Hey y’all! It’s been a white-hot minute since I was in the closet. Literally. I have been stressed and busy and out of town and out of mind and all the things. Hoping to get back on track soon. Meanwhile, here is a 10-minute vide about all the important things in my life right now: Bear claws, Duke’s barking, my recent hair cut, the fact that my husband is a wizard, professional wrestler Ric Flair, and the state of Georgia. Enjoy! Also, here is a link to the Sweet Treats in case you are inclined to pay for some: https://www.riverstreetsweets.com/product/classic-gift-box-of-pralines-and-bear-claws/praline-and-bear-claw-combination-gifts
All morning I have been putting my hands on my keyboard in an attempt to will myself to write something, but nothing comes out. This has been happening for about two weeks. I don’t mean with this silly, little blog. I have a million topics for this place. Climbing out of this blue spot I have been in. My recent gastro-intestinal upset. Our house-hunting trip to Atlanta. Jackson’s ongoing obsession with Harry Potter. Those are all easy topics for me to slap down here for our mutual reading pleasure. What I’m having a really hard time with is writing other things. Things I need to be writing. Short stories, and flash fiction, and creative non-fiction. Things that I write to send out for consideration. Things that, you know, a writer should care about.
A couple of weeks ago I started an essay about mental health. It’s morphed into more of a lyric essay. I talk about my penchant for weeding, then I talk about the unnerving condition I was diagnosed with shortly after the loss of my daughter. It’s called trichotillomania, which is a really long, crazy-sounding word that means at times of high stress I pull my hair out. Literally. I subconsciously run my fingers through my hair, often times when I am asleep, and I pull strands of hair out. I do it over and over again, in the same spot, until finally I have a little bald patch on my scalp and I have to part my hair to cover it. It sorta sucks. But also, I guess it sort of helps too.
It doesn’t always happen when I am asleep. Sometimes I am fully-awake, but I am distracted. When I first noticed it I was sitting on the couch with my husband. We were watching tv, toddler Jackson was asleep, and I was actually engrossed in whatever was happening in that episode of, probably, The Office. Before I knew what was happening I had taken my pony tail out and began running my fingers through my hair. At some point my husband looked over at me and asked what was wrong. I told him nothing was wrong. Because nothing was wrong. Weirdo. Then after the episode he looked at the spot next to me and asked again what was wrong. I looked over too, and there was a massive pile of my hair sitting next to me. We didn’t really know what to say. Over the next few weeks it got worse. I was waking up in the middle of the night to clumps of hair all around me, and my hand resting on my head. It was exhausting. So I finally asked the doctor and she explained this all to me. I felt relieved, but you know, not really.
So here I am, reliving all of this to write it out on the page, in hopes that I will actually finish this essay, submit it to a publication, they won’t think I’m too weird, and they will publish it, so that maybe, maybe, someone who pulls their hair out realizes, perhaps for the first time, that it is a mental health problem. Realizes they are not alone. Realizes they need to seek help. But until then, I am stuck, you see. Stuck. Unable to think. Unable to write. Unable to help. Stuck with idle hands, wanting to pull out my hair.
Look it, I like dudes. Some more than others, to be sure. I like my husband a super, duper lot. I like my friends who are part of the male species. I like my son. But I also don’t like a lot of dudes. I won’t name them here but let’s just say, I have grievances. It started, probably, with my deadbeat dad and it has just matured over time. Time and situations. Situations and little moments. I’m turning 38 this year, and I swear to you every year closer I am to 40, the more angry I am. Is this normal? Doesn’t matter.
Today I am angry at some dudes and have decided to write a list of things that have been said to me, by dudes, in my lifetime, in no particular order. Things said to me either in person, over the phone, over text or email, or under their breath when they thought I couldn’t hear. Some were shouted in my general direction when I was with a group of girls, some were directed at me. Some I thought was sweet when they were said because I just didn’t understand at the time, and some made my stomach turn. Some I smiled through and some I turned and said, “What the fuck did you say to me?” Some, most, I simply ignored. This is not an exhaustive list and it does not include any physical abuse or sexual assaults that I have encountered, and I have encountered some. It’s strictly times boys or men have said gross things to me, times that I can remember with some clarity.
It’s gross and demeaning, and a lot sad and I am super fucking sick of it. These are all things said to me, at me. As a child, as a teenager, as a young woman, and as a married mommy. I know some women are harassed much more than me, and for that I am sorry. I am sorry that any of us have to go through this, but here we are.
I implore you girls, and ladies, and women, make your own list and see what creeps up from all the creeps. This helped me realize how jacked up the world treats us and it made me stronger knowing I lived through all this and continue to, and still have the desire to fight and march and smash the patriarchy in their stupid faces. Maybe if you make your own list it will help you too. Much love and solidarity, sisters.
A List of Gross Things Boys or Men Have Said to Me
You are so pretty when you smile
You don’t miss a meal do’ya?
If you won’t suck my dick, I’m leaving
Girls aren’t supposed to do “that” (insert whatever the fuck “that” is)
Women aren’t funny, stop trying to be
Want to see my cock?
Girls can’t run
Someday you will find a guy who likes tubby girls
You HAVE to kiss me
You won’t understand this kind of work
You should’t wear shirts that tight
Are you jealous because you friend is so much prettier?
Girls can’t write about that
Does she have to come too?
Girl sports aren’t real sports
Do you do blowjobs?
I didn’t invite you because I didn’t think you’d fit in the car with us
What size bra do you wear?
Fat girls aren’t sexy
You two should kiss each other and I’ll watch
You’re the queen of pimples
You just don’t fit the “image” we are trying to display
I’m the best you will get
My sister has an eating disorder and she lost weight, maybe you should try that?
She’s the cock-blocker
1st guy: She’s not my type. 2nd guy: She isn’t anyone’s type.
Just because you are a little smart, doesn’t mean you know anything. You’re a girl.
The first time I remember having a panic attack I was 17 years old. I’m almost positive, looking back, that I’d had them before that, but I just didn’t know what to call it. Once, when I was about nine, I was so nervous waiting for my mom to come pick me up from a sleepover, that I had to go sit in my friend’s bathroom, away from all the noise and laughter. I was trembling, and my hands and feet were clammy, and my chest felt very tight. I sat in the bathtub, pulled the curtain closed, and waited for my friend’s mom to open the basement door and call down to tell me that my mom was there. In hindsight, that was probably one of my first panic attacks, but I didn’t know it at the time. I did know, however, that I was different than the other girls.
At seventeen I woke up in the middle of the night. I’ve always struggled with sleep, so I didn’t think much of it. This was back before you kept your cell phone charging next to your head, so I would just lie awake and stare at the ceiling listening for unfamiliar noises and worrying, mainly, about all the things that could go wrong in my life. What if I didn’t pass my next chemistry test? What if my mom found out that I had pot stashed in my dresser drawer? Those sorts of things. This particular night I remember with clarity, because it was the first time I thought about death. I wasn’t suicidal, never have been. Save for that time I was put on a medicine to help with anxiety and it didn’t react well with me. But we will save that for another time. What I mean is, I became hyper-aware for the first time, that one day I would die. That’s the funny thing about this life. It ends the same for everyone. And when you’re a kid or a reckless teenager, you don’t think too much about that. Until the day you do.
Existential dread or angst, I jokingly call it now. Jokingly because it happens to me all the time, I sort of live in this space, and it happens to a lot of us, most of use, from time to time. But when I was seventeen, I didn’t know what the hell it was. I just realized I would die, then wondered how I would die, then ventured into this whole new world of anxiety and worry that was never there before. It struck me so violently that I found myself awake for days, unable to sleep, consumed first and foremost by the idea that I was going to die, I had convinced myself, at any moment.
Of course I did the worst possible thing, I told no one. I went about life as normal as I could, all the while plagued with these constant, OCD thoughts about death. In AP English I’d think about death. In Chemistry, I’d think about death. At lunch, death. Hanging out at my friends’ houses after school, talking about crushes and pretending to care about my make-up and hair, death.
Then one day, months after the first thought, I had a total and complete meltdown. I was still a kid, as much as I thought otherwise, so I had my meltdown in a totally kid way. First, I flipped out at school. I got into a fight with my best friend, on purpose, because I wasn’t happy and she was and that pissed me off. Then I hitched a ride home halfway through the day with another friend (read: we skipped school and got high, then went to Taco Bell). Afterward, she dropped me off at home. I forgot that I don’t normally beat my mom home from work (don’t smoke weed kids, mkay), so she was confused when she got there and I was home. This led to a fight when she accused me of skipping school. I was appalled that she would “accuse” me of such a thing, then I went into my room, and slammed my door. (Ugh, moms are the worst!)
That night my mom went out and she told me not to leave the house, I was “grounded” in as much as she could ground me. So at about 8:00 pm, a friend picked me up and we left to go smoke more weed down at the river. Here’s the thing. The “river” was the cool place to hang, way down by the railroad tracks, because we were totes sad, sordid, teenagers with the weight of the world on our shoulders, oh poor, pitiful us… We were living every single scene from #MySoCalledLife.
The cops came, as they often do, and everyone took off running. Well, I don’t run, ya dig? Even when I think my life is in danger. Like if a bear came at me in the woods I would be the last one there, trying to reason with the bear, all, Listen bear, I’m mostly fat and who likes the fatty parts of the meat? So I just sort of walked away, down the railroad tracks to an old railcar. (Insert the Daria soundtrack). Turns out the cops weren’t too hellbent on arresting a few teens passing a dime bag, so they took off, but there I was alone, at night, a little high, on the train tracks. When, you guessed it, a train came.
Now, I’m not suicidal (see above), so meandering around the live tracks at night, weren’t exactly what I was going for. In fact, I was scared shitless, and I started back to the riverfront park to find my friends, but they had left my ass. That’s about the time the intrusive thoughts started up again. I know it, I told myself, I’m going to die and this is probably the night. I could smell the fire burning from the hobo village (I don’t think that is politically accurate now, but that’s what we called it) under the bridge, the train was approaching, my friends had left me, and there may or may not be cops lurking in the woods waiting to arrest me for being out after curfew. Plus, I was going to die. Maybe not that night, but certainly some day.
