Grandma.” But, back then, it was absolutely terrifying and I lived in constant fear. Especially when I was a glasses wearing, bowl haircutted youngster. Because I had no defense mechanisms. I was defenseless. Utterly defenseless.
Like to this day, I am pretty much devastatingly shy, but I force myself to do and say things that internally make me feel incredibly uncomfortable, yet do them so as to not look like a total freak of nature that is just breaking out in hives and inadvertently staring out from the darkest shadows of corners of rooms. Back then, I was just a silent walking bag of bones that blushed.
Another weird thing to note is that I spent a lot of time in funeral homes growing up. Not in like a weird way. I’m not sexually attracted to dead bodies and do not find the smell of large floral arrangements arousing in any sense. It’s just that being that there were so many fucking people on my dad’s side, many of them were easily 75+ in the age bracket, so peeps were dropping off left and right. Like I’m talking putting up bubonic plague-like numbers.
That being the case, as a wee human, I was no stranger to the cycle of two day wake, followed by church, followed by trip to the cemetery, followed by super Polish banquet hall where we would all do really Polish things, such as speak in Polish, drink heavily, and eat polish food like pierogis and kielbasa. And everyone would laugh until everyone got wasted and then would eventually stop laughing and head to their cars after the fight that would inevitably occur.
However, there was one particular moment that occurred during one of these Dembkowski family funerals that almost caused me to piss my pants. And I was probably about eight when this happened so that pants pissing would have probably been accompanied by some sort of suicide note.
So me and all my cousins are at some funeral for some great aunt or uncle or sheep dog. And, per usual, we’re fucking around. My brother and I were at this point no strangers to fucking around during extremely inappropriate times, seeing as at a funeral prior, my brother had somehow lost his shoe by kicking it on top of the establishment where the wake was being held.
Still unsure how/why that happened.
Once again, to reiterate, I am super shy. Cripplingly shy some might say. I know I do. And when I was little it was even worse because I was just this crazy looking kid with horrible dental work and a fucking bowl haircut of strawberry blond hair (always interested to know where those genes came from) just staring at people and then running and hiding behind doors/people’s legs/planks of wood/cereal boxes, ect. Yet, at the same time, I had this opposing force in me of desperately wanting my older cousins to think I was the fucking coolest.
My brother was adorable and lacked any form of fear of bodily injury/nerve endings, so he was always in high demand at these functions to get shit thrown at him or be used as a human football or taste test something they found under a couch.
Needless to say I was jealous.
Like completely and totally fucking jealous.
Now, every once in a while, one of my various degrees of cousins would have a heart and notice me standing alone staring and would be all, “Sarah, can I pick you up so you can shimmy across this dangerously thin tree branch to get the Nerf football we threw up there?” And in my head, I’d be all “YES, DESPERATELY SO. PLEASE PICK ME UP. PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO ME IN ANY SORT OF WAY. I WILL EVEN LET YOU HURL ME DOWN A HALLWAY FILLED WITH BROKEN GLASS BOTTLE SHARDS IF YOU WILL THINK I AM COOL FOR 15 SECONDS.” But at the same time I was internally having a massive panic attack, so I was all “Merrrr” and would stand there wordlessly and blush. And then everyone would kinda awkwardly shuffle around for a while and then grow tired and finally be all, “Well, what the fuck is it going to be, kid?
And I’d just continue standing there probably staring at the floor and wringing my hands violently and not say anything and then a squirrel would run by and they’d all decide to chase it down and/or throw objects at it. And completely forget all about me.
And then I’d continue to stand there dying inside for probably hours or even days.
However, there are always times when I try to pin down my shyness. And I mean just throw a used pillowcase over its head and hold it down and beat the living shit out of it. But, as is my life, the times I normally do this backfire on me miserably leaving me deep psychological and emotional scars, but, ya know, fuck it, YOLO, bro.
This time in question, I couldn’t help but notice my older guy cousins running around shoving each other and sprinkling those disgusting little cookies that are always in the lounge area over each other’s heads. Ya know, to make it look like they had dandruff. LOL! Kids.
They’re all heehawing with their buttondowns all untucked, sleeves rolled up, just trolling the fuck out of each other. I took it all in and saw this scene happening, and realized that I wanted in.
I wanted in in the worst of ways.
So I’m standing within the entryway to the lounge psyching myself up and excruciatingly slowly but steadily begin my approach to the group.
That’s when I saw Justin notice me standing a good 30 feet behind all of them anxiously tugging at the hem of my dress and say, “Hey, Sarah, want to see something cool?”
Now, this could very well be a trap, actually, I knew it was a trap, but I didn’t care. Because my plan was going amazingly. And nothing could fail me now.
At least I thought.
But I could really care less because, at this moment in time, I was so fucking jazzed that I was not only readily accepted into their circle of mayhem, but was ACTUALLY directly addressed. I would have literally lit myself on fire at this point because I felt that invincible.
So I followed Justin and the rest of his goon squad down a few flights of stairs and passed a door marked “private.” I knew it said “private” because I was eight, and, thus, could fucking read.
Being that this wasn’t my first rodeo at this Niles funeral home, I was a tad concerned because I had never been in this part of the building before. Nothing looked familiar. And I was starting to get the feeling that something was going to go horribly wrong.
That’s about the time that Justin led the seven of us to a door at the very end of the hallway and stopped. Then he suggested that we play a game. I could sense life as I knew it was about to go awry in the most haunting of ways, but, at the same time, I could also sense that the majority of people I was with were pretty uneasy. This would be my moment to shine.
Plus, my brother still remained on the staircase all the way back down the hall, so I definitely had to show his ass up.
“Who’s in?” Justin asked.
“I AM!”-my little self squeaked.
That’s when I learned the rules of the game. This is when I also learned to listen to the rules of any game before volunteering yourself to be involved in said game.
Basically, from what I understood, is that the whole point of the game was to see who could go the farthest to the door. It seemed pretty stupid at the time, but then again, everyone else seemed to know something that I didn’t, and hence, were much more apprehensive than I was. Liam took it upon himself to tell me at this time that there were dead bodies in that room. However, Liam also once told me that boogers change into the color of a rainbow when you put them on your tongue, and I had since invalidated that theory, so I was a tad hesitant to believe him.
We begin playing, each person taking their turn. I’m giggling because everyone is egging me on to go father and father down the hall. Eventually, we’re standing in front of the door, and Justin dares someone to see if it’s open. Craig turns the handle slightly and says it’s unlocked. Justin then asks if anyone wants to open the door. Everyone is quiet.
