It’s been a couple weeks since my last entry, and as your resident ornery bloggess I feel compelled to clarify a few things, to report a few things, and to observe a few things about the fallout that ensued after the last post was published. Here goes.
To Clarify: Primarily, I am not angry anymore. Really. My eldest niece called me that morning with grave and darling concern in her voice. She was worried about me. “Um, Auntie? Are you OK? It’s just that your last post seemed really angry. I mean, angrier than usual even.” I assured her that while recalling the incident and recreating it in words certainly gave renewed vigor to those moments of abject rage and unthinkable betrayal, they were only moments, and they are gone now. Seriously, folks – it’s been almost a year since I found all this out. I am not still reeling. Nor am I driven by any sort of lust for vengeance. My feeling on THAT subject is simple: Go Bobbit or Go Home. I went home. To my laptop. And wrote. Well, actually I went home to my couch and stayed there in a PTSD, carbs, and Valium coma for many months before I was even able to talk about it. But then, I wrote. I did not create that post in order to hurt anyone or “expose” my ex-husband as an emotional abuser or raving lunatic – trust me, he does not need my help in doing so. I wrote it to get it out, and indeed, it was a GREAT purge. But as far as I knew, anyone reading my minor-league musings was either a friend or family member and likely already knew the story. Never did I imagine the breadth and scope of readers that would find their way to my blog that day and enter the swirling brown vortex of doom that was my marriage and its Lifetime-worthy demise.
Secondly, I am no one’s bitch, and no one’s victim. If there’s anything I AM still angry about is that I allowed this to happen. It was with my total permission that my ex-husband and his son treated me with unconscionable disrespect, lived off of me without contribution, drained my resources and turned my home into a festering pit of refuse and despair. I allowed it. Every single day that I bellowed or cried or begged or threatened but didn’t leave, I allowed it. And I asked for more. I knew what I was getting when I married them (make no mistake, potential steps – it’s a package deal); this was not a post-wedding Worst Surprise Ever. I was not tricked or duped into thinking I was getting some great deal – I knew exactly what I was in for, and for me to expect different behaviors from my former husband and his son would have been like adopting a mastodon and then being outraged because it broke my house. Of course it did. It’s a mastodon. The fault is mine. I invited the chaos into my life, drew it a hot bath, gave it the guestroom and handed over my credit card. My job, now, is to figure out why I thought it was OK for as long as I did. Why I stayed, why I thought I deserved it. Why it took an unfathomable show of treachery for me to finally leave. Why I brought home that goddamned mastodon.
To Report: What followed was an Epic Shitstorm. Lines were drawn, double-dealers exposed, martyrs and hypocrites drawn out, friendships lost and broken. I was accused of launching a vicious “attack” upon the former stepson (age 17), and in truth, I have questioned my judgement and motive for bringing him into the re-telling at all. But the fact is that he was a part of it, and not in an “innocent bystander” kind of way….this has never been a secret. My stepson was an integral part of the marriage, but more precisely, the END of the marriage. This sideshow was my life – not a day or a week or a moment. My LIFE. For years. Judging me for telling the horrible things doesn’t magically excuse or erase the horrible things. It doesn’t work that way, to the great dismay of blame-deflectors everywhere. This is my story, and I don’t feel compelled to apologize or defend myself for telling it. Everything I said was true. And plenty more that I didn’t say - that I wouldn’t.
Next: many, many more people than I realized have endured similar torment. I had no idea. I heard from several women who have been stalked, “taken”, frightened, used, bullied, deceived, some even beaten - stories much worse than mine. They are afraid or embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it, and thanked me for being impertinent enough to tell my story publicly, as if by doing so I was also telling theirs. I am OK with that, speaking the Secrets of the Douchey Exes Sisterhood. And I would please like Cameron Diaz to play me in the movie. I’ll need a breezy sidekick.