I made it down to the park, where there was a large mound of grass, and a well-lit walking trail. I sat down as the train approached, and all the things hit me at once. My chest tightened and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My hands became clammy, my feet went numb. The train hit the city limits. The thoughts raced through my mind. Things are changing, it won’t always be this way. The lights on the track flashed their warning, the bars lowered. Breathe, Missy, breathe. The bells chimed. The engine gave a loud hiss. I can’t stop time, one day I will be here on this earth, and the next I will not be and the whole wide world will still spin around without me. The sound of the wheels on the wood, louder and faster. I’m going to die. The train wooshed by. All the people I love, we will all be gone. And then, just like that, it was all over.
Jesus, this all sounds dramatic. But it really felt like the end of the world. Of my world, anyway. And sometimes, some days, it still does. I wish to all the universes that this was something that I grew out of, or something that never happened again. Something that goes away every day when I take my pills. But no, it’s always here. And I’ve had about ten or so of the actual, painful, Am-I-having-a-heart-attack panic attacks in my life. I can remember each one of them with a clarity I wish I could have given to my chemistry homework. The time Jerimiah had to hold me in the living room because I couldn’t sit still. The time I had to excuse myself from class because I thought the walls were caving in on me. That time I was driving through Tennessee, my son snuggled up in the backseat, and I had to call my friend just to talk. Thankfully, I have people, and thankfully I know when to reach out.
I wanted to share this today for two reasons: 1. It is coming. I’m headed down a dark, bleak hole, and I know it and I feel it, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. The stress is inching up in my neck and in the next few days I will be down for the count. It’s not anything different than it was yesterday, or last year, or 10 years ago. I just know how to read the signs now. How to better equip myself for the fall. Which leads me to number 2. I’m still here. I’m still alive, and this is only temporary. One of my favorite writers likes to remind us that #DepressionLies, and shit yeah it does. But man, it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. It doesn’t feel like it when it’s 2:00 am or 2:00 pm and you are in your bed, covered to your neck in blankets because that is the only way you can get through the day. It doesn’t feel like it when you stop texting friends back, or when you just want to eat chocolate and not make eye contact with your partner or your kid. It feels like you are trapped in this dark place. It feels like you did it all to yourself. It feels like it will never be right again and that you will never be right again. But you will.
People routinely ask me to help them write. Which is really, really kind and humbling, but also kinda dumb. You guys, I have no idea what I am doing here, or there, or over there. There are so many better ways for you to learn how to write, or start the process. Like a quick Google search of: Help me write, might bring up more concrete advice. Because honestly, I can’t tell you anything that hasn’t already been said by a thousand other writers. I can’t really tell you where to start, or how to start, or which genre you should be looking into. And I certainly can’t tell you what to do with your writing life. Because y’all, I have no actual idea what the hell I am doing with my life and I routinely rely on fellow writers, mentors, and friends to tell me what to do. And normally they say, “Have you tried wine?” I have great people.
In all seriousness, writing can be fun, and helpful, and sometimes cathartic. But writing is also tough, and rigorous, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. A lot of times it doesn’t happen. But sometimes, sometimes when it does, it’s like magic.
In fact, I used to think that there was some sort of mystic connection between the paper and the pen. Like some other-worldly thing was helping me, letting the words flow, I was just the vessel (… that must follow where it goes, trying to learn from what’s behind you, and never knowing what’s in store, makes each day a constant battle, just to stay between the shores…) Sorry for the Garth tangent. This was especially true when I would feel like I didn’t do all that much. I would sit down one morning, with my cup of coffee and my laptop, usually the day before whatever I was writing was due, and I’d pour my heart into a short story, or a personal essay, send it over to my workshop, or a writing instructor, and they would swoon. Like, how is that even possible without some divine assistance?
That was all way before grad school. Way back in my 20s when I thought that all the good things happening in my life, were somehow bestowed upon me. My kid is super smart? Just good genetics. My dog is the coolest ever? All dogs are cool. Then one day in the middle of grad school (where coincidently I learned more about myself than anything else, French philosopher Derrida included) it hit me, I was actually doing all these things. I was actually putting the work in. I was actually responsible for the trajectory of my life, and my writing, I just wasn’t giving myself credit for it.
That’s a really long, humblebrag way to say, you have the ability to write your story, just as easily as you have the ability to live your story, and if you really want to do it, you are probably doing it right now, without even realizing it. You probably lay in bed at night and laugh about this thing that happened to you in college, and you think, I should write that down. You probably think back on your life and try to remember when something happened, and what it was, and what you felt like when it happened, and how it changed you in some way. Maybe you do this on your own accord because you are an arduous thinker, or maybe your therapist gave it to you as homework, either way, you are trying to create a timeline of life, to tell a linear story, and maybe you aren’t writing it down, but when you get it all worked out, you might. And when you do, it might feel like it isn’t that hard. It might feel like the words are just flowing out of you, and trust me, that is a great feeling! It is also not a common one.
Having said all that, let me share some of the bits of wisdom I have stumbled upon in my life, from writers, teachers, books, and friends that might help you pick up the pen to tell your story.
Read. I know this sounds like a duh, but you’d be amazed at how easy it is not to read these days. I think most of us would rather veg out to Netflix on a rainy day, then pick up a book, but honestly, really, if you want to write, you have to read. (Bonus: Blogs count! And so do audiobooks, which is like reading, but not. What doesn’t count is Facebook statuses, anything by Fox News, and the TV guide. Do they still make those?) I myself go in book-reading stages. I will read, read, read, for three months straight, maybe nine books or so, then I won’t for a couple of months (usually because I am stressed out about something and I can’t get my brain to concentrate on the words). But even in those stressful times, I still read, just smaller pieces. I read poetry. I read flash fiction/non-fiction, lyric essays, blogs, magazines, newspapers, and literary journals/reviews. I listen to NPR or a fun podcast. I still try to see and hear the stories out there, because they are so very important.
Leave your house. What? Missy, come one man. That is asking too much. I promise, I know. I get it. Geez, some days I get it more than others. But, leaving your house is SO important. Especially if you are like me and really could spend all day, every day in your own little world, at your desk, or your kitchen table, or your backyard bumbling around. You can’t. You have to go out of your little life. You have to see other people live. I’m to the point where every, single time I leave my house, whether to take Jackson to the library, or grocery shop, or grab a cup of coffee with a friend, I see something that sparks my interest. I might overhear a conversation and think, Oh, that’s a great first line to a short story. I might see a security guard picking up a piece of trash and wonder what he is thinking. Now maybe your brain doesn’t exactly work like mine, I might over-think sometimes, or be more sensitive to this sort of thing, but ultimately it is very helpful at getting the writing juices to stir. Just the other day a firetruck whizzed by me on the street while I was walking Duke, and I realized that I didn’t flinch like I normally do. Which made me remember the reason I used to be afraid of firetrucks (from the night my grandfather died) and I immediately went home and wrote about my grandfather, because that one firetruck brought up all the memories. It can happen just like that, in an instant, but you won’t know if you are always in your safe, quiet space, where nothing much happens.
Seek out like-minded people. This one is Tough with a capital T. Well, maybe it is. Actually, it might not be that tough for you, but it has proven to be very tough for me. After my undergrad I never wrote. I forgot even what I was suppose to do, how to write, the whole thing. I wasn’t in any sort of writing group. I hadn’t made any friends who were out there doing it. That is when I started my first blog to combat that feeling, but with a toddler on my hands, my writing took a backseat. Then over time I started working in Tech writing, where I wanted to bang my head against the wall (it is just too structured for me) and then the move to NC, it took five years before I was like, oh yeah, I was a writer one time. Man, how I wish I could have those years back! In grad school I spent half the time studying a different concentration, Linguistics (what the hell was I thinking?) so honestly I felt like I missed out there too. You have to be proactive though. That I have realized. You have to, again, create your own opportunity. And keep trying. I gave up. Don’t give up! Don’t do as I did, do as I say, damn it! Look for writing groups, clubs, meetings, readings. And go to them! I do not. Ahem, you should. Start slowly by joining online groups if you need to, I did not, you should. Then you can begin to go and meet IRL. I did not, you should. See a trend here? See why you shouldn’t ask me for advice…
Write. I feel like this is a duh, but the number one thing people tell me right after they say that they want to write is that they don’t know where to start. Then I say, it doesn’t matter. Cause it doesn’t matter. Just start writing. Remember that funny college story? Write it down. Remember that security guard at the library? Tell his story, or the one that you fabricated in your head. If you need something more concrete you can start a journal or a blog. Journaling is cool because you can write whatever you want and you won’t run the risk of having an ex-partner or an ex-boss stumble across it at 2 a.m. on a Friday night when they searched your name and the word diarrhea together. A blog, I’m learning, is a real shit-kicker, because it is this sort of public, sort of private space, where you feel brazen enough to write about your explosive diarrhea, then a week later you see an acquaintance at Harris Teeter, and you have coffee in your cart, and they are all, Hey, remember how coffee gives you the poops! Haha! And then you’re all, Oh yeah, thanks Karen, I had forgotten about that… So, there’s that.
So there you are, some tips from me to you. Let me just remind you, that I should not be giving any advice about writing. I am not an expert. Then again, Dave, the guy down at Verizon isn’t a chili cook-off expert, but I did add the extra tamales, and it made a world of difference. So…
I love Instagram! Love it. I mainly love it because it allows me to share pics and jokes, man I love a good joke, without actually logging onto Facebook. I used to love Facebook, until my friends and family lost their ever-loving minds. One day they were fine and normal, sharing recipes and baby photos, then the next day they became political strategists. Then the next day they were physicians, deciding that vaccines were bad and that “late-term abortion” means that a woman gives birth to a healthy child at 40 weeks gestation, and then the doctor shoots the baby in the head, while the mom yells, Do it! and sticks a needle full of that good, Mexican meth that was smuggled into El Paso on foot, into her arm, then has sex with the doctor so she can get pregnant again. #GodsPlan
As great as Instagram is, sometimes it fails me too. Like yesterday. I was scrolling my feed, just a scrolling and scrolling, looking for some funny VD Day memes, when I ran across this super-cute, ultra-hip t-shirt (it was an ad) and it had pretty flowers, and pastel colors, great font, all the basic, basic bitch stuff that I love. My eyes were immediately drawn to it (Facebook really knows how to target ads.) I was like, “OHHHHHH, it’s cute!” Then I read the words.