“I WILL!” I yell, quite proud of myself for being so bold.
I open the door, for maximum badass appeal, and step slightly into the doorway. Before I knew what was happening, I was pushed into the room and the door was slammed behind me.
And for a second I was really confused as to where I was and what had happened to me.
“Hey!” I yelled, and tried turning the knob.
Nothing except the Satanic cackles of their laughter from the outside.
I turned around. That’s when my eyes slightly adjusted and I could make out the form of various metal tables. Well, this was not familiar, but was familiar at the same time. And then I knew exactly where I was.
Important side note: I am really into weird shows about curious things that the majority of civilization doesn’t care/want to know about (For example: I just watched a show where they interviewed this dude whose profession is to prepare all the bones and skeletons for museums and displays and shit. So, around the clock on the reg he gets trucks driving up with like decaying horse legs and human skulls and shit, and his entire job is to clean the bones of all the muscle, and fat, and meat. Weird, I know. Also, massively interesting.), and have been this way since I was little. Not to mention, my parents censored very little, if anything, from me growing up. So the weird shit I would stumble upon cable-wise spanned far and wide. It being my luck, this event correlated with my recent first viewing of a little show on HBO called Autopsy. So that was pretty fucking perfect timing.
Never in my life have I been so fucking scared. My heart was pounding in my asshole. I was sweating. I had that weird shallow breathing happening. Because I was very much aware I was in the embalming room of a funeral home. As well as very aware that ghosts/demons/vampires/zombies all involve dead humans. So my imagination was just kicking into overdrive. Like I’m talking imagine Woodstock. You just pounded about 8 hits of acid and let it roll because, fuck it, free love. And everything is going cool until you’re like “Why is that purple elephant to my left glaring at me? What did I do to him? Why does he have a puppy in his hand? OH MY GOD, HE JUST KILLED IT. THAT FUCKING ELEPHANT JUST KILLED A HELPLESS PUPPY IN FRONT OF MY EYES! WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN? IS THERE A GOD?” Those type of fucking weird tricks occurring before your eyes paranoia.
So my little tiny eight-year-old self is standing there. Screaming violently and pulling as hard as I can on the door while I listen to those degenerates outside laughing, as they continue to hold the door shut.
If you couldn’t tell, my cousins are dicks. Total fucking dicks.
Then, about 16 years later, they finally let go, but I was still yanking at the door super hard, so I fell backwards and I knocked something over. And to this day I am still unsure what it was exactly because I didn’t give a shit because I wasn’t about to look behind me to see a demon with red eyes that had come back from the dead and was just waiting to sink it’s crusty long fangs into the virginal blood of an eight-year-old girl.
Fuck that noise.
So I escaped, and did what any shy child would do: wipe the tears from my eyes, avoid eye contact with anyone while sprinting back up the stairs, shove my tiny brother for absolutely no reason, and then resume plotting the next way I could make my cousins think I was totally fucking cool.
The Time I Babysat
Though my general demeanor may lead you to believe otherwise, I am quite good with small children. No, really. It’s totally true. Probably because I speak to them as if they were a normal grown real human being. Except for my usual constant use of swearing and threats, at least.
I just think it’s annoying the moment someone begins spitting all over themselves and speaking in tones comparable to a dog whistle whenever they see a tiny human weighing under 35 pounds in their line of sight.
Like you are not getting through to that kid. THEY DO NOT KNOW WHERE THEY ARE. They probably don’t even know their own name. Can they even see in color? These are all things I don’t know and really don’t care to know until it is of pertinent necessity to me aka the time when one of these fuckers comes barreling through my body ripping my vagina into my asshole.
So, until that moment, I could care less.
People will be like, “DO YOU WANT TO HOLD THE BABY?!?!?! HERE, COME ON, CODDLE THIS 7 POUND SPONGEY CREATURE. BUT HOLD ITS HEAD CORRECTLY OR ELSE IT WILL SNAP ITS SPINE AND YOU WILL BE SENT TO JAIL FOR MURDER. AND THEN EVERYONE YOU’VE EVER LOVED WILL FUCKING HATE YOU. BECAUSE YOU JUST KILLED A TINY BABY.”
And I’m just like awkwardly standing there like “Uhhh…” as every relative of mine is like in a semi circle leaning over this tiny infant and probably stealing all of its air and breathing millions of unknown microorganisms on it, so I grab a 5 pound block of pepperoni and am like, “Well, maybe after I finish this block of meat.”
And don’t even get me started on feeling the baby kick. Do not even fucking ask me. Just don’t. Like I don’t want my skin to make contact through your skin with another breathing human that is living inside your body stealing all of your nutrients and preparing to rip you apart.
That is some crazy science fiction bullshit that I cannot even begin to start processing.
The even more confusing thing about all of this is that, despite my obvious disgust for the entire birthing process from womb to talcum smelling toddler, for some reason, small children are always crawling all over me and desperately reaching their arms at me to be picked up. There is some sort of attraction. And I mean, generally it’s cool because kids have a tendency to say hilarious things and imagine things that I don’t think even an individual on the most potent cocktail of PCP could produce.
And, don’t get me wrong, children are fucking adorable, but to a point.
That point usually comes about 15 seconds to two minutes after I’ve laid eyes on their pudgy little cheeks.
Like my heart is not made out of tin. I look at a small child in a sundress and possibly a matching bonnet and my hearts melts. But then they start drooling. And shitting. And crying. And like shoving Cheerios up their nose. And then I am over it.
I once witnessed the cutest little baby shit all over the backseat of a car while I was in it. To make it worse, the seats were made of fabric and the heat was blasting. Do you know what a three-day-old corpse smells like? Well, guess what, after this experience I have a pretty good idea. And any sort of chocolate smoothie-like concoction has forever been ruined for me. So fuck you, baby.
I mean, there are small children in my family. One of them is beyond adorable. However, no matter how precious that little girl with blond ringlets may be, after having to carrying her 50 pound lifeless corpse around a house because she wants to play sick baby seal, (A game which involves her hiding from me, then continuously yelling for me to come find her, then me having to carry her around to yet another site she deems appropriate to pretend to sleep, only to have her hide from me again while speaking in some sort of seal/otter dialect she fabricated in her brain.) I could throw her in front of a speeding semi with little sense of regret.
So all of this child involvement during family get togethers was basically more than enough interaction between me and wee humans.
Then I became a babysitter.
Because I was poor and needed money.
