It’s all in the way you look at it, right? I’ve read enough self-help
bullshit literature to know this. The curse becomes the gift, turn the frown upside down, silverliningbrightsideblahblahblahbitemebro. Got it. And I try, I really do. For example, if I hadn’t had such a miserable, lonely childhood, I wouldn’t have turned out so goddamned hilarious and able to entertain all of you (all 3 of you). If my husband hadn’t been such a deranged, manic-depressive douche-wagon, I would never have memorized the Top 10 Signs You’re Married to a Lunatic Handbook, and let’s face it – that shit comes in handy. If I hadn’t sustained irreversible brain damage from a tiny bug bite, I would not be enjoying the lifetime privilege of Being Allowed to Forget People’s Names. See? I’m so positive. I’m like a ray of fucking sunshine.
There’s one thing, though, that no matter how hard I’ve tried, I simply haven’t been able to transmutate, re-frame, or celebrate. Shit. It’s all the goddamned shit. Every. Single. Day. Of my life. Living with a four-legged horde (including a geriatric dog who really never did prefer to shit outside anyway – too cold/hot/wet/far) has sharpened my cleaning skills and bolstered my arsenal of shit-fighting products (my favorite proclaims without irony: “For Pet AND People Accidents!” How convenient is THAT?) to Armageddon-ready. When the End-Times are upon us and everyone else is wondering how on earth they’re going to get that pesky shit stain out? I’ll be smugly buffing away. Don’t come crying to me, people.
Of course, it’s not just shit. Five (five!) house-pets are inclined to produce all manner of bodily expulsions. Nearly every day I discover something which results in either irate profanity or bewildered wonderment – “What fresh hell is this?” I might say, while examining some unidentifiable heap of maybe-ass-cache. Puke, pee, hairballs, blood, farts (I don’t really have to clean up farts, granted, but sometimes it takes awhile to get them out of the couch.) I also *find* things (like the cleanly-bitten half-a-mouse in my garage the other day; his tiny face frozen in forever-horror as what I presume to be a giant she-wolf named Karma took a dainty bite of his lower torso and decided that particular treat was not worth her trouble – sorry, bro) that I somehow know will show up later in one of the aforementioned media. I have begun to brace myself when I come down the stairs each morning, certain that some mucousy horror awaits my bare footfalls. So here is where my peculiar genius rears it shit-stained head: I’ve begun to be able to predict, to a certain degree, where and what I might find, based on sounds heard in the night, wafting aromas, what is missing from the counter, how many dead frogs/birds/mice/crappyneighbors were pried from their jaws the day before. It’s bloody brilliant. I’m like the Horatio Fucking Caine of Household Accidents. And that’s when it hit me.
Poo Clue. It’s a game. Games are fun, right? Aaaand, there it is. Your goddamned Silver Lining. Now, when I awake each morning, instead of creeping dread and a quivering uvula, I greet the day wearing my thinking-cap (in my mind, it has a propeller) and get down to the business of solving nefarious ass crimes. It works like this: First, I choose a suspect. Let’s use Bucky for this example. Next, I must determine the location of the evidence BEFORE I step in it, or else I lose. In case that wasn’t obvious. I’m thinking the Parlor. Lastly, I narrow down the weaponry. I’m gonna say…diarrhea. (On days when I’m feeling really smart, I will add a subcategory to the chosen vehicle, like “foamy” or “Jesus Christ, is that my hot pink ear-bud?” but this is risky. Not intended for rookies.) SO, class, today’s sleuthing results in….say it with me: Bucky in the Parlor (I really do have a parlor. So shut the f*ck up.) with Foamy Diarrhea. *end-zone dances to cabinet housing impressive cleaning product supply*
Other possible combinations include: Meatball in the Hallway with a Hairball, Karma in the Laundry Room with Half-Eaten Mouse Vomit (and fuck if that fluffy bitch didn’t steal my last Valium), Lizzie Borden – Geriatric Pug – on the Bed with The Biggest Shit I’ve Ever Seen In My Entire Life (seriously, I could transcribe Anna Karenina on that shit. But that would be gross.), Stevie Nicks in the Kitchen with Pee (at least I think it’s pee. Could be bile. Will have to smell to confirm.) You get the picture.
The great thing is, anyone can play! Pets, children, husbands – you can now make ALL your life’s messes just a little more fun (you’re welcome). And not to toot my own horn (toot-toot!), but if I’m not mistaken, it would appear that I have just invented the only game in the whole history of time where, literally, nobody wins.
And that? Is awesome.