Here’s the thing. I love good vibes. I mean, who doesn’t? If I could live on a beach with Matthew McConaughey, a sack of some really primo weed, and a pitcher of bottomless margaritas all day, every day, I would. No. I actually wouldn’t, for three reasons. 1. I don’t smoke weed. 2. I can’t handle my tequila and 3. He’s waaaaay too active for me. But I like to think it would be Good Vibes Only, right? Right.
But I know myself. And I know my friends. And I know my family. And I know, for the most part, how people operate, and well, it’s not all good vibes all day, everyday. In fact, some days are made of really shitty vibes. Really sad vibes. Really upset vibes. Crazy-busy, justneedaminutetobreathe vibes. Also, my-kid-just-threw-cereal-on-the-floor, I’m-hiding-in-my-closet, and might-stab-my-boss vibes. I have all those vibes. I give all those vibes. I see and hear and feel, all those vibes, from everywhere, everyday. And while it isn’t awesome, sometimes it is necessary. Because sometimes when I’m Good Vibes Only and my husband or my son or my friend is throwing out some Feeling-Super-Overwhelmed-Today vibes, then maybe I can help. But if I’m all, Nah, dog, Good Vibes Only, then maybe they will be less likely to come to me for help. Am I making sense?
I’m not saying this isn’t great. I’m not saying that we should stop sending out good vibes or accepting good vibes, or even anticipating mostly good vibes. I’m just saying, we can’t always live our lives in a Good Vibes Only way. And we shouldn’t be expected to. And we shouldn’t be frustrated with ourselves, or our people, on the days when good vibes are not possible.
I guess all I’m really saying is, I will take you, I will love you, I will listen to you, I will hug you. I will take all your vibes. The good, the bad, and the stabby. And I hope you will do the same for me.
And listen, if that shirt would just change one letter, I would buy it today!
Sending some good vibes your way, y’all, cause I’ve got some to spare today.
I like to make mad fun of those FB quizzes that people share. Not the BuzzFeed ones that tell you which Disney princess you are, those are legit (Belle here). I mean the ones that you fill out about yourself in order for others to learn more about you. I guess they are more like surveys, either way, I started doing every single one that I saw in my newsfeed in a hipster, ironic sort of way, like haha, I’m filling out this stupid thing. Then I got addicted to them. So, there’s that. It’s like that one time I was making fun of people calling their partners “Boo” so I started to ironically call my husband “Boo” and now that’s his name. He legally changed it. No he didn’t, but I do want him to, so I don’t look foolish.
Anyway, the newest survey that popped up was a relationship one (for V-Day, which we call VD Day ’round here because we suspect a lot of VD is passed around on V-Day. Also not to be mistaken for D-Day or for Hep-B Day, which are also holidays we celebrate. Not because we have Hep-B, we just swear off certain restaurants that day.) Jesus, this is getting off track.
One of the questions was: Which one of you is the “Angry one”? Or something like that. Immediately I was like him, duh. He’s so impatient sometimes. Then I was like, Hey Missy… impatience and anger are two different things. Then I was like, Hey Missy, remember that time you threw French fries at his head? Oh yep.
So here’s the thing. Jerimiah grew up in an abusive home with an alcoholic dad and somewhere along the line decided it was best not to be that sort of guy. So he’s not. And honestly, it is rare that he gets “angry”. In fact, he stays so calm sometimes, when I really want him to be angry, that it makes me angry. Then I act out. The French fry throwing was not any of that. It was though, the first and only time I completely understood the term “Seeing red”.
Let me set the scene. I was about five months pregnant. Throughout the whole first trimester I had been so sick, like vomiting-everything-I-ate sick, that I lost 20 pounds! For real, the quickest weight loss ever! You should try it. No, just kidding, not really, I think, uhh, if you are not pregnant, that is an eating disorder. So you can imagine my delight and surprise when in the second trimester I could go back to eating whatever the hell I wanted. I became, very quickly, addicted to Sonic hamburgers. Yeah. Yep. That Sonic. With the crushed ice. So pretty much every day I stopped by Sonic and got myself a hamburger. No cheese, lettuce and mayo only. Sometimes I got fries.
One particular day off from work I did not want to drive all the way to Sonic, so I asked Jerimiah to pick me up a burger on the way home. He obliged and got home to a STARVING me, about 6:00 pm. Now, Jerimiah has this habit of saying he will be home at a certain time, then not being home at said time, and this was one of those instances. He said he would be home at five and he was not home until six. So things were not going well when he walked in the door.
BUT, he had my burger in hand, along with an order of fries, so I simma’d down, now, and waited patiently for him to hand it over. He asked me if I wanted a plate, of which I said yes. I refuse to eat a burger from a box or a bag or a sack or anything else. I only eat on plates. He walked into the living room, where I had been holed up on the couch all day watching Dr. G, The Medical Examiner (because for some reason when I was pregnant dreaming about death was soothing) and he handed me my burger and fries… on a paper plate.
Hmm. At first I didn’t realize it. He handed me the plate, the styrofoam kind, that sags a little from hot food and the weight of a large Sonic fry, and I immediately tore into my burger as I bobbed my head back and forth trying to keep my eyes on the television as he walked DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE DAMN SCREEN.
“Hey, man, have a seat,” I said, taking another bite.
He rolled his eyes and sat down at the desk in the corner to check his email.
Mmm. That eye rolling sorta got to me, but I let it slide. Because, I’m so sweet. Belle. Sweet. You know.
Then I sat up to put the plate onto the coffee table and it banged against the table and sort of crumpled a bit, as styrofoam plates do. And I was like, Hmm, this is not a plate. So I said to my husband, “This is not a plate.” And he turned to me and said, “Yes it is.” And I said, “No. It’s a paper plate.” And he said, “Actually. It’s made of styrofoam.”
And that’s the last thing I remember.
Apparently, and later the details did come back to me with a bit of clarity, I lifted my burger off the styrofoam plate, and launched the plate, full of fries, directly at him. It hit him in the head, because I was a heck of a third basemen, and he sat, stone-faced, while the fries fell onto the floor all around him. Then he turned back to the computer, as the dog ran over to gobble up all the fries.
I continued to eat my burger, in silence, while I watched him not looking at me. Then I said, “Why are you not eating?” To which he said, “I’m not hungry anymore.” To which I said, “You fucking better eat, dude.” And he said, “Nah.” Then he slid his plate to the edge of the desk.
What happened next, I don’t really have an explanation for, except that again, I was pregnant, for the first time, and I guess, hormones? I had never done this before and have never done it since, but I stood up, screamed a bunch of not-nice words toward him and the scared-out-of-her-mind dog, and turned to go to bed, but not before punching the wall, that was literally, for real, made of cinder block.
I sat in the bed for a few minutes, crying and holding my hand to my chest, while I used the good hand to finish my burger. Waste not, want not. Then I fell into a deep, deep sleep and woke up the next day feeling better than ever. Except for the near-broken hand. That’s fun to explain to the doctor, when she really is like, “Did he hit you?” and you are really like, “No, I punched a wall because he served me food on a paper plate. Styrofoam. I’m sorry, it was styrofoam.”
You’ll be happy to know, that four months later, I gave birth to a healthy, happy baby boy who doesn’t, as of yet, exhibit a propensity for Sonic or punching walls. And my husband never left me. He also didn’t eat his burger, he threw it away. And that has always plagued me, because, I would have liked to eat it.
Be nice to your partners, y’all. And to pregnant women.
Below is the actual FB survey that I filled out this morning, that made me remember this little “paper plate” incident, as we like to call it… Enjoy.
Ok couples it’s almost Valentine’s Day!
Who asked who out? Straight up, we got drunk at a house party then made out a little then he was all, “Wanna go on a date.” So… mutual?
Do you have any children together? One living human son. One living non-human son. Two non-living daughters, one human, one non-human, and at least three to four “scares” along the way. One time, no shit, a “psychic” approached me at work and told me I was pregnant with his kid. You guys! I was not. She was wrong.
What about pets? Duke. He’s a shithead and we miss Bentley every day.
Who said I love you first? He did, but it was during sex so I think it was an accident. A “sexident” if you will. Like when you are climaxing and shout out, “I want to marry you!” Never happened to you? No? Weird. Y’all need to have better sex.
Who is most sensitive? If he’s being sensitive, then I’m like buck up, Buttercup! If I am being sensitive he better leave my ass alone. We alternate.
Where do you eat out most as as a couple? Another sex question, ohh, I like it. He eats out a lot. Just realizing now this is not a sex question. La Unica, the Mexican joint down the road. They smile when we come in and say, “Hola friends, we’ve missed you!”
Who’s older? Him. Not going to say any more about that.
Who has the worst temper? I want to say him. But, I once threw a plate of French fries at his head, then slammed my first into a cement wall because he served me my food on a paper plate, not a “real” one. So… In my defense, I was real pregnant at the time.
Who is more social? No.
Who is the neat freak? I am. But I don’t actively make the house neat. So I spend most of my time complaining about how the house needs to be neat, then blaming him for my lack of motivation.
Who is the most stubborn? Him. He once tried to give me a high-five in a restaurant, I refused, and he sat with his hand in the air for fifteen minutes, until I relented because people were looking.
Who wakes up earlier? Him, because: Job. On the weekends, it is me.
Who is the funny one? Smart jokes, him. Fart jokes, me.
Where was your first date? Metropolitan Steakhouse, which sounds waaaaay fancier than it is. The tables were lit by candles, and that is it. Literally could not see each other or our food. Which is probably why I was able to put down a monstrous amount of food without him knowing.