And I distinctly remember my godmother being like, “You?” Someone is allowing you to watch their children? Completely unattended?”
And yes, yes they were. For reasons that I am still unclear about.
The first kid I babysat was a little angel. His parents were hippies from California, and were in town working on a movie for the summer. Being that they were hippies, he was super into his feelings. He was also involved in many strange hobbies; one of which was parkour. Which, if you don’t know, is this, I don’t even know what to call it because I am unsure if it qualifies as a sport, but basically you throw your body off high things and like climb shit and run really fast and somersault on objects without getting hurt.
Remarkably, we got along quite well for the following two reasons 1) he was obsessed with wrestling and 2) he did whatever I would fucking say.
A dark secret of mine is that, since the age of 11, I’ve been an avid fan of the then WWF, now WWE. Not really sure why, but it probably has something to do with all the physical violence and lunacy that takes place during each action packed show. My little 8-year-old bud felt the same way; specifically, about the Hardy Boys.
I can’t even count the times I would enter the hippies’ apartment to see his him shirtless staring at himself in the bathroom mirror and painting his face white. Half the time I babysat him he looked like a fucking stunt double in The Crow.
In all honestly, as long as the kid wasn’t trying to stab himself with a knife or watching weird Anime porn, I could really give a shit what he was doing. In fact, I would egg him on. Oh, you want to crawl up your dresser and then flip onto your bed? You say you want to do a swanton bomb from off your window ledge? OK. Have at it, little dude.
However, it wasn’t all laughter and bear hugs. One time he got quite mad because I wouldn’t let him attempt to jump off the side of a banister into the grass.
This led him to stomp off all crazy-like. And in my head I was like “Oh shit, it’s gonna take me like four years to get him to eat his quinoa and kale now.” (His mom was super earth loving. Once again, hippies.)
And then, to my surprise, he came back a few moments and was like, “Sorry, Sarah. I’m mad at the situation, not at you.”
I am mad at the situation, not you.
You read that correctly.
This came from the mouth of an 8-year-old boy. I am 23-years-old and never in my life have I ever come close to saying something that mature.
So, obviously, I just stood there in disbelief.
All in all, besides the days when I would have to narrate a wrestling match for an hour and a half between Matt Hardy and The Undertaker, life was pretty good. I made legit money for working a few hours a day and reading the Hunger Games by the pool.
As stated previously, the second reason why we got along so well was because he would do whatever I said. And it was fucking fantastic. Like there were many times when it was bright outside and I just couldn’t muster up the strength to officiate/announce a 45 minute wrestling match against himself again, so I would draw the blinds and tell him it was time for bed. And even though it was only 6:30 and the sun brightly shone, that little trooper would climb into bed without a peep.
Talk about an angel.
However, the second child I watched in the fall was, how can I put this delicately, a TOTAL FUCKING NIGHTMARE.
This kid, a 7-year-old boy, and his sister, a 13-year-old girl, are the two reasons I am seriously contemplating getting a hysterectomy. Just to make sure I never unleash such similar hellish beasts from my womb into this world.
They seriously were awful. Just awful.
I mean, I basically ignored the 13-year-old because she was all punk and shit, so she scared me. And, being that at her age, I too, was into that lifestyle, I knew that she fucking hated me and would never listen to anything I said. One day, she came out of her room covered in paint. I then realized she had thrown paint all over her walls. But did I say anything? No. Because I valued my life. Also I’m pretty sure she was high all the time. I know this because I am familiar with the scent of marijuana. But alas, I wasn’t trying to get stabbed, so I let her come and go as she pleased. In fact, most of the time I completely ignored her.
My few interactions with her only occurred when I was forced to step in, such as the time she took it upon herself to heat up a frying pan for a good five minutes and then chase her brother around the house with it in an attempt to horrifically burn him.
Don’t’ feel bad for him. He deserved it.
In fact, I feel a strange sense of awe and appreciation toward her because she attempted to harm the 7-year-old on a daily basis in ways that I could only daydream about.
I probably should pump the breaks here for a sec and give you a little background on the monstrosity that I watched.
Where do I even begin?
So he was seven. He was also super destructive and never listened to anything I said. He referred to me as “bitch” so much that, at one point, I honestly assumed that’s what he thought my name was. After school, he would come home and hurl his shoes at the sliding glass door. When I would try to help him do his homework, he constantly tried to stab me with a pencil. One time, I was nice and let him built a model house or some shit with a hot glue gun; while I was reading, he put searing hot glue on the top of my hand. And then laughed. He also was regularly trying to kick his dogs in the manner one might punt a football. He often would flee from the house causing me to frantically look for him. And whenever I would finally lose my shit and start yelling at him, he would start crying with the passion and volume of someone that was burning alive and then go hide somewhere in the house for hours at a time.
Talk about a total asshole.
Not that I normally pick on kids, but I am going to now. Because this kid sucked. Just totally sucked. Like have you ever voluntarily drunk a cup of pickle juice in exchange for a child to sit fucking quietly and watch Nick Jr? Because I have. And now I know why there is a strict policy not to negotiate with terrorists.
Besides being emotionally and physically abusive to any creature in the same room as him, this kid was grossly out of shape. He would come home and eat like a whole Tupperware container full of spaghetti and then finish off half an economy sized bag of Totino’s. And I will be the first to admit, Totino’s are delicious, but after a point it’s like Jesus Christ.
I mean, I probably should have stopped him from eating so much, being that I was in charge and all, but I was just so enthralled by watching someone of his stature just devour an entire family of four’s leftovers in one sitting. It was like watching the Discovery Channel when they show a ball python unhinging its jaw so it could eat an entire muskrat or weasel or whatever small, hairy floor dwelling critters exist in the African jungle in one bite.
However, despite his regular high caloric intake, he never could just sit the fuck down and do normal kid things like play video games or watch TV. He always wanted to be playing soccer or like riding around on a scooter or some shit. Which will always be surprising to me because he was the fattest child alive.
But, I will always blame myself for this horrific experience. I should have known shit would go downhill after the first fucking day when I had to full on sprint about a mile and a half after a fucking cocker spaniel, which, might I add, are the dumbest fucking creatures given the opportunity to roam God’s earth, let alone set foot on American soil. Not to mention, this runaway hound was DESPERATE for attention. Like any time I would sit, stand, look away, this little fucker would run or sit on my lap. Or whine. After about 45 minutes, I was about ready to fucking bash its brains in with a tea kettle, and then rub the entrails all over the little asshole kid to scar him for life.