To Observe: Hits, likes, reposts and shares on that article were more than double that of my second “biggest” day in the blog-ethers. Why? What does this say? Surely, people love a train-wreck, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s partly that those who sometimes worry their lives have entered the dreaded Realm of the Mundane can dip their toes, ever-so-briefly, into the cesspool of deception and espionage and drama and dysfunction of such a tale and quickly run back to the safety of their lives and families, grateful for their certainties and permanence. People who have beachfront property at said cesspool, like me, read because we like to know we’re not alone, and that maybe someone else really does understand, and that maybe we can laugh about it together someday. Or cry, or scream, or even better – move to the suburbs.
But mostly, I think it’s because people truly care about others’ struggles (I know, very un-Misanthropista-ish…). And because we can frolic together on Facebook and play Words With Friends and meet for drinks and go to Rotary meetings and work side by side with people we truly care about, and have no idea what lies beneath. What they’re going through, where they’ve been, what they’ve survived, what they don’t tell. As for me, I am mostly glad I told. It came at a cost, to be sure, but I have to believe the gift outweighs the cost. To have told the tale is to be free of it. And that’s way better than a pet mastodon.
PS - To those who’ve deemed me cruel and inhuman for exposing this labyrinthine saga and its wily players to my tiny circle of readers, I say this: Call me when YOUR husband fashions an elaborate ploy to stalk and spy on you with a fake identity. Call me when some kid comes along and shits on YOUR lawn and on YOUR life. Call me when the betrayal finally beats you, and when everything you think you know is a lie. Then we’ll talk. In the meantime, fuck off.
So, you know how, like, you’re in this terrible marriage and you pretty much hate every miserable, goddamned moment of your wretched existence and you feel like you’ve spent forever putting up with things that no self-respecting human being would ever put up with even for a minute but you’ve put up with it for years and the whole sorry thing has left you so devoid of life or joy that you can’t even fathom people who feel those things anymore and you wake up every single morning and tell yourself that Today is The Day that you’ll leave, that you’ll just pack the car and grab the dogs and GO but you never do because something always comes up or you worry how you’ll explain it to your judgy big brother or you think, maybe – just maybe – if I tell the husband I’m leaving, he’ll be scared enough to lose me that he will pick up his Mount Fuji of crap on the closet floor or pay a goddamned bill or tell his awful child that it is not OK to shit on the lawn but he never does and still you try to stick it out and find things to make yourself happy but you realize you can’t possibly be happy when you are allowing yourself to be used financially and abused emotionally and ass-raped spiritually every single day and so you finally, finally screw up the nerve to end it only to be lured back in months later by an alleged “emotional crisis” and guilted into returning to the Pit of Despair that was your life before only this time it’s even worse because the “emotional crisis” was not so much an “emotional crisis” as a “Masterclass in Manipulation” and that guilting and shaming and ransacking of emails and phones and drive-by spying become daily occurrences and you find yourself begging for mercy and forgiveness just to make the crazy stop but it doesn’t stop and soon you realize that the crazy has actually made you sick and now you have ulcers and you’ve had three teeth crumble in your mouth from all of the grinding and clenching that you don’t even know you’re doing and you want so badly to run away (again) but you promised to try and you really are trying but the only thing that is keeping you alive aside from the fact that your pets need you is your profound Facebook friendship with the one person who seems to truly understand and make sense of the madness and talk you out of doing anything rash and who reminds you how great you thought your husband once was and how great you were together before All This and who somehow always manages to convince you that love is worth fighting for and that surely the ulcers were caused by something else entirely and that your teeth were just exploding because, well, you’re no spring chicken and if you just hang in there another day everything will be OK and you believe your friend because you feel like friends can sometimes see things you can’t and you’re sure this is one of those times and one of those friends and you carry on despite the torture and the nightmares and the fact that you are drinking a LOT more bourbon than usual which doesn’t really help the ulcers but definitely helps with the getting-through until finally, finally, one day the indignity becomes too much and despite your repeated promises to “keep trying” you just can’t anymore and you call it off again but that is not deemed acceptable by the other party who decides to stalk and torment you for the next five days while you sit holed up in your house with a very big gun just waiting for a chance to use it on this motherfucker but he is so busy calling you a cunt