Do you get flowers often? I used to hate flowers as a gift, mainly because of the connotation that the man did something wrong when he brought them home, so he never bought them for me. Then one day I was like, you know what, I want flowers. Mainly because I realized my husband doesn’t do anything wrong. So now I get them on special occasions and not special occasions and I can appreciate them. #Adulting
How long did it take to get serious? Probably about a year. But it took us five years to get married, so, we are both sort of “take your time” kinda people.
Who was interested first? Him. I mean, who wouldn’t be interested in me?! Look at me!
Who picks where you go out to eat? Jackson usually.
Who is the first one to admit when they are wrong? Me, but also him. Depends on who is actually wrong. Either way it doesn’t happen often. I apologize for things that are not my fault and he knows it is best just to say sorry.
Married? For long enough now that I will be granted half his retirement in the divorce. #Goals
More sarcastic? Him. (Eye roll)
Who makes the most mess? Him. (Eye Roll)
Hogs the remote? We throw it at each other because no one wants to pick. Then we end up just turning the tv off and talking.
Better driver? Him (Eye roll)
Spends the most money? The Arabian Sheik that lives in our house. So, me.
Who is smarter? Math? Him English? Me Everything else in the whole world: Jackson
Did you go to the same school? Fo shiz. We met when we both worked on our high school newspaper/yearbook. He was a photographer and I was an editor and he was my workhorse. I could always count on him to get his work and my work done. We didn’t date until we were 20, but I knew by then he’d always take care of me.
Who’s better with a computer? Jackson
Who drives when you are together? Him, unless we need to get somewhere like in a flash. Then I drive and he just closes his eyes and waits to arrive alive.
“A woman who cuts her hair, is about to change her life.” – Coco Chanel
When life seems to be spinning out of control, I do this thing wherein I drink two glasses of wine, grab my best pair of kitchen scissors, watch a couple YouTube videos, and then cut my own bangs. I know what you are going to say, probably the same thing my husband says, “What the hell are you doing? Go to a salon. You said you’d never do this again. Remember that time you cut your eye a little?” Blah. Blah. Blah. But calm down, I’m a professional.
I will first decide what length I want to go. I decide this by grabbing my hair from the back of my neck, and swooshing it down over my face, looking quite like Cousin Itt from the Addams Family (see below).
Then I think, hmm, about right here, holding my hand up to about the beret line. Then right before I make the first cut, I put the scissors down, flip my hair back into place, and text my best friend.
Me: I’m gonna cut my own bangs.
BFF: DO IT!
So then I flip my hair back. Then… ping.
BFF: Have you been drinking?
Me: Just wine.
BFF: How much?
Me: Like two.
ME: Glasses, bitch.
BFF: Where’s Jerimiah?
Me: Why?! He doesn’t care, he said do whatever.
BFF: Did he? Let me text him real quick like.
ME: No, stop! Okay, he told me to go to a salon.
BFF: So two bottles?
Me: No, dude! I can do it this time.
BFF: That’s what you said last time.
Me: Last time I was legit drunk. And I had the bad scissors.
BFF: Did you buy hair shears?
Me: Uh, no. Do you know how expensive those are? Whatever, I’m doing it.
So then I Cousin Itt it again, and just as I am about to lift the meat scissors to my forehead, Ping…
Jerimiah: Are you cutting your hair in the bathroom?
Me: Bitch! No. Leave me alone.
Jerimiah: This isn’t like a “new year, new you” thing. Think this through please.
Me: Leave me alone!
Scissors up. Then I realize if I cut where I want to cut, then I cut a lot more hair than I intend to. It’s not so much a bang cut, more like a hair cut and do I even want a haircut? Hmm. What about that video I saw where the girl leans over and lets her hair hang over and she cuts it at an angle?
Me: You know that video where the girl hangs her hair over and they cut it at an angle?
BFF: No, dude. No.
Me: But I think I can probably do it.
BFF: Remember that time you wanted me to dye your hair and we used all the holes in the cap and you had that layer of blonde only at the top and it was like three days before senior pics?
BFF: Shit like that will happen if you do this.
Me: Damn it, man!
Then I stand in front of the mirror. Scissors in one hand, my phone in the other, and I wait for divine intervention. A sign. A signal that this is exactly what needs to happen right now, this very instant. Then suddenly. Ping…
BFF: Dude, I think maybe you should do it.
BFF: Cause honestly, it’s your life and you only live it once, and who the hell am I or Jerimiah to tell you whether or not you have the forehead for bangs?
Me: Did you pour yourself some wine?
BFF: For sure.
Me: Want me to wait ten minutes then we can FaceTime and do it together?
BFF: Oh, no, for sure not, no. I’m not spiraling here, you are.
Then I cut my own bangs.
Listen, here is my point in as much as I have one: Sometimes when you need to feel a little, teeny, bit in control of your life because things feel like they are totally spinning out of control, then okay, sure, cut your own bangs, but try to limit your control to that. Just the bangs, y’all. Just the bangs.
I love cards. All sorts of cards. Christmas cards, birthday cards, Valentine cards, cards for support, cards for friendship, congrats cards. I love to give cards. I like to send “I miss you” cards, I like to give thank you cards. Those are my favorite. Telling someone how much they mean or meant to you during a certain time in your life, how can you beat that? I like postcards from far-off places. I like postcards from super close places. My mother-in-law used to travel a lot for work, Hawaii, Alaska, Asia. We have post cards from places we have never been. Then there are the cards from places we have been, but were sent to just say hi. New Orleans, Memphis, California. I treasure them all the same. My husband, not much of a card guy, likes for me to give him handmade cards, because, well, “Why would you spend seven dollars, SEVEN DOLLARS, on a card?!” He does have a point. Homemade cards ARE pretty great. But in a pinch, store-bought cards work the same. Because it doesn’t matter so much what the card says, it is what the writer of the card felt, thought, and wrote that matters the most.
My love for cards wasn’t always there. In fact, when I was a kid I remember stripping the money from the card, or disappointingly shaking it to find stickers or stick of gum (who does that to a kid?!) then tossing them aside. My mother, a lover of cards, would say, “Now Missy, you have to read what they wrote.” But I didn’t care. Nowadays, I get so excited when an unexpected card arrives in my mailbox I will wait to open it. I will wait until I have a quiet time, with a quiet spot, so that I can dig into the words on the card. I’m a weirdo, we know this. But words. I like them, ya dig? My mother still sends cards to Jackson once a month. He strips the money out (she always sends him a couple dollars to add to his allowance) then tosses the card. “Read what she wrote,” I say, my mother’s unmistakable voice coming out of my own mouth.
We’re moving next month, and we have been packing. Going through old tubs marked “Memorabilia”. We have found our old high school year books. Our letters, not attached to jackets. Jerimiah’s prom pictures. My old awards (proof that there was once a time I excelled in math), and tubs of Jackson’s art work from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. And we’ve discovered cards. Lots of cards.
It pains me to say, but I’ve started throwing cards away. I have flashes of my son, grown, sitting in my attic going through my things after I’m gone and him finding cards from 1989. Or sugar packets. Or expired cans of tomato soup. (I don’t know, I’ve heard stories.) The point is, I don’t think he will appreciate the things I do, maybe I am wrong, but probably he will flip the card over and say, “Seven dollars for a card! That is ridiculous!”
I’ve found other kinds of cards in our tubs: Baseball cards. I remembered that I was a collector of baseball cards. I loved them. I started playing softball in 3rd grade and I played through high school. I played on co-ed leagues in my 20s. I love softball. Unfortunately, they don’t make softball cards, or didn’t when I was a kid, so I collected baseball cards. (Thought: See if they make softball cards now. How cool for little girls to collect cards of the college girls out there doing it?!)
My baseball card collection eventually went deeper. I started collecting all sorts of cards, the size of baseball cards. Maybe this was a thing when I was a kid. I remember falling out of favor with stickers around this time and picking up the old baseball card habit. My adorable, fuzzy, scented Rainbow Brite stickers, were replaced by the best Derrick Thomas cards, or Scottie Pippin (my heart swooned) or GASP! Casper the Friendly Ghost cards?! I even started collecting cards from popular music groups back in the day. You remember these cards? Super Star Cards they said. I had Paula Abdul and Debbie Gibson. I had Cheap Trick, and one time my sister tried to steal that one. Bitch. The weirdest collection I think I came upon in my tubs were the Desert Storm cards from Kaybee Toy Stores. Whew! Was that a flashback or what?
Of course, it isn’t the actual card that I remember. It is that moment in my life. Or the person who sent it. Or the emotion behind it that surges through me now. I know, for example, that the Desert Storm cards from KayBee came from a very specific KayBee in Lawton, Oklahoma. There wasn’t a KayBee in Leavenworth, but there was one in Lawton, and we went there frequently right around the start of Desert Storm because my sister and her husband were stationed at Ft. Sill. I remember the mall. I remember the store. I remember the feeling of pending war all around us. The stifled, humid summer air. I remember lunch at Taco Tico. And Prairie Dogs. And the swimming pool at their apartment complex. These cards bring up all of that.
Maybe I am not being fair to the cards. Maybe they deserve a spot in my scrapbooks or photo albums. Maybe some silly, little piece of card stock is just as important as a snapshot. But I fear they are only that important to me. My son, sifting through those attic boxes, won’t understand the excitement of unwrapping a Randy Johnson rookie card. He won’t scream with joy from unearthing a Raef LaFrentz Nuggets card. He won’t feel that particular anxiety rise up in his chest when he remembers Desert Storm, the night that Bernie Shaw came on our little colored television and said, “Something is happening outside…Peter Arnett, join me here. Let’s describe to our viewers what we’re seeing…The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated…We’re seeing bright flashes going off all over the sky…”
Because, after all, it isn’t the cards that matter. It’s the memories and they are mine, not his. Not yet.
Maybe I will save the cards after all. Maybe we all should.
Hey, y’all, let’s talk about butt stuff. I was listening to a new book the other day by a writer who I think is funny, and witty, and thought-provoking. I was just about to inch up in the car line at Jackson’s school when she started describing a sexual encounter that she had recently had that involved, you guessed it, butt stuff. So I did what any respectable mommy would do, I turned it up so the people in front of me could hear too, because people want to hear about butt stuff, they just don’t want to admit it. Now she was not so polite as to call it that, she had some other choice phrases for it, maybe “butthole licking” and what not, but I’m gonna stick with “butt stuff” as a general topic and I am going to go ahead and say now, I ain’t into butt stuff.