Besides that dog, Mo Mo, let’s call him, they also owned another spaniel-type dog that hated every human being under the sun. The first time I set foot in that house it chased me around snarling to the point where I had to jump on top of the counter top and wait for him to retreat into the darkness.
In fact, when I went for my interview, this dog growled at me in such a way that I have never experienced before. Side note: run the other way as fast as you can when any parent describes their two children as “a handful.” Like I’m talking jump through the goddamn window if you have to to get to your car more quickly.
So let’s just take a quick second to make sure you understand the setting. Basically I was getting paid absolute shit to watch one mentally retarded dog, one dog that craved human flesh, one emo teenage girl, and a hobgoblin.
I would tell you how much I was paid per hour, but I’d probably get kicked in the face for dealing with these demons for as long and for as little pay as I did. Just imagine how much you think a child in India, possibly missing one or more fingers, slaving away in a sweatshop makes on a daily basis. Now subtract $3, and that’s about how much I made per day.
The only thing that allowed me to get through this experience without causing serious harm to myself or those rat faced brats was that I kept reminding myself that, 1) despite generous supporting evidence, he was not a direct descendent of Satan and thus, drenching him in lighter fluid and setting him ablaze while he was tied to a stake would not be seen as a heroic action and 2) they were not my children.
I will literally get on my knees and thank God every day for that.
And if that isn’t enough reason for preventative birth control, I sure have no idea what the hell is.
The Time I Sang “Sweet Caroline”
This story was made possible by the game of bags.
For those of you that have just woken up in a stone crypt from a 200 year sleep, bags is this game people play where you stand about 32 feet apart from each other and throw little cloth satchels filled with beans or corn kernels toward a wooden box in the hopes of one of the satchels falling into a hole cut into the middle of said box. If the satchels fall on the box or into the hole, your team earns points, and everybody cheers and loves you. If they don’t land on the box or go into the hole, you don’t receive any points, and everyone spits in your direction and hurls bars of soap at your head.
Some people also refer to this game as “corn hole.” I know I don’t.
My father, for one, loves bags. I would even go as far as to describe his devotion as borderline obsessive. Probably because they closely resemble a game he and my mother played in their drunken twenty-something youth: horseshoes.
I have seen him come very close to extinguishing another human’s life by way of curb stomping over this game. There have been many times with the game on the line where shit would get to a point where you knew there was a very slim chance this would end with a hearty chuckle and a stiff handshake. I’m talking like a 17-18 score type sitch. There he’d be pacing along the street. Hat backwards. Constantly swearing. And I would just be watching this scene unfold before my eyes just praying to the gods and lighting incense that he would win because otherwise shit was going to go downhill all too quickly.
Like he takes this shit seriously.
How serious, you ask?
Well, this one time, in the middle of a game, my brother, who happened to be my father’s partner and is very gifted in the areas of all things sports, was not playing so well. My dad, not wanting to publically lose in front of his friends and family, ordered my brother to leave the game and played the rest of the game on his own.
He axed a product of his own loins all in the name of victory.
Now that is some truly cold shit.
It’s not just bags though. Games of H.O.R.S.E., poker, Wii bowling, drinking water the most quickly, zipping up a coat. Anything and everything has the potential to turn into a competition with him.
Unfortunately, being that I have 50% of this man’s DNA, I am no different when it comes to matters of competition. Whenever the opportunity to tally a point is available, I just about begin salivating at the mouth. I have literally come dangerously close to ripping out someone’s throat during a game of Apples to Apples. And that is a card game. A fucking card game.
You should have seen me during the glory days of my athletic prowess, aka ages 11-14, when I was the starting power forward for St. Josaphat school’s girls’ basketball team. Really not sure why we played in the Cholo league across town, considering there were many other Catholic elementary schools in close proximity, but we did, and that is neither here nor there. Anyways, we played with children that looked like they had just gotten off the bus from juvie. You know, parents with knuckle tattoos, airbrushed white t-shirts with graffiti writing, a lot of people referring to their children as “Mijo” or “Mija.” And then there was our side of the bleachers filled with parents sitting there looking white as rice, and constantly checking for the whereabouts of their wallets and purses.
Meanwhile, I was out there attempting to box out little Hispanic girls that may have been short, but had gladiator-like brute strength. Like I’m pretty positive I saw two of them physically lift up one of my teammates, throw her towards half court, and then begin ruthlessly stomping on her. For a second, I thought my 13-year-old self was watching a gang initiation. And that was just during the pre-game free throw shooting. So there I’d be standing under the basket taking elbows to the temple and trying to avoid having my goddamn eyeballs gouged out all in the name of scoring a point off an offensive rebound.
But not gonna lie, it’s not like I sat there helplessly in the fetal position while all of this was occurring. I was not above elbowing girls in the sternum, clawing at faces, or yanking a ponytail or two. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I easily could have been an extra in the movie Dangerous Minds.
However, this physical aggression wasn’t just reserved for opposing teams; being that I am completely emotionally unstable in the face of competition, my passion for doing anything for the sake of victory also carried over towards my own teammates during practices. We could have been sharing a piece of chocolate cake while talking about our most private of dreams seconds before practice, but the minute we stepped onto the hardwood during a scrimmage and you were wearing a different colored pinney, you were nothing more to me than another bag of flesh for me to kick the shit out of.
The hatred in my heart as a result of this extreme and often psychotic sense of competition, combined with the fact that our coach was a player on the Chicago Sky and taught us to play scrappy, led to a lot of high tensions and elbow induced skirmishes.
And I will forever have a fucked up lip to prove it. Goddamn you, Paola, wherever you and your fucking flagrant fouls are.
In fact, had I not already gotten a stupid heart tattoo on my back or a grammatically incorrect one in another language on my wrist like a total asshole, I probably would have seriously considered getting “pain is temporary, victory is forever.”
Am I serious or am I not serious?
Even I’m not really that sure.
But anyways, back to Len; besides our similar competitive spirit, I’ve inherited many other characteristics from Lenny D, as I like to affectionately call him when not speaking directly to him, such as a large gap in my teeth, which before the heavenly miracle of orthodontics, was able to fit one regulation size Tootsie pop stick in between them, and my cackle. Which, if you haven’t been present to it, thank God every day. Because it is ear splitting. And I may even go as far as to describe it as haunting.
But, most importantly, I also received his love of tom foolery.
And that is where our story officially begins.