Honestly, it didn’t start out this way. I moved into this idyllic enclave with wide-eyed wonderment and childlike longing for the kind of neighborly closeness and camaraderie that I knew was possible from my fierce devotion to Melrose Place in the early 90s (yes, the classic years: post- Amy Locane, pre- Lisa Rinna. Bitch, please.). That’s right, friends, I did not come in with guns blazing, a’ la Amanda Woodward – plus I could NEVER get a handle on that awesome overbleached, messy sex-hair she rocked, no matter how I tried – nay, I fancied myself more the Matt Fielding of this strange new Utopia…the gentle, humble, selfless, quiet, gay Social Worker that everyone would pull for (granted, I am neither gentle, nor humble, nor selfless, nor nor quiet, nor gay, nor a Social Worker – but this MY blog, betches.). I was nice to everyone. Warm. Complimentary. Hospitable, even – inviting virtual strangers to “drop by anytime,” which, as you can probably gather, is a torture akin to Eyeball Acupuncture for yours truly. But determined as I was to live in harmony among my peers (because let’s face it, chaos can’t stop lovin’ me), I floated in upon gossamer wings – a peaceful pixie angel alighting in a limpid pool of unicorn tears, my goodness beaming brightly upon my neighbors like so much disco glitter. It was fucking exhausting.
And indeed, several months went by before the trouble started. In fairness, it was likely because I was hobbled by a broken foot, emotionally leveled by unfathomable personal deception and wallowing in self-loathing misery most of that time. Translation: I never left the house, and thus had very little opportunity to offend anyone (it’s a numbers game with me). But when Spring rolled around, I slowly began to dip my newly un-casted toe in the pool of the living once again – strolling the neighborhood with my responsibly leashed dogs* while making dramatic, exaggerated shows of picking up their poo and jauntily dangling the full shit-sacs for all to see as I made my rounds, lest anyone think me inconsiderate or cavalier.
*In fact, my leashes and poo-bags and muzzles singled me out as a priggish Mrs. Grundy – smugly parading my prissy ass about like a bustled Victorian school marm lost at a Vegas piercing convention. Leashes? Totally uncool, turns out. Talk about a goddamned backfire.
So imagine my surprise when, one summer evening, I passed the usual driveway-kegger raging on my street (6 drunk, fat dudes in plastic chairs, poised to scout the local talent. It’s SUPER classy.), and, bracing myself for the usual grunts and nudges of cro-magnonesque appreciation that, as a woman, I
live for expect and upon which I base my entire sense of self-worth unblemished moral superiority, was met instead with the following: “Oh, is that the BAD neighbor?” What. The. Fuck. Bro. Surely, there was some mistake. And I happen to know I was having a Good Ass Day – certainly worth a mention from some drunk fat dudes, anyway. They were simply referring to someone else. Right?
I successfully deluded myself until the following evening when, on my walk – clear on the other side of the development, far from the Driveway Douchenozzles – I encountered a swingy-skinned middle-aged-plus woman skipping down the road with her wildly age-inappropriate attire and loose, deranged dog, and asked her politely if she could leash or grab him as we passed. She did, but made sure to hiss at me ominously, “EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT YOU….”
First of all, harpy, SUPER sexy bucket hat (said no one, ever). And secondly, HUH? What is it that Everyone Knows? I had no voice to question her, so great was my shock. But it got me thinking. What DO they know? Seriously. As I did a mental rundown of likely personal infractions, my panic mounted in proportion to the list….Do they know about my unrelenting crush on Jeff Goldblum? Do they know that I almost never wash the pot after I make pasta? Do they know that my boobs are fake? Do they know that I watch the Disney Halloweentown movies at least once a month, year-round, and that they comfort me, unfailingly? Do they know that I used to collect little pieces of foot-skin as a child and keep them in a lavender velour box, sometimes snacking on them months later (hey, don’t knock it till you try it – that shit is DELICIOUS)? Do they know that I groom my lady parts sunny-side up on the living room floor so I can watch Vampire Diaries concurrently and imagine that one (fine, both – who am I kidding?) of the undead teen Salvatore brothers might come along and make the sadistic agony of undercarriage waxing, like, totally worth it? Do they know that when my doorbell rings, I always pretend I’m not home? Do they know that if I am sick or sad, I sometimes blow my nose in my shirt if the tissues are too far away? Do they know that my heart is perfectly fucking broken by missing my chance to have children? Do they know that when my cat gently kisses my eyelids, the sweetness of it makes me cry? Do they know that despite all my posturing and profanity, I truly and profoundly care what they think of me?
Meh. Probably not.
But whatever it is they do “know,” these neighbors of mine, I consider myself royally rogered. And somewhat unfairly judged – I’m not gonna lie. But I also understand that the only choice or chance I have is to whip up some crazy sex-hair, open a can of Amanda Woodward Certified Whoop-Ass up in this heezy, and sit my curvylicious ass down on the Iron Fucking Throne of Neighborhood Drama, its reluctant – but reigning – Queen.
So bring it, bitches. I know where you live.