Now I know what you are thinking. This is one of those Doth Protest too Much instances. Like how Mike Pence “hates” homosexuals, or when I get drunk and tell everyone that women need to stop wearing low-cut shirts. Read: Pence enjoys being tea-bagged and I love a good low-cut shirt on a voluptuous lady. But I really don’t like butt stuff. However, I am not shaming those of you who do. You do you, BooBoo! You’re not alone. In fact, there are a million articles about how men and women both secretly like butt stuff, and of course my generation is to blame for it. Like we are all walking around tapping people not he shoulder and saying, “Psst, hey, let me stick this vibrator up your butt.” And then promising a trip to Applebee’s afterward.
There probably isn’t a trip to any once-popular dining establishment that would get me to do butt stuff, which is saying a lot as I once said, “There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for a waffle-dog from that place in Hell’s Kitchen.” But there is something I wouldn’t do, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing Meatloaf wouldn’t do, but maybe our reasoning is different. Here is mine: Poop comes from that place.
I know you know this. Or at least I hope you know this, but do you know that poop is there even when you don’t know poop is there? Follow me.
About 12 years ago I went to the doctor because I had some weird stuff happening in my butthole area. (Side-note: Jerimiah HATES when I say “butthole” as in talking about my ACTUAL FUCKING ANUS, but he’s totes fine if I am talking about the Butthole Surfers or calling our 10-year-old son a “butthole-io”. He just hates when I use the word to describe the actual place that poop comes from. Which is hella weird to me and so I do it whenever I can.)
So I set up an appointment with my doctor and her student that followed her around. This student was becoming a Physicians Assistant, and had been placed with my doctor for a year to shadow her. They were both lovely and sweet, until the day the student stuck her finger in my butthole.
It started with them asking about my symptoms. They nodded their heads and listened intently, then my doctor typed some stuff into the computer. She wasn’t one of those doctors who doesn’t make eye contact with you while you’re talking, she was always genuienly concerned while she listened, and she would wait until you were finished speaking to make her notes. But it was a little nerve-wracking to have two sets of eyes on you as you describe the various things that are coming from you.
As I finish up, the doctor decides that it was probably hemorrhoids and I’m like cool, what pill do I take for that? And she’s like, first we have to make sure. And I’m all cool, how do we make sure and she’s all, “Pull your pants down and roll over.” Hmmm. Maybe she said it in a nicer way, but that’s what I heard. Maybe, probably, there was a gown, and probably I had to get undressed in the quiet of the room while thoughts raced through my head like butt cancer and I should have just WebMd’d myself and does that window open?
But here is what I remember with clarity. I was on my side, profusely sweating, the white paper on the bed was sticking to me, I couldn’t move least I expose myself, and the doctor looked over at the student and asked her if she wanted to do it and the student said, “For sure!”
Right as I was about to ask, “Do what?” the student walked behind me, lifted up the gown onto my hips, spread my cheeks apart, and stuck her finger in my butthole.
Let me stop for a moment. In hindsight, I should have known what was about to happen. I mean, I went to the doctor complaining about butt pain. But I was young, 25-ish, and this was my first rodeo. And honestly I thought maybe the doc was going to wheel in an ultrasound machine and look into my stomach, or schedule me for some kind of procedure wherein I was put to sleep while they rooted around. This is to say, I was zero percent prepared for an actual exam to take place that day, at that moment. Even with these two fairly nice women who, thankfully, had small hands.
After the initial surprise, I wasn’t really sure where to look. I mean, I had visited this doctor countless times, she even did my annual exams, but I wasn’t used to looking her dead in the eye whilst someone had their finger in my butthole. When she had her fingers in my vagina, I usually looked up to the ceiling, but I couldn’t do that this time, because I was on my side. So I just closed my eyes. Then I worried that closing my eyes would somehow signify that this was a relaxing pose for me, which made me afraid that they would think I usually have a finger in my butthole.
Luckily the exam didn’t last very long. It was only a matter of seconds, less than a minute for sure, then she pulled her finger out and said, in a very excited tone may I add, “Ohh! Fecal matter!” I looked over my shoulder, along with the doctor, and there on the student’s finger was a bit of, well, fecal matter. She was very excited about this and I was very confused as I did not feel like I should have any fecal matter on deck at that time. In fact, I felt oddly cleaned out.
Then they explained that this was a happy moment, because they could send the fecal matter to the lab and run some tests on it. Then I remembered that time I had to chase my dog around with a ziplock bag to collect some of her fecal matter to have sent to a lab and I was like, holy actual shit, they are testing me for worms! Again, hindsight. They probably weren’t testing me for worms, but you know, I was distressed.
So I got dressed, the doctor and student came back in, and they explained that the student had felt nothing which means it probably wasn’t hemorrhoids and that they would send off my sample, and get back to me. A couple days later she called to tell me that there was nothing unusual and sometimes that just happens and to keep an eye on my BMs, but not to worry. I didn’t have butt cancer.
What did I learn? There is ALWAYS fecal matter in your butthole. Like, always. Even when you don’t think there is, someone, somewhere, can find some if they go deep enough. I know, I know I don’t have to connect the dots for you, well most of you, so let me just say this: The next time you and your consenting partner are fooling around and one of you is all, hmm, butt stuff sounds kinda fun. Please take the image of me, on my side, with a gloved finger in my butthole and a woman screaming, “Fecal matter!” into consideration.
Criminal statute of limitations: A criminal statute of limitations defines a time period during which charges must be initiated for a criminal offense. If a charge is filed after the statute of limitations expires, the defendant may obtain dismissal of the charge.
Alright, I think we got the important stuff out of the way. When I was a teenager some friends and I defaced a statue at a private establishment that was notorious for showing oppressive racism to certain minorities in and around the community. Whew. As far as I can remember, it went like this: We had this Black friend. (To be fair, we had a lot of Black friends. I am not stating this to then go, “So obviously I am not racist”, I am stating it to make sure that you are aware that this was not a “white only” kinda town. It was a pretty diverse town, actually, for it being Kansas and all. But the point is, at least a quarter of the population is minority and they were/are discriminated against on the reg.) Or maybe our friend was of mixed race, or maybe it was a family member of a friend, either way, we knew someone who was denied acceptance into this club on the basis of their skin color, or so we had heard. That is to say, we didn’t know if this organization was racist, but we had a pretty big hunch. Our friend’s story was one of a dozen or so other stories that floated around our community in the 1980s and 1990s regarding this club, that is part of a bigger group called: The Fraternal Order of Eagles.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles grew out of a theater troop in Seattle, Washington in the late 1800s. They engaged in performing arts and were instrumental in making Mother’s Day a national holiday. The most fun thing about their history is that, at one point the only rules of membership were as follows: One must be 21 years old, possess a good character, not be a communist and be a caucasian.* So, yeah, our hunch was probably accurate.
Anywho, The Fraternal Order of Eagles #55 sits on the corner of 20th and Choctaw Streets in my hometown of Leavenworth, Kansas. I spent many summer days swimming in it’s pool with a number of friends whose parents or grandparents were members. When I was kid it was much preferred to go to a pool a Fort Leavenworth to swim, the Leavenworth Country Club, or The Eagles (as it was affectionally called) as opposed to one of the gross, public swimming pools, and lucky me, I had connections all over. But this particular pool had a twisty slide that really filled up the fun meter. I never even noticed that there weren’t any people of different skin colors there. I just ate popsicles in the sun and took turns looking for that Polo nerd with my friends.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager and heard the grumblings around town, and met actual people who had been banned, or asked to leave, or told they couldn’t come into the pool area, that I started to realize how racists those SOBs were. That’s also when I was called to take action.
One summer night my friends and I were hanging out at one of our houses when someone (I won’t name names here, but she knows who she is, we will call her LouAnn) had the grand idea to make The Eagles pay for being the racist SOBs that they were. She suggested that we walk the few blocks from her house and vandalize (gasp) the eagle. I was a bit nervous about being on foot, so I suggested that our friend, whose grandmother was a well-known member, should drive the getaway car instead. We all agreed.
Next day we got out hands on the brightest, most obnoxious spray paint we could find, gassed up the car, and all piled in. I believe there was five of us, including the driver. We all wore black, and we had a flashlight. After all, it was nearly midnight and we didn’t want to risk being caught, likewise, we didn’t want to risk me tripping over a rock and having to scream at them as they ran back to the car, “Just leave me! Leave me, damn it!” They would have felt guilty. I think.
We rolled up to The Eagles parking lot quite slowly. I wish I could tell you, dear reader, that this was our first foray into misdemeanor-ing, alas, it was not. We were a rowdy bunch, who routinely enjoyed rolling around town in a hot-boxed car looking for trouble, and trouble did sometimes find us. Thank the good, baby Jeebus this was well before Snapchat and Instagram and the like. In fact, while I was already a budding photographer and amatuer filmmaker, I left all that at home this night. If this were today, of course, I would make them all pile around the eagle after the deed was done and take a group selfie. I have very little shame.
Rachel, damn it I mean the driver, rolled to a stop with the headlights off, slammed it into neutral pointed toward a small incline, and said, I’m leaving your asses if this goes south. Ever the supportive friend, that one.
LouAnn hopped out first, always eager to get the party started. Followed by the other two. I took a little longer contemplating my move. I could always just stay here safe in the car with Rachel, damn it, I mean the driver. I mean, I was a lot slower than the other three. If someone did pass by and happen to see, I had no doubt they could take off in a hurry and hide. I sat motionless weighing my options until Rachel said, Go bitch, let’s get this done. Then I rolled out of the slowly moving car.
LouAnn and the gang were already at the eagle when I caught up, out of breathe and wheezing a bit. The eagle just sat there in all its iconic majesty. Should we sing “America the Beautiful” I wondered to myself.
Do it, someone said.
And so we covered that tired-ass eagle in bright orange spray paint, the kind utility workers use to draw lines on the grass.