So, this story settles around an underage drinking party. Which, not even going to lie, I fucking begged to have. But begged in a way that was demeaning to me as a person. Like I bet people that have had a glock pointed at their temple in the middle of a dark alley prayed and promised less than I did.
Why all this embarrassment and begging, you ask? Well, it was because I was 20-years-old and, until this point, had never had anyone over to underage drink in my house because I lived the farthest south out of all my friends in a suburb no one gives a flying fuck about and I am convinced my parents had made some sort of pact to never go out of town together throughout the course of my teenage years. And never being allowed the privilege of hosting a group of children pounding beers in a packed, sweaty basement is the very definition of un-American.
So, one humid day during July, I finally decided that today would be the day that I was going to approach Karen, aka the woman that birthed me, with this idea of having a few of my closest buddies over to have a leisurely drink or 16. So, there I am, pacing around my basement psyching myself up by listening to some DMX, and like practicing my monologue in the mirror and shit. And after a good baker’s dozen edits and satisfactory pauses in all the right places, I finally gather up the courage to walk upstairs and speak with my mom.
Now, unlike the majority of civilization, I have always been very hesitant to ask for just about anything. So this whole scenario I was embarking on was incredibly difficult for me because one of what I presume to be my many undiagnosed social anxiety issues is asking anyone for any sort of favor. I’ve done a lot of soul searching about it in the past and to this day am not really sure why this is. Just know that it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I’d say even more uncomfortable than the time I got my period during 7th grade while I was wearing khaki pants and it looked like I had sat on a liquefied 10 pound infant. And then I cried so hard that I had to take a nap in the nurse’s office.
Go pre-teen years!
But enough about my shedding uterine lining. This whole gut wrenching fear of asking for anything goes for literally every human being. Whether I’ve known you for 23 years or 23 seconds, I just about start to hive the fuck out when I realize with horror that I will have to ask for something.
I would liken the feeling I get to picking up a used bandage covered in old dried blood. Let’s even go as far as to say it is stuck on a baby’s face. And you are the only one around. Like you know you have to go ahead and touch this disgusting thing, and it will make your life and this innocent child who has just happened to be too curious and in the wrong place at the wrong time’s life better, but you have to psyche yourself up because, odds are, you’re going to dry heave at least once in the process.
Being on the receiving end of my question is probably no cup of tea either. Because the moment I begin asking I get all spazzy because my heart is beating like it belongs to the fattest human alive that has just decided to finally lose the weight because their doctor was like “JACK, IF YOU CONTINUE TO EAT THIS WAY, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. DO YOU WANT TO SEE YOUR KIDS GROW UP, JACK. DO YOU? BECAUSE YOUR CARDIAL SAC BEING COVERED IN ABOUT TWO INCHES THICK OF BACON FAT IS TELLING ME NO”. And now Jack is on day one of his weight loss regimen and is just trying his hand at his first set of 10 jumping jacks that he hasn’t even attempted to do in years. And so, as a result of that, my voice is all high and I start talking all fast and in varying high tones. It basically sounds like when you hit play on a tape in your VCR while pressing fast forward. There is also a lot of awkwardly placed forced laughter. A lot.
So onward I quickly press on in my dwarf voice.
“Mom, could I have some of my friends over one weekend?”
And she looked at me all bored-like and was all, “Yeah, I guess.”
Probably because she was genuinely curious as to if I had friends, and that the people I was talking about weren’t just figments of my imagination. All this time I could have been making up all these people and saying I was going out, only to take the car and sit in it for five hours at a time reading and eating entire blocks of cheese.
It probably wouldn’t have surprised her.
And being that this occurred at the awkward age of 20 when you’re just a confused soul running around the world no longer a teenager, but still unable to legally purchase alcohol, yet still being ballsy enough to crack open a cold one in front of relatives at family parties while trying to be nonchalant about the whole thing, I decided to push the envelope and tacked on very quietly and while in the process of walking away, “And we’ll be drinking.” And then once again perked up in a loud and clear voice, “Yay! I’m excited!” As I began to sprint towards the stairs.
With her back toward me while making some sort of dumpling concoction on the stove, she violently shook her head, “No, Sarah; no; I don’t like that. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have you guys up here drinking. I can’t be responsible for all your friends.”
And I said “Mom, nothing will happen.”
And then even more annoyed , but still under control she said, “Sarah, I said no.”
Most people would probably end the conversation when they were horribly shut down. However, most people aren’t me. And being that I am incredibly stubborn and do not take no for an answer in any dimension of my life, I pressed on like a cold and barefoot child soldier during the War of 1812. “Mom, seriously. We’re in college. I drink. You know I drink. You know my friends drink. I’m going to be 21 in like six months.”
It’s probably best to let it be known that I did not say this in a polite, controlled manner, but with the passion and volume of someone that was having a pleasant conversation with a good friend, only to scream “WATCH OUT!” as they realize in terror that a large semi-truck driven by a completely blacked out driver was barreling straight towards them.
Welcome to the battle zone that was Karen and my conversations.
And then she stopped cooking, and turned around to look at me, which was how I knew I was about to be totally fucked, and was all, “I SAID NO, SARAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
And then she morphed into a wolverine and ruthlessly attacked a small duckling that had carelessly wandered into the kitchen.
So I stared at her. And she stared at me. And then she turned back to the stove thinking she had sufficiently crushed my dreams. Not so. Not to be deterred, I did what I normally did when my mom didn’t give me permission to do something that I ever so desperately wanted to do: went and asked my dad.
I head outside in search of him, and find him sitting in the garage drinking beer, smoking a cigar, or “stogie” as he often calls them, and listening to Dave Matthews. At this particular point in the summer, he had become heavily emotionally invested in their live CD. This will come to play a crucial part in future events.
When I evaluate the situation and decide he appears to be in high spirits, mainly because the saxophone player was doing an intense solo, I pranced up to him in a manner normally seem by members auditioning for the Geoffrey ballet complete with a huge smile on my face.
“Hey, dad…” I began, but soon realized he was too busy air drumming to notice me.
“Dad,” I tried again.
And with an annoyed look on his face, he took the cigar out of his mouth, and grudgingly turned the music down.
“What?” he asked.
“Can I have friends over?”
And still with the annoyed look on his face, said “Yea, whatever,” and began to turn the music up again.
“We’re probably going to drink if that’s OK,” I yelled.
And he just nodded and waved me off and once again resumed air drumming.
At this point, I knew I had to throw out the big guns to really make this idea come to fruition.