and a whore that he doesn’t give you the chance to shoot him, only to field the hundreds of texts and calls and emails calling you a cunt and a whore and you are so grateful to your special Facebook friend who is helping you through this yet again and you feel like you can tell him anything and that your secrets and rage and heartbreak are safe with him because you trust him implicitly and since he is the one friend who has seen you through the whole miserable affair from start to finish you know you don’t really have to explain anything and that he will understand why you had to do what you did – why you had to go, again – why you are getting off the hamster wheel and getting the fuck out of dodge and getting the fuck out of the marriage and you know your friend won’t judge you even though he does not agree with your decision because, well, that’s the kind of friend he is and when you have finally extricated yourself from the poisonous sham of a union and cut the cord that tied you to all that pain and torment and you feel exhilarated because the cancer is gone once and for all and you think nothing could possibly hurt you ever again now that you are free and everything is swell right up until the part when your special friend reveals to you that he is actually your husband pretending to be someone else and that he has spent the past year weaving this elaborate web of deception and using this fake identity to stalk you and commit emotional espionage on you and the whole time you were trying to reconcile, he looked you in the eye and lied and deceived you again and again and led two lives and kept them immaculately separate from each other and you never had a fucking clue so now you feel like the biggest asshole the world has ever made and you wonder how you could be so stupid and you are embarrassed because you were so handily duped but you are also sad because now you’ve lost the friend you trusted and you realize that your entire life has been turned upside down by duplicity and betrayal and you don’t even trust yourself to order a sandwich anymore because maybe the sandwich is pretending to be some other kind of sandwich behind your back but then you realize you sound completely fucking ridiculous and that you’re not actually fit for human company right now and maybe you’d better just take your weird imposter-sandwich and go back to bed for awhile like, say, 6ish months and never ever speak of it, because you can’t, until you can – and then you can speak of nothing else because you are so completely fucking broken by it all?
No? Oh. Me neither.
It’s Vampire Season, folks. Finally. Well, it’s ALWAYS Vampire Season if you’re me, but at this time of year, the rest of the world seems to not only tolerate my bizarre fixation, but to share it. This is fantastic news, because honestly? It’s exhausting trying to nourish a non-seasonal craving – ever tried to find a candy cane in July, when its minty-freshness would make a most refreshing treat? Exactly. This shit just doesn’t make sense. It would obviously be much easier to
seduce terminate a sexy-as-hell psychotic immortal murderer using my luscious carotid cleavage as bait during the warmer months, but this is not the hand I’ve been dealt. I have a friend with the titanium nutsack to rock a full-on cape year-round, for virtually any reason at all, and without the slightest concern for societal or seasonal raised eyebrows. He’s all, “Yes, I am wearing a cape. And?” I envy his bravado. And his collection of fine opera-wear.
This is the time of year when I can voice some of my pressing concerns about the undead without people thinking I’m any weirder than they usually think I am. Which is pretty fucking weird, but that’s beside the point. The media have, frankly, confounded me to the point where I don’t even really KNOW the proper way to dispatch a vampire anymore. There are too many choices, too many discrepancies, too many liberties being taken in the modern lore. It’s irresponsible, honestly. I mean, isn’t this *kind of* a matter of life and death? I would simply like a straight answer on a few things. Used to be, a wooden stake through the heart – and ONLY a wooden stake through the heart – would do the trick. And while this method of termination is still considered a fail-safe classic, it seems it’s not our only choice anymore. And let’s face it, who really ever HAS a pointy wooden stake on hand unless you live in Sunnydale or Transylvania or Mystic Falls? Nobody, that’s who.
Speaking of Mystic Falls, let’s check in with the sexy Salvatore Brothers for a moment. Damon is snarky, hilarious, uber-hot and makes the hands-down best Crazy Eyes I have ever seen, ever. Brother Stephan is broody, dark, romantic and deep, which totally doesn’t matter because all you can do is stare at his
ass abs. Stephan’s insider-vamp-nickname is The Ripper, due to his savage feeding style and fondness for leaving brutal carnage behind after a kill. And you’re all “Yeah, I’m totally OK with that? As long as he takes his shirt off at some point.” These teen vamps drink a lot of alcohol (in addition to blood) – from very fancy crystal decanters. I like to think it’s bourbon, because that’s totally what I would drink if I were a sexy, misunderstood vampire just trying to fit in. They also eat. Like, food. This is in direct violation of every rule we’ve ever been taught about the undead. EVERYONE KNOWS VAMPIRES DO NOT EAT. GOD!