Fuck you, Eagles, someone screamed into the darkness of the building.
Fuck you, Eagles, we all thought, as the paint made its way from person to person, all taking our anger and indignation out on this statue. This is for our friends, this is for our community, this is to send you a message, you racist bastards!
Soon enough the spray can was out, and Rachel blared on the horn as she circled the lot, a cue that someone might be coming. We ran fast back to the car. I don’t remember running that fast before that day, or ever since. My heartbeat pounded in my ear. My feet hard on the pavement, as I had pulled my flip flops off to run faster.
That night we drove through the streets of our hometown, laughing, and screaming, and singing No Doubt out the window. Sappy pathetic little me, that was the girl I used to be, you had me on my knees…
The next morning the Leavenworth Times ran a pic of the eagle on the front page. They said it was an affront to the town. They wanted to know who was repsonsible. Of course, we were already told about the eagle by the driver’s grandmother, who had cursed on the phone to her Who would do such a thing? As far as I know, the mystery was never solved.
That was 20 years ago, and I can’t tell you where all the people in that car are today. I’m not even sure if the Eagles is still the same old racist hold-out that it once was. But I can tell you, knowing what I know now, we weren’t as wild as we thought we were, and thank goodness for that. Still, those were exciting times, even when we weren’t fighting for social justice. Something changed for me that night. I realized that I had this power. Now I know it as white privilege. I understand now that I can use my life and my work and yeah, even my streak for vandalism, to fight for others who are ignored, bullied, and just plain made to feel shitty about themselves for no reason other than the color of their skin. We called bullshit on all that the night we turned that eagle orange, and I would do it again, with those same people, in a heartbeat.
Be kind, y’all. And use your power for good. Don’t spray paint eagle statues. There are cameras now. 🙂
*As of 2019, membership is open to any person of good moral character, and believes in the existence of a supreme being, and is not a member of the Communist Party nor any organization which advocates the overthrow of the United States government. Uh huh…
Y’all remember that time I worked at a country club for four years? If not, get yourself up to speed here: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/02/03/beer-cart-girls/ When I quit serving at the country club to move to Southern Missouri in 2004, I swore off restaurant work forever. I had seen all I needed to see, and learned all I needed to learn. But, I still wasn’t ready to get, like, an office job, and I was far from being mature enough to give college a second try, but I still needed a job, which meant one of two things: Either sell drugs (which was a super easy job to break into along the I-44 corridor) or work in a restaurant. Now to be fair, there were obviously other jobs out there, but I already knew how to do the restaurant thing, so I shrugged my shoulders, applied to the first place I found that was hiring, and got hired immediately, because duh, look at me.
This place was a popular, casual dining establishment. It’s funny to me that I seldom name the actual place in conversation. It’s like I am protecting it for some reason. But to be honest, it did me no favors, so I worked for Ruby Tuesday. To be specific, I worked at the Ruby Tuesday at the Branson Mall in Branson, Missouri. At the time it was built it was part of a franchise owned by a man we will call Johnny B., who was total fucking nutcase. The restaurant was short-lived. In fact, not long after I quit they boarded that bitch up. Which has always brought me great joy, cause I was one loyal SOB to that place, and they took me for granted.
Though to be fair, I met some of my bestest friends and worstest enemies at Ruby Tuesday, and I still love and hate them just as much as I did back then. Shout out to the P-Trio Plus! We were some bomb-ass playas, ya dig?
Anyway. Things I learned from transitioning to a private country club in Leavenworth, Kansas to a public, casual dining establishment that actually had to for real, publish their health code violations:
You cannot stick your finger in the food of people you hate
It is frowned upon to carry cases of beer wrapped in trash bags out to the “dumpster” when the “dumpster” is actually your friend’s car
You don’t just walk up to the line and ask your favorite cook, the one who you sometimes make out with in the linen closet, to drop you a cheeseburger and fries, you have to like, ring up and pay for the food you order, because: inventory?
But, you actually don’t even really need to do that, cause you can just graze on the awesome salad bar all day long, which for real, is awesome, go eat it right now
You have to tip the bussers, but also, you don’t have to keep a detailed list of all the times you clocked in and out because the GM was stealing your tip money and/or a portion of your $2.35/ hour paycheck to pay for his mistress to have an abortion
Oh, but there are still people who scam the system: Looking at you, Hugo or “Richard” (who is now, no shit, working for Taney County in some real, adult role and trusted with money) and Jerry (who last I knew drives a cab and delivers pizza)
Again, how to make a realistic looking police report
I learned a lot in the serving industry. In fact, like most places, you can always learn from those around who have done more and seen more. Take for instance, Truck-Stop Judy. Now, I did not make up that name for her. She had that name when I arrived at Ruby’s, but it would appear that she came by it rightly. She, in her manners, look, speech, and demeanor, looked like a woman a man may find soliciting herself at a truck stop. But, she was kind of nice, sometimes, and she was the day bartender when I started working.
She was the first person to think I was worth more than the job I was doing. She told me this in between smoke breaks and what must have been a painstaking process of apply enough eye liner to stay on through the sweat of the day, but just a bit too much so that it would often run down her face when she’d sling the ice into the bar bucket. Truck-Stop Judy said that I was fit for “management” (cue that scene in Waitingwhere the guy is holding an ice pick and erratically jabbing at the ice, and if you haven’t watched the movie Waitingplease stop reading this and run now to watch it. It is real, real life).
Anyway, one day Truck-Stop Judy asked me to “watch the bar” for her while she ran to Walmart to pick up some Mucinex or some other over-the-counter drug that you probably use to mix up meth in your bathtub. I said sure, unknowingly walking into the late-afternoon bar rush. That’s when all the people who work first shifts, in retail, other restaurants, and down at the charcoal factory are done for the day and pick places that have cheap burgers, but also tequila. Shout out to Jimmy Cuervo, the mid-day manager at the McDonalds across the street who would come in every afternoon for two shots of, you guessed it Jose Cuervo, in the middle of his shift. Hey, we all have our things.
Anyway, she set me up. Hard. So I should have been mad, except I rocked that shit like I was rocking the cash bar (which is how I heard the song in my head), and I made a hell of a lot more money than I did serving soup to senior citizens at three o’clock in the afternoon. I was hooked on the bar and she was happy to have someone getting ice for her, so I unofficially became the bar bitch.
That lasted for a few short weeks until Truck-Stop Judy didn’t show for work one day, then the next, then the next, and they were like, “Hey Missy you wanna be a bartender?” And I was all, “Shit yeah, but does anyone know what happened to Truck-Stop Judy?” And they were like, “Ehh.” And I was like, “Who cares?! Dolla, Dolla, bills y’all!” And just like that I was a bartender, only this time it was legal and I was making a hell of a lot more money.
Being the day bartender at a casual dining establishment like Ruby Tuesday in the middle of Branson, Missouri isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. But to be fair, I tried the weekend shifts, and the Sunday morning shifts, and the only nights thing, and the day bar worked best for me. I didn’t have the right mentality to flirt with drunk men on Saturday nights, I didn’t have the desire to hear old-timers impart wisdom on me after they left church and stopped by for a Bloody Mary or two on the way home to their extended families, and I certainly wasn’t built for the sad sacks that roll in at 9 pm on a Wednesday all alone and tired of watching porn in their hotel rooms. Jesus, I have some limits.
The Monday-Friday day bar shift was the shit. I could roll in about ten am, eat some breakfast from Jimmy Cuervo’s McDonalds, set up my tables, get the bar rolling for the day, and usually not have a single guest until noon. Then from noon to 2:00 pm be balls to the wall busy, then have a small reprise from 2:00 to 3:00 to scarf down that salad bar, stock up for the next rush, and talk shit with the other servers. Then promptly at 4:00 I’d get the second bar rush of the day, usually women meeting after work (while they were still supposed to be at work) bitching about their bosses and their husbands, and families with a couple of kids who were headed to a show later, but who were totally hip enough to take their kids to the “bar area” of the restaurant. By the way, we were a “smoking” bar. This was before they passed the law in Branson that you can’t smoke inside, so people could puff it up, then blow their smoke directly into my face and their tiny kids’ faces. And they did. All the time. Eww.
Shift change was at 5:00 and nothing is sharper than a shift change at a bar. If the evening bartender was not there at 4:55, their ass was getting a call from me. “Where you at, Bro?” and “I’m not fucking kidding you better be here at 5:00 if you want you bar stocked.” Because I had to stock the evening bar up for them, you know, “Set them up for success” but I wouldn’t do it until they got there and took over the guests. So the longer it took for them to get there, the longer it took me to get home, and the longer it was before I was in pajamas in front of the tv watching Brokeback Mountain for the fifth time. That bitch needed to hurry.
When they would stroll in at 5:05, I would be pissy and short with them, and head back to dry storage with my list. Five Budweisers, three Mich Ultras, 15 PBRs, and napkins, tooth picks, and sugar packets. I would end up inside the beer cooler longer than I wanted because someone had knocked over a keg, or dropped a beer bottle and not cleaned it up. Assholes, I would mumble. Sometimes someone would walk by and lock the cooler up when I was in it and laugh and laugh. I would of course get them back by writing, “Sometimes I drink so much I pee my pants when I am asleep” on the receipt paper right before they printed off their table’s ticket and they would be met with laughter when they stopped back by the pick up the payment, realizing as they open the book what had happened. It’s the little things, really.
For all this bullshit, I still made only about $100 a day in tips, and that was good for this joint. Of course, the management liked to remind me, I’m still making my $2.35/hr while I am mopping up spilled vodka from the bar floor, or carrying a dead mouse out of the beer cooler, or ushering 22-year-old girls into the bathroom to vomit. So, there’s that silver lining.
I don’t know how normal fucking people make it in the service industry. I was not normal. I lived with my boyfriend, who always worked a “day job” in an office somewhere, and worked a couple bar shifts a week himself. We lived on a beautiful lake, in a house that his parents owned and we paid very little to live there. We both had working vehicles, and insurance, and some sense of obligation and duty to our community. We even fucking volunteered on Sunday afternoons at the damn library helping senior citizens learn how to work computers. But there were an awful lot of people that I worked with who did not have our life.