“Dad, my friends want us to have a bags tournament.”
And he stopped midway between attempting to lift the cigar back to his mouth; and he looked at me with pure happiness in his eyes and said, “Really?”
“When would we have it?” he asked.
“Whenever you want.”
“Could I invite some of my friends, too?”
“Of course,” I answered with a heart now filled with excitement and joy.
And then he went on to add, “You know what we really should do is sing ‘Sweet Caroline’ before the championship match.”
OK, that seemed fair enough.
I mean, we were white after all.
We then went on to scheme about the people we would invite. And being that Len loves to bet and/or win sums of money on sporting events, demanded that each team have to pay to play.
The day finally comes, and Len has somehow worked his voodoo charm on Karen and she has begrudgingly agreed to let my underage friends over to drink as long as 1) no one drives and 2) everyone sleeps over.
However, while she is all giggles and hugs to all my extended relatives that are pulling up the driveway coming to experience this event, she nonchalantly drags her finger across her throat whenever our eyes meet. Signaling that there is a great chance that I am going to die very soon. Most likely by her hands.
I make it a point throughout the day to continuously reassure her that nothing bad is going to happen, only to have her respond to me by hissing like a cat.
I mean, it couldn’t right? People had fallen down the stairs and smashed their noses open. Crashed into fire hydrants and been put into a dog cage. Threw fake rubber boob inserts at large picture windows with great force and driven on public sidewalks while chain smoking Marlboro Reds. And the cops never came. Not once. Not ever.
Surely it would not happen to me.
During the one time EVER I have people over.
So the start time was scheduled for 4 p.m. The time eventually turns into 5:30 p.m. and not a bag had yet to be thrown. So now Len is getting super pissed because the night before me and my roommate, who was in from Jersey, decided to drive up to Brutus’ family’s lake house about two hours away in Indiana to attempt to drown ourselves in Busch Heavy. We came back early so I wouldn’t get stabbed, but, in typical shithead fashion, my friends show up late. I should probably mention many were wearing camouflage or American flag patterned bandanas.
Just looking like total dicks.
Not surprisingly, Len takes to Brutus and they begin to develop what appears to be a friendship.
Fast forward 45 minutes. The sun is shining. Bags are being thrown. There’s a lot of laughter and kind words. Everyone is drinking like law abiding citizens. And everything is going somewhat normally, except that Cliff’s hand is inexplicably the size of a baseball mitt because he apparently was stung by some sort of winged insect.
However, all of these pleasantries and handshakes come to an end about the time two of my college friends from the Western suburbs arrive. You see, being that they were moving into a new apartment come fall, they decided to have a wine chug off to determine who would have the bigger closet in their apartment.
Myra won. Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it, seeing as she would later violently throw up out of a moving vehicle later in the evening.
The thing to know though, is that my friends cannot witness someone abuse alcohol without having to outdo them in some fashion, so they begin doing shots and shotgunning beers as if it was 1933 and a call had rang out through the streets seconds before that prohibition had officially ended.
While all of this is occurring, my brother has decided to tear into his hidden stash of Busch Light. He’s walking around completely wasted. Just getting that drunken hubris that leads you to begin challenging people that are much stronger and larger than you to feats of strength. This same hubris would later lead him to get his jaw broken in a street fight years later. I, of course, didn’t really mind because he was my partner in this competition, and, as everyone knows, drinking only improves your performance in this game.
So he’s walking around in basketball shorts high fiving people and like challenging Brutus, who at this point probably had about twice the muscle mass as him, to pushup contests and shit.
All of my brother’s strutting around catches my mom’s attention, so she grabs him and says, “Michael, is that a beer in your hand?”
And my brother just slurs, “You don’t think that I drink, mom?”
Poor choice of words, Mike.
Poor choice of words.
But being that he is the youngest, and, thus, the more loved child, he did not receive any repercussions.
My father, who has since been eliminated from the game, disappeared for a while. Only to return, minutes later looking determined. Not going to lie, there was certainly fear in my heart when he reappeared because I had not the slightest clue what was up his sleeve. That’s when I noticed he had a stack of paper in his hands. I would later come to learn that he had printed out several copies of the lyrics to “Sweet Caroline” and was passing them out to everyone in attendance.
“Everyone, grab a beer and gather ‘round, we have something we gotta do,” he exclaimed as he headed to the stereo.
And just like I could imagine it looked like when the Pied Piper of Hamelin played a tune or whatever and led all the rats to drown to their deaths, everyone at the party followed him towards the garage.
The music starts and everyone is into it. Like really into it. You know, just adding the superfluous “BUM, BUM, BUMs” and “SO GOODs” in all the right places. Lotta arms around each other. Lotta swaying to the beat.
But once just was not good enough.
So we sang it twice.
With even more vigor.
After this sing-a-long was when things really started getting sloppy. Mainly because the majority of people had already been eliminated from the competition. My friends are pounding vodka. Maureen is flicking everyone off. Myra and Felicity are laying in the grass like it’s fucking Woodstock or something. Random chicken bones are flying through the air. Brutus is throwing up near a garbage can.
And the truly terrifying thing was that all of this was occurring from leisurely drinking. So shit really hit the fan when some genius took it upon themselves to begin a game of flip cup.
This game would have a lot of effects. For one, my brother and I actually collectively decided that we were just going to give up and lose in the championship match just so we could get in on the flippy cup game.
Talk about a fucking amateur move.
And two, all of my uncles really got into flippy cup and attempted to relive their college days of pounding cheap, watered down beer. This would turn out poorly for them. Very poorly.
Additionally, at one point, my father’s Bosnian friend, Mirkoz, decides to run out and get a few bottles of Patron. You know, just to bring the collective BAC up to a nice .6.
This did not help the situation in the least. Especially when he returned and put on European house music.
By this time, Karen is beyond pissed the fuck off. Like I’m just talking steaming. And is trying to regain what little control she has left to yield. She is looking at me in such a rage that I am positive she is going to gut me like a fish.
She then asks all of my friends back inside the house for the night.
And when I say asks I mean openly threatens.
And seeing as I can only assume that this will be the first and last time I will ever be able to have an event like this, and that this could very well be my last night on earth, I decide to remain outside. My dad, Brutus, and Maureen follow in kind.
So we’re all talking about life or some shit, when I notice something out of the corner of my eye. It appears someone is coming up the drive way. And I get kind of excited because I’m thinking it’s maybe more new friends that have decided to come over.
That’s when I realized it is not friends, but three police officers in what appeared to be riot gear.