Yup. I read them. All three. And yes, I feel dirty. Not, mind you, because of the much-heralded “Mommy Porn” contained therein – frankly, I found it all a bit lukewarm – but because I have just given weeks, nay, MONTHS! of my life to the most godawfully written, ploddingly plotted, and cringingly juvenile collection of rot in the entire history of time. With the possible exception of The Bridges of Madison County – but don’t even start me down that country road.
Let’s start with the “author’s” nom de plume, shall we? EL James. Which I still cannot recall without checking the spines of the books. I suppose it was her (gender assumed) intention to create the dullest, most forgettable handle possible in light of the literary horrors she was about to unleash upon the world. A pre-emptive strike against infamy, perhaps. But honestly? The books would have borne equal scholarly heft if they had been authored “By Bob” or “From the Desk of Cindy.” I absolutely get her need for anonymity, but I, for one, would prefer my S&M romances to be penned by more aptly named vixens, like Mistress Raven Blackwidow or Vinyl Von Vipervenom. It’s not asking much.
Allow me to get all of the righteously indignant “Christian Grey is an abusive, deplorable, mysogynistic sociopath” stuff out of the way now. Of course he is. He’s deranged. Broken beyond repair, controlling, self-loathing, physically dangerous and emotionally abusive. He is also an exceptional stalker (and I know whereof I speak here, having been stalked myself by one of the best and most cunning in the business – NOT a compliment, asshole). But friends, I cannot take this “literature” seriously enough to truly devote any time pondering the larger sociological ramifications of deifying a maniac like this, because clearly, our esteemed author did not. The pervasive moral directive she wants us to osmose is this: He’s rich, gorgeous, and hung like a woolly mammoth. Therefore he is awesome. And I gotta admit – sometimes, he kinda is. I mean, dude has a fully outfitted designer sex playroom! That? IS FANTASTIC. But I digress…
The true object of my detestation is our winsome heroine, Anastasia (Ana, unless she’s In Trouble). Honestly, a more loathsome character in modern literature I cannot possibly conjure, except maybe Lord Voldemort (and to be fair, that poor bastard doesn’t really have a face. I’d be pissed, too.) Ana is juvenile, insecure, petulant, narcissistic, tedious, self-absorbed, and worst of all, boring. She pouts (pouts!) to get her way, martyrs herself every chance she gets (then pshaws ensuing accolades by secretly nodding to her moral superiority), uses her “fragility” to manipulate EVERYONE, and poo-poos Christian’s lavish lifestyle for all of 8 minutes before requesting a $100K car for her birthday and barking orders at the help. Ana even manages to (spoiler alert!) get herself knocked up with an entirely unwanted, inappropriately timed embryo of seriously dubious lineage (Daddy? Is that a flogger or a bull-whip?) and has the supreme gall to BLAME HER SECRETARY. Which obviously begs the larger question: why does this woman even HAVE a secretary? She’s like, 12. And as far as I can tell, she’s been to work twice. Ever.
Ana’s “sexual awakening” is absurd. (For a non-absurd portrayal of such, please read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Thank you.) She goes from virgin to self-professed (and self-impressed) Sex Goddess overnight, quite literally. All of the thrashing about and carrying on is actually quite embarrassing, as we are supposed to believe that this recent college graduate who has never even KISSED anyone other than Christian is suddenly transformed into some sort of hyper-skilled sexual savant. Oh, I could scream. And scream I shall, if I am ever forced to face any of the following Ana-isms ever again: Inner Goddess, bespectacled subconscious, “happy trail,” “down there” (seriously, folks – she’s that infantile), Little Blip (the name of her unborn, emotionally doomed offspring), “cupping my sex,” desire-induced “squirming”, exploding, finding release, pubic hair (thank GOD she shaves in Book 3 so we can stop hearing about it), moaning/groaning (cleverly alternated throughout, tricking the reader into thinking she’s got different noises in her repertoire), etc, etc, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. Also, she appears to have very aggressive, unusual nipples, which “elongate” dramatically when tugged upon or clamped. In my mind, there are two pink broken-in-half Crayons affixed to her breasts lengthwise (you’re welcome), and I feel a momentary pang of sympathy for what must be her futile efforts to conceal them in cold weather. Also impressive is Ana’s miraculous ability to have sex 47 times a day without ever contracting a UTI. Me? I’d put Ocean Spray out of business with a tenth of that action.
So yes, friends. I hate myself. Almost as much as I hate Anastasia, Christian, and EL James herself (who reeeeeaally should invest in a thesaurus. And can you arrest someone for criminally uninspired prose and/or serial repetitiveness?). And while I fear I shall never recover my dignity or self-respect after emerging from this fetid vortex of literary dysentery, I can tell you this with absolute certainty: I will TOTALLY go see the movie. Especially if they cast Ryan Gosling.