I quickly worked my way up through the ranks and before I knew it I was the manager on duty. I was doing initial interviews with possible candidates, I was making schedules, and helping people fill out I-9s. That is when I really learned the shit people go through for a crappy job.
Branson is a highly transient area, with a large hispanic population and many of them do not make it here in legal ways. This was my first experience with this and the first time I ever learned what a “coyote” is. We had a couple of them who worked in the kitchen from time to time. So I was forced to have uncomfortable conversations with immigrant workers who I knew for a fact where in the US illegally. I had to repeatedly ask them to bring in a social security card that was real (I had been trained to spot the fake ones) or an ID with their picture on it. “No me importa qué nombre es,” I’d say in broken-ass Spanish, “pero tiene que ser tu cara.” They’d smile and say no problem and promise to bring it in the next day, then I’d never see them again. I didn’t realize when I was living this life, and I lived it for nearly six years, how much of an impact it would have on me. Hindsight, right?
Today I tip the fuck out of people, yo. I tip servers and bartenders at least 20% even if they sucked, cause yeah, we all have bad days. I tip valet dudes. I tip hotel workers. I tip the dog groomer. I tip the mailman, but in baked goods cause I am still not sure how that works. I tip anyone in a service job who I think would appreciate a tip, and sometimes people who I shouldn’t tip. They look at me nervously and say they can’t accept that and I want to scream, take it, you deserve it, to the lady filling up the salad bar at Harris Teeter.
And you need to be doing the same. And if you are in a situation where you are not sure if they can get a tip, ask them. If it is someone who does something for you and you know they can’t be tipped, like the guy who drops off your Amazon package or the dude behind the deli at Walmart (I’ve asked), tip them in compliments. Tell them they are rocking it back there and that they are the best at cutting your roast beef. Tell them you like to come see them. Tell them their smile made your fucking day. Do it. And do it some more.
Serving sucks, y’all. My husband and most of my friends have lived that life and if you haven’t, then count yourself lucky. It takes a certain kind of attitude to do that work. To have a service mentality toward others and to outwardly show it. To deal with the day to day bullshit of what is thrown at you. And make no mistake. Servers you come across are not in that line of work “for fun”. They are there because that’s the only place they can get a job at that moment. Or it was the only place hiring. Or they live close and don’t have a car. Or they aren’t comfortable in an office, or a strict 9-5 and there are not a lot of other places that offer that. So remember to be kind. Especially to people who can totes stick their finger in your mashed potatoes and you’d never fucking know.
If you’re like me up, until recently you had no clue what a Charcuterie Board was. Well, gather round kiddies, I’m gonna tell you all about it. See back in my day we called a charcuterie board a “cheese and meat tray” and more recently, at two am on a Saturday while I sat on the toilet gripping my stomach, I screamed to my husband that I shouldn’t have eaten all those “weird-ass cheeses and meats on that wood plank”. Which is to say, it goes by many names.
Picture this: It’s a warm, sunny day in Saluda, North Carolina and I walk into an ultra-hip restaurant with my friends and family and a hankering for some cheese. A thin man with a wicked-sweet porn star mustache and uncomfortably skinny jeans approaches our table, and I ask, “Y’all got cheeses and stuff?” And he’s like, “Uhhh…” So I say, “You know, cheeses and like, things” as I make a shape like a board in front of me. Then he says, “Ohhhh, do you mean a charcuterie board?” And I’m all, “Maybe…” Then he winks and says he will take care of me and I’m nervous because I think that might be a sexual suggestion and I’m not into mustache rides… from a skinny dude. Turns out he meant he would bring me meats and cheeses, because the next thing I know this fancy-ass board is placed in front of me, and Boom! I am introduced to the world of charcuterie.
Charcuterie is a French word, duh. (If you couldn’t work that out, then I just can’t help you, it’s above my pay grade.) It roughly translates to “cooked meats” like bacon, ham, sausage, and a bunch of real fancy, French-ass meats. (Side note: The person who prepares a charcuterie is called a charcutier, which means “pork butcher” successfully rendering me a butcher. Which has always been a life goal.) Basically it is shelf-stable meat, right? Forcemeat, emulsified sausages, brined meats that, eaten in large quantities, cause gastrointestinal cancer, as well as diarrhea (see above).
Then there are the cheeses. Oh Cheezus Christ, the cheeses. There is aged cheddars, and goat gouda. There is gorgonzola and stilton. There is asiago and brie. Stop it right now, I can’t take it anymore! I LOVE cheeses!
Whew. Sorry. That was inappropriate and uncalled for, but you know, necessary, in a get-all-your-burdens-off-your-chest sorta way. Thanks for listening. I owe you one.
So I decide, Missy, you can be fancy-ass too. You too, can host a party and have a charcuterie board. It can’t be that hard to do. And so I did it, in these 18 easy-to-follow steps.
Step One: Get a board. This step took me seven months. Listen, I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell, Missy? I just Googled it and I can have one at my house in three hours.” But listen, like most great ideas I get, I sorta, kinda, forgot what I was doing. Sure, I looked on Amazon as soon as I got home last summer, and even placed a couple of boards in my cart for good measure. And whenever I was bored or needed to shop I would look at my boards and picture what kind of cheeses I wanted to try. But I never pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, I did move on to step two.
Step Two: Get some favorite meats and cheeses. This was simple for me because I already knew two things. 1. Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheese is the best aged cheddar on the face of the planet and I will fight anyone who disagrees and 2. I don’t like hard salami.
Step Three: Invite friends over for a charcuterie.
Step Four: Convince them there will be wine too and tell them to stop asking you questions about the food, they will get fed, look, are you assholes coming or not?
Step Five: Go to Harris Teeter in a panic to get olives.
Step Six: Yell at your husband because you told him to get “fancy-ass beer” to go with the “fancy-ass cheeses” and then roll your eyes when he asks what the hell a “fancy-ass beer” is. “SOMETHING LOCAL!” you scream as you slam the drawer closed when you realize you have nothing to cut cheeses with. (I’m taking the high road here and not including a joke about “cutting cheese”.)
Step Seven: Google “How do you cut cheeses” and find that you need special cheese cutting utensils.
Step Eight: Drive to TJ Maxx. They have everything.
Step Nine: Buy the special utensils, a new wallet, three new dog toys, Christmas ornaments on clearance, two new toothbrush heads, and a llama painting.
Step Ten: Get home and realize you still don’t have an actual fucking “board”.
Step Eleven: Eye the trees in your backyard suspiciously. You have that old hand sander that you bought yourself for your 35th birthday. You could probably make a new board in the next three hours.
Step Twelve: Resign to use a big “platter”.
Step Thirteen: Start to cut up the cheeses and meats, realizing that you have no idea which utensils works for which cheese, abandon the utensils and saw at the bricks of yellow and white until they are start to crumble all over your counter.
Step Fourteen: Call your friends and tell them you have a horrible migraine and you can’t host the party. Send sad, sick emojis and promise a kick-ass party to make up for it.
Step Fifteen: Cry in your bathroom while you eat the crumbles of cheese from a ziplock bag.
Step Sixteen: Six months later happen upon a charcuterie board at TJ Maxx, snatch it up quickly and run to the register before you forget what you are doing.
Step Seventeen: Run over to Trader Joe’s and buy five bricks of aged cheddar, some asiago, some other cheeses that sound yummy, ham, salami, and some soft goat cheese. Get crackers.
Step Eighteen: Pull out the board and all these cheeses at your Super Bowl party likes it no big fucking deal and you do this all the time. You don’t label anything, or make it look fancy, least your friends think you have lost your mind. But you know, you kinda wish you had more time to plan.
There are very little jobs quite like working at a restaurant/bar. Maybe retail, maybe some kind of customer service, but to be fair you don’t usually have to deal with drunk people when you work at Old Navy. Then again, I myself have shopped at ON a little drunk on margaritas that were made too strong, on a Saturday afternoon at Applebee’s. Of course, that was back when Applebees was still the best place to go. But, I digress.
I started bussing tables at a country club when I was 17. Now look it. This was technically called a “Country Club”, but I’ve been in real Country Clubs in my adult life, and what the Leavenworth Country Club really was, really, was a beer join on a golf course. A sub-par 18-hole golf course, to say the least.
My best friend Rachel got me the job. She was serving, illegally, at 16 because her French grandmother had worked there for years and years, and also because it was a private establishment which means all sorts of illegal shit could go on and no one would say anything. And, uh yeah, all sorts of illegal shit went on there. Not just cooks smoking weed in the pantry, either. Members routinely cheated on there spouses in the women’s locker room, “straight” men met other “straight” men in the pool shack for a good time, teenagers snuck off to hole number 7 to do it doggy-style while they hoped the people in the houses that backed up to the course were peering out their windows. Don’t worry, they were. Lots of underage drinking. Lots of it. And that isn’t even scratching the surface. In fact, while we worked there, unbeknownst to us, the General Manager was embezzling so much money that the members were routinely called to be told they hadn’t made their monthly minimum or paid their dues, when in fact they had, but you know, he stole it all. Good times. Good times.
Rachel and I were just kids though, and we didn’t do too much in way of the illegal shit, besides of course the underage drinking part and the serving alcohol part (you are supposed to be 18 to serve) but that didn’t seem to matter to many people, even Jimmy V., our high school principal. He was a member at the club and he always smiled at us as we came though the door to the poker room with a double Jack and Coke in our hand. In fact, Rachel and I routinely let Jimmy V. behind the bar to make his own cup for the road on his way out. In return, whenever we had, uhh, failed to make it to class on time, we would stroll past his secretary and smile, waiving our tardy slip for him to see. “Hey Girlies,” he’d shout in his all encompassing, good-natured way, then motion for us to come on over to his desk so he could excuse whatever mess we had gotten into with our damn Home Ec teacher. “See ya Wednesday night!”
Ahh, the joys of learning reciprocity at such a young age!