You gotta be fucking kidding me.
When the four pairs of our drunken eyes finally focused and realized what was happening, we all let out a collective “Fuck” under our breaths, which was followed by my dad ordering us all not to talk. And probably to avoid any eye contact.
“Hey, guys, having a party?” a polite man of what appeared to be Latino descent asked.
“Just playing some bags,” my dad replied.
“Is everyone here 21?” he asked.
My dad, who, at this point, is wearing a backwards baseball hat and sleeveless t-shirt, just rubs his face and responds, “Yes. No. Maybe?”
Brutus, Maureen, and I all sat stone still, holding out breaths, and trying to look as old and sober as possible. It was at this point that I was wishing that I had the ability to grow some sort of beard because, at this period in my life, I looked not a day over 9.
Curiously, this is a sufficient answer for the Oak Lawn Police and they tell us to keep it down and then slink off into the night where they came from.
My dad then looked at all of us with fear in his eyes and whispered, “Let’s not tell Karen.”
Not surprisingly, that was the first and last annual Dembkowski family bags tournament.
The Time I had Brunch
This past November, I went to New York City with Valerie. I had never been before because the East Coast has never really interested me all that much. Especially after I became older than the age of 11 and the Backstreet Boys kinda brokeup-ish, and TRL got cancelled off the air. That being the case, my chances of having a pre-methamphetamine Nick Carter propose to my incredibly underage self live on said TV show were basically now slim to none.
Valerie and I met a few years prior during sophomore year of college because we lived across the hall from each other on a floor comprised of the most terrifying physical specimens of the female form. How terrifying you ask? Well, one girl that very closely resembled the troll monster from Ernest Scared Stupid, would take it upon herself to sit in one of the communal bathroom sinks and shave off her leg hair with an electric razor.
I will never even begin to understand why she thought that was acceptable or what kind of leg hair she was producing that would need to be regularly combated with such a shaving device, but without fail, at least once a week, there she was with her electric Schick razor just shaving her life away.
It was an overall weird scene on this floor; and that being the case, you really had to bond together with the people that most closely resembled members of the human race.
That’s where Valerie comes in.
One night, she stumbled into my dorm room drunk as shit asking if she should attempt to eat her soup again. Apparently, she had thrown up, but it was just soup. Noodles still intact. And was seeking our advice as to if she should once again try to eat it.
We, of course, told her that it was probably best left alone fermenting in the bottom of her garbage can.
Now, I believe in psychics because I am a fucking lunatic, but like my psychic told me numerous things that have come true. One of which is that I would become friends with someone with long, dark hair that was in my major and that I had met before. And then that semester me and Valerie had like three classes together. CAN YOU SAY MAGIC? Like think what you want, but fucking Ashley Paige is a goddamn gypsy. Still not a believer? Within about 15 seconds after meeting, and without me saying a word, she said that I had a very dark and disturbing sense of humor, but had a bubbly and warm personality that made me not seem like a serial killer.
So, nailed that fucker right on the head.
Just your typical Libra rising; what can I say.
But back to Valerie.
I knew we were destined to be friends for life the first evening we took to the streets of Milwaukee. There was a bomb/beer deal that night: $2 each. We both ordered separately, and came back together with the same order: two bombs and two beers.
Could we have been separated at birth?
So, being that we had graduated, we were done terrorizing the local wateringholes in our old college’s city as a tag team, and we decided that, in our newly established real lives, we were going to periodically go on trips to be degenerates. You know, just to remember what it feels like to wake up with a start and a pit of regret in your stomach not knowing where you are or where’ve you been.
The weekend before Thanksgiving rolls around, and we’re all suited up for our white girls take on America adventure. However, there is one problem: due to a disgusting bed bug outbreak, we needed to find a hotel on short notice. But I’m talking like super short notice.
But we found one. And before I know it, we’re in New York getting out of a cab in front of it.
Oh, our hotel.
I really don’t know where to begin. Because it was hilariously terrifying. I’m pretty sure it was a hostel. In fact, I’m quite positive we were the only tenants that spoke English.
Like we didn’t have a bathroom. Well, I mean, we had a bathroom, but it was a community bathroom. And upon realizing this we laughed psychotically for like 15 minutes straight and then immediately left to seek out a bar to drink our terror away. And then forgot about it.
So we meet up with my old roommate, Myra, who came down from the Dirty Jerz, Natalie, who was a college friend, and a few friends of mine from high school, and hit the town with a ferocious leap. And by ferocious leap, I mean we drank vodka on the rocks for reasons that remain a mystery.
And between my drunken haze, fascination with the East Coast bros, and all the LOL-ing, I totally forgot about the bathrooms.
The next morning, about the time I had to take a shower, I suddenly remembered the communal factor of it all.
Taking a shower in that bitch was a whole new experience. Like if the movie Hostel had featured a shower, this would be it. To add to the ambiance, it appeared a large, hairy man, possibly of Greek or Serbian decent, had been in there before me. I assume this because there was black hair everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Stuck to the walls, lurking on the bottom of the tub, and sprinkled along its sides. In all variations of shapes and sizes.
I didn’t want to touch the walls, so I was just standing there shampooing my hair with my elbows pinned against me in the manner someone would if they were trying to protect their head/face from the blows of a small army of midgets that had knocked them to the ground and were ferociously kicking them. I also took it upon myself to periodically turn off the water so my ankles and feet would not have a chance to come in contact with the water soaked pubes. And, yes, don’t you fret, I had the foresight to wear flip flops.
It was a very “take a stroll in a hobo’s shoes” experience.
After that experience, Valerie and I meet back up with Natalie, who takes us on an adventure to seek out this one brunch spot.
Because the whole time, everyone that we come into contact with in that city is straight up jizzing about brunch.
Like “Oh, my gawd, brunch! You have to do it! It’s the best.”
And we’re all, “OK, calm the fuck down.”
And they were like, “No, but seriously. Go.”
So we go. And I want to passionately kiss whoever came up with this ludicrous concept. Basically, you pay $20 on top of however much your entrée costs, and then you are free to just ravage all the mimosas, bloody marys, and champagne your liver desires for two hours.
I remember loudly announcing, “I am going to drink 8 mimosas during our stay here,” to both Natalie and Valerie at the table. However, between the drunk girls that caused a small fire at the table next to us, and the wait staff’s constant refilling of my glass whenever it got anywhere near half full, it was hard to keep track.
I’m just going to assume from my later actions that I well passed achieved that goal.
It also didn’t help that I ordered eggs Benedict, which was delicious, but it was also the bougie deconstructed version whose portion size I’m pretty sure was meant for a toddler that was recently introduced to solid food. So there was like one little egg, and like a few drops of hollandaise sauce, and then like an English muffin.
And I just knew after I took that last bite of English muffin and was still quite hungry, that this was going to end very poorly for me.
After our meal and bucket of mimosas, our waitress, who is the fucking best, gives us a napkin filled with all sorts of weird drinking locales to visit.
So we grab our new roadmap to fuckery, and hail a cab.
After the first bar, it’s about 5 p.m. and Natalie decides to leave for a bit to take a nap and refuel. Because she is not a moron. Valerie and I decide to avoid her lead, and take our napkin map to set out in search of this famous bar that has $2 shots. Before we even get there, we get sidetracked because we “want a quick pitcher.”
We go into a bar with the intention of drinking said pitcher. And instantly become friends with the bartender, who directs us to two old men sitting in the corner of the bar.
We develop some sort of rivalry with them, and, before I know it, we are just pounding shots. The old men are buying us shots. The bartender is buying us shots. We are buying shots.
Rounds on rounds on rounds.
It is pure mayhem.
While all of this is occurring, I notice Old Man #1 is hitting on me, so I put on the ol’ Dembkowski charm; which is angrily demanding shots, while simultaneously telling him to get the fuck away from me, and then staring. All around being a total asshole. This does not faze him. Because he is old and creepy. However, he keeps the shots coming, and Valerie seems to be genuinely enjoying the company of his slightly less old friend. So I just continue to drunkenly stare at him with my Asian slits for eyes, which often occur as a result of me being lured by the goblin that is vodka deeper and deeper into the depths of a blackout.
Old Man #1, who is now my official companion at this juncture in the evening, asks me what I am doing with my life. And being that at this time I was unemployed and quite inebriated, I started telling him about my hopes and career aspirations in life; one of which is to write filth like I do here, only get paid for it.
Upon hearing that, he’s like, “I WORK AS A PRODUCER FOR VH1!” And I would like to think that I said something very professional and explained my qualified background in response to this, but, in reality, I probably was like “OMG NO WAY! I’M DRUNK! MORE SHOTS, FUCKER! YAY!”
I still have his business card, but something tells me emailing a man you blacked out with that continually told you how boring his wife is is not the best move.
After awhile, Valerie and I decide to leave in search of food and cigarettes. On our way to the store, we pass two strange Koreans with a cart that has little plastic cups of some sort of rice on it. Being that we are drunk, we just have the fuck at it.
So we’re standing there, taking a blowtorch to our lungs, and I just could feel all my motor skills slowly, but surely slipping away. My last coherent thought was Valerie looking at our napkin map and declaring that the $2 shot bar was right around the block.
I now know God exists because we did not go there.
The next thing I know, I wake up in a bathroom. But not just any bathroom. The bathroom of a Korean restaurant. Just vomitting as if I had stomach flu on food poisoning on stage fright on cancer. With just a touch of Exorcist-like projection.
And let me tell you, there is no worse way to be wrenched from the death grip of a blackout then by having vomit come slamming out of your nose.
So, obviously, I am walked passed a lot of worried looking Koreans, and put in a cab and sent home because I cannot function/walk/speak English, let alone be seen amongst members of society.
At this point, it is 8 p.m.
I don’t remember a lot from the cab ride. Just flashes of memories. The cab driver wanted to stab me. This is the one thing I know for sure.
So I pull the old white girl card and begin openly weeping in the backseat of this cab. And, if you have no idea what happens to a girl when she has started crying after drinking a random assortment of liquor whose contents could fill a bathtub, then you know you obviously have to call someone to be a witness to the shame you are unleashing into the environment.
So I call my old roommate, Mary, up, who is busy being an army wife off in the South, and Mary immediately is like, “WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO YOU?!”
Because I mean when someone that is relatively psychologically stable calls you at 8.p.m from across the country hysterically sobbing about how she is lost in an unknown city, you are bound to feel many emotions, one of which is concern.
The next thing I know, it is 1 a.m. and I am in my coat and boots. Just laying on my back. On top of the comforter of my bed.
I then spend a considerable amount of time cursing my very existence, and decide it would be best if just go back to sleep and pretend like this day never happened. When I wake up again, Valerie is back. But she is sitting on the edge of her bed in a very odd fashion.
“Valerie?” I asked in a semi-frightened tone.
Because one of my biggest fears is witnessing someone sleep walk.
It’s not that weird of a fear.
There was one time when I was babysitting two twins. And I had just put them to bed, and was minding my own goddamn business watching Lifetime, when I heard floorboards creaking upstairs.
So I walk up stairs and see Twin #1, but she was walking like super slow. And I’m all, “Twin #1?”
And the twin didn’t answer, but just kept slowly walking down the hall with her back towards me.
Just then, Twin #2 comes tearing out of their room all frightened and shit and starts hugging my legs and is like, “I HATE WHEN SHE DOES THIS!”
And I was like, “It’s ok!”
But in my heart of hearts I was thinking, “I REFUSE TO DIE AT THE HANDS OF THIS DEMON CHILD.”
If there was ever a chance where I legitimately was so scared I was going to lose control of my bowels it was that time.
She was just sleepwalking; luckily not possessed, but I wasn’t trying to experience that again.
“Don’t fucking look at me,” Valerie responds.
That’s when I realize she’s throwing up in her hands.
So I shut my eyes again. When I open them again it is 5 a.m. And Valerie is now asleep. She has also followed my lead and decided to sleep in her clothes on top of the covers.
I sat there. Pretty confused and trying to reconcile the missing pieces of my night. And wondering if I ever will be able to go to a new place without seemingly trying to put myself in the most dangerous and stupid situations as possible. Eventually, I grow tired of thinking, but couldn’t sleep because I had recently opened the window to try and air out the stale smell of her stomach contents. However, the window didn’t have a screen on it, and we were on the second floor pretty close to the street, and I didn’t want to wake up to someone raping me/running a serrated knife across my throat.
That being the case, since I had to keep watch, and couldn’t find the remote to the TV, I let my booze addled brain take over and found a large box of rice and devoured it.
And it was delicious.
So, moral of the story, if you are ever in New York, approach brunch with caution. Especially if it involves all you can drink mimosas. And make sure your hotel doesn’t have a fucking communal bathroom. At least not one covered in strange pubes.