Fast forward a couple of years and Rachel was the “official” Beer Cart Girl, a prize to be bestowed upon the prettiest, thinnest, blondest of us. The beer cart was just like it sounds. It was a golf kart that had been outfitted with more rugged tires, a little more power (as much as can go on an electric golf cart) and the back seats had been stripped and a large cooler put in it’s place. It’s as janky as it sounds. I mean, it wasn’t like an Igloo strapped to the bumper, but pretty much.
Rachel fit the bill quite nicely, though she would never dye her hair a more golden like advised. She did, however, enjoy wearing short shorts and low-cut polos and she was a natural at flirting with the 60-year-old men who could be found on hole one promptly at 8 am each day. Every once in awhile Judy, our boss, would let me go out with Rachel, particularly if we were hosting a golf tournament . These were the BEST days, and here is why.
The members never dealt in cash. All their transactions were recorded the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. (Until one glorious day when a computer was installed, that we all hated very much and promptly ignored it.) So every time a member came in from the course and had lunch, or bought rounds for their whole group, or came in for Friday night’s Surf-n-Turf buffet, it was recorded on a ticket and they squared up at the end of the month.
The wait staff worked with a tip pool, and each ticket had 10% added to the total to give to that tip pool. Like this: Family of four comes in for dinner. They spend $100. They end up paying $110 at the end of the month, and that extra $10 went to the tip pool. If Rachel and I were the only ones on the shift that night, that means Rachel and I would earn $5 each toward our paycheck that week, less taxes (and your boss stealing a portion of it to support his gambling addiction). Those 10% tips were on top of our hourly wage, which I think hovered around the $5/hour mark, but it could have easily been more. I don’t remember. But I do remember when I get my first serving gig outside of the LCC, my actual fucking mouth dropped at the hourly wage. It was $2.35/hour. Gross.
Non-members didn’t have a running tab, so they were either sponsored by a member and allowed to put anything they wanted on their tab, or the more routine way, they paid for everything in cash. So when non-members were there for a tournament, or a wedding, or a day at the pool, they had to actually tip us, and usually they would over-tip for cool points with their member friends (although, can you really ever “over-tip” a server) and they tipped us in cold, hard, cash. Whoohoo!
So, a normal tournament Saturday on the Beer Cart went like this:
Rachel and I roll into work together (because my broke-ass didn’t have a car, so she picked me up every day) about 8:00 am. We are half asleep and a little hungover and her grandma is already there and she has already clocked us in. Thanks, Grandma. We eat whatever she has ordered for us, or scavenged after the breakfast rush so that Connie, the mean ass “chef” didn’t see. Usually it was sausage gravy and biscuits. Mmmmm. Then we walk downstairs to load the cart.
The cart was kept outside, but behind a fence because no one wanted to offend any of the members by seeing a golf cart parked outside… Every night it had to be plugged in so that it was fully charged. This was normally the job of the maintenance dude, or one of the cooks when they took the trash out (just remembering right now that the cart doubled as the “trash cart”, which I am sure broke at least 15 health code violations). Most of the time the cooks were too high to remember to plug the cart in, so it was always a crapshoot about how much juice it would have. Most days it was about half, so we would plug it in as we loaded it.
Loading it was a bitch. You had to load up the whole cooler with beer and water and Gatorade and whatever else you think the golfers would want out there. This meant to have a wide variety of everything. The beer was all downstairs near the cart in a room we called “Beer Alley” (but maybe I just called it that in my head) because it was a long storage room with cases of beer stacked up. It was locked, but I feel like everyone had a fucking key, or there was a hidden key or something, cause how the hell else were we always down there drinking the beer?! Who had the damn keys?!
Anyway, Rachel would usually con one of the cooks to come down and help us load that bitch up (they were all in love with her) and then I would start dishing out buckets of ice to pour over everything. Let’s be real, Rachel was the valiant steed and I was the donkey. After we got the cart loaded down with ice and beer (by this time Grandma has yelled at us for at least 30 minutes that the people on the course “want their beer”, keep in mind it’s like 9:00 am at this point). So we load up, grab our “tickets” for purchases, our cash box (which really is just whatever fives or ones the GM can pull out of his pocket when I stick my head into his whiskey-soaked office and say, “Dan, fucking wake up, dude, we need cash”), and a drink for the road. It’s morning, so usually a vodka/OJ that Rachel made when Grandma was in the bathroom. She also made a drink for the cook who helped us, because reciprocity. (Read: he was the weird one and she wasn’t going into a linen closet with his ugly ass.) Because we always keep it classy.
Rachel would drive for the most part, mainly because it didn’t matter how many times I went out onto the course, I still never remembered where hole number one was, nor did I understand the actual fucking rules of driving on a golf course, of which there apparently are. We would plan to spend all afternoon on the course, which meant our first spot was hole number 7, the same hole that, at that point in my life, had seen more action than I had. Hole number 7 (again, it could be hole 13 or 29, I don’t really know) butted up against a row of houses with senior citizens swinging on adorable back porch swings. They would watch us slide to a stop, the ice and beer shifting in the back, rocking the whole cart a bit, and then slather ourselves in baby oil, or some other kind of “tanning lotion” that Rachel bought from the “tanning salon” that she took me to (that was actually in a two houses connected by a tunnel) so I didn’t look so “sick all the time”, and I ended up getting third-degree burns from. “Maybe you shouldn’t use a tanning bed” she said laughing as she was forced to slather aloe on my lobster arms. It was her mess, she needed to fix it.
Usually I would pass on the lotions and what not, and just stick a sweatshirt over my legs and pray that the sun was nice that day. It never was. By this point we had already downed our vodka/ojs in the foam cups, so one of two things either happened. Either we were smart enough to have hide a foam cup in the bottom in the cooler, or we would just start pounding beers, either way it was time for another drink as the first group of golfers rounded the hill and spotted us. “Son-of-a-bitch,” I’d mumble as the actual guests I was actually being paid to serve started toward us smiling and waving like madmen.
The first group would load up, because they saw that we were going the opposite direction. Two to three beers each, a water or gatorade, and they’d ask if we had peanuts or some crazy shit like that, and I’d look at them like they were from outer space. Rachel would try to be accommodating and explain that we had lunch ready for them after their round, or that they could put in order in for something and we would run and grab it for them, but really, do you actually see that we are a golf cart loaded down with actual beer and maybe you should plan ahead you pieces of steaming dog shit and also thank you for my $5 cash tip, you know what, I am going to see if I can drum up some airplane peanuts for you. Wink. Wink.
The entire time I sat, stone-faced and a little drunk in the cart and recorded the transaction. Then a man would hand her a $20, and I’d look at Rachel and say, as if neither of us didn’t already know, “We can’t break that.”
“Oh, no!” Rachel would smile and put her arm on his, “We don’t have enough to break a $20. If you give me your name I will run up and get change and find you at the next hole.”
“Oh gosh no, girls, don’t worry about it, you keep the rest!”
“Oh are you sure, it’s not a bother!” She’d laugh, as she slipped the $20 in her pocket and said, “Have a great game!” As we sped off. It went on like this, hole after hole.
Our halfway mark was the bathrooms at the end of the course, right next to the main thoroughfare in Leavenworth/Lansing, Highway 7. So many times I sat in the beer cart, Rachel taking a pee break, and looked out onto the cars whizzing by and yearned for it to be three o’clock. So many times I watched as people sped by, honking occasionally, and I wished I were free from this beer cart, free from this stupid job, free from this routine. I was afraid. I was in community college by then, having drank my way out of KU the year before. I was concerned my life was going nowhere. I was afraid this was life, for Rachel and for me. Honestly, it very well could have been.
At some point on the way back up the course, the beer cart battery would become critically low. We’d gamble a bit, hit a few more holes, make $30 more dollars or so, then head in around lunch time. Then, after the cart charged, we restocked, helped Grandma in the bar for a the lunch rush, ate lunch ourselves to stave off the drunkenness, and go back out with the afternoon groups and do it all again. And it went on like this for four years.
Looking back now, I don’t regret my time there. I learned so much about friendship, about people, about working and patience. About how to have a good time all the time, even when it seemed like you couldn’t. But mainly I learned these things:
How to open my throat to let the beer just slide right down
How to drink gin. Tanqueray only, I don’t fuck with Beefeaters
How easy it is to talk a drunk girl into making out with you
How hard it is to get vomit out of your clothes, so maybe don’t fuck with the drunk girls
That straight women LOVE gay men and sort of, kind of, want to do the sex with them, even though they are married and they absolutely know that the man is gay
How to properly call into work
How to make a realistic looking police report
How to decide if the situation calls for the actual police in a hurry, of if we can get by with a call to the non-emergency 911 number
How to put out a grease fire, tip: It’s not water
How to flirt with old, white men who were once my track and field coaches in order to get an actual, goddamn $2 tip
How to talk to people who think they have a ton of money, but in reality they live paycheck to paycheck like me, but they just have a lot more credit
How to smile politely when you want to actually set a goddamn fire to the whole motherfucking place
Honestly, the best thing I learned the from my time at the LCC, was that I didn’t want that to be my life. I didn’t want to be a beer cart girl or a pissed off server for the rest of my life, and believe me we had them there. I didn’t want Rachel to be one either. I also didn’t want to be one of those gross members who spat out their orders at us like we were their slaves, and I didn’t want to be married to one of those guys who spent his whole life on the golf course, flirting with young girls, hoping that maybe one of them would flirt back.
Luckily, I am very far away from that girl today. So is Rachel. Rachel is married to a man who does not golf (thank the baby Jesus) and he’s a pretty fucking solid dude. She is also a third grade teacher in the #1 school district in Kansas, and a semester away from her Masters in Education. She’s probably gonna be your kids’ principal soon, and guess what, she knows how to make the “bad” kids feel comfortable, she knows how to teach the “lower” kids how to learn, and she knows how to work in the crappiest of circumstances, so she will be fine. And I’m super, duper proud of her.
Every summer Rachel comes to visit me, wherever I am, and we sit on my back deck and we laugh about those days, those girls, and all the lessons we learned. And we hope and we pray our kids have better fucking sense than we did. I’m pretty sure they do. 🙂
Hey Rachel, thanks for letting me ride along all those times. I love you and miss you like crazy.