This is where I get pissy. Because you can also kill these fuckers with wooden bullets and some botanical concoction called vervain. Is vervain even a thing (My spellcheck suggests not.)? And if it is, may I please have some so that I can
tranquilize and have my way with kill some goddamn vampires? And the sunlight thing just enrages me. The ever-growing vampire population of Mystic Falls can freely walk in daylight as long as they are wearing a magic ring made for them by the town witch. (Yep. Mystic Falls has witches. Werewolves too. I know, it’s pretty much the fucking awesomest place ever.) Sans ring, things get ugly and the usual sizzling flesh and festering face-melt ensues. The Twilight crew, as we all know, sparkles when direct sunlight is applied. Sparkles. I…can’t…let’s just move on. John Mitchell, the second-hottest-vampire-ever and his nasty undead colleagues on Being Human don’t seem to even address the sunlight issue at all, which is really inconsiderate, honestly. Because there might be *someone* out there who is earnestly trying to understand, and who feels confused by this glaring omission and cannot really even concentrate on the awesome vampires because they should NOT BE WALKING AROUND OUTSIDE.
Anyway, I’m totally just pretending to want to know how to kill vampires because that’s what a normal person should do when faced with a ravenous immortal lunatic who is trying to exsanguinate her. But clearly, I am not the only sicko out there. Women go bananas for this shit. The Cullen Crew of Forks, WA has probably saved more marriages than Oprah just by virtue of their utter bang-ability (sorry, fellas – unless you ARE one of the Cullen Crew of Forks, WA, your wife is probably not thinking about you when you’re having sex. Just FYI.). Edward, is of course, everyone’s undead It Boy, but the moment in Part 2 when he removes his shirt and exposes what can only *politely* be called a “Nipular Incongruity,” I’ve devoted my life to trying to unsee that. It’s not going well. Angel? Total babe. Michael from Lost Boys is so sexy that his 80s ‘do actually still looks good on him. Vampire Brad Pitt is just Brad Pitt with like, exponentially cracked-out hotness. Vampire Tom Cruise is….a pale, frilly fancy-man who…yeah. Never mind. Still better than regular Tom Cruise, I suppose. Finally, with no offense to all of the undead eye-candy aforementioned, ALL other vampires are merely immortal buffoons next to the inimitable Gary Oldman, who will always be my top pick for escort to the Prom of Eternal Damnation. His portrayal of the Count is flawless, heartbreaking, super-sexy and terrifying all at once – and does not leave me wondering how I would kill him, at ALL, because I am totally trying to figure out a way to get him to kill ME so I can be his Dark Lady Succubus forever. And ever. And ever. Don’t lie. You do it too.
I could go on, but I shan’t. There is, I believe, only one fitting way to end this post – and that’s with the wise, immortal words of Sam Emerson: “You’re a vampire, Michael. My own brother, a goddamn shit suckin’ vampire. You wait ’till Mom finds out, buddy.” Because she’ll totally want to sleep with you.
My fear of vomit is so well-documented that there is barely need to mention it. However, for those who are not yet aware: I don’t *do* vomit. I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to know about it. I certainly don’t want to smell it. I promise you, I will run screaming, even if the vomit only appears on a TV or movie screen. I will not hold your hair back while you do it. I will not clean it up. I will not even talk to you on the phone if you have a vomit-bug, because I will obviously catch it. It is, I am certain, my maniacal aversion to upchuck that has prevented me from becoming a dreadful, slobbering drunk or peyote-smoking berserker – such revelry results all-too often in the blowing of chunks. I have barfed exactly twice since the age of ten – both times from tunafish – and have no plans to do it again, ever. I think we’re done here.
2. Self-Checkout Lanes
Who *isn’t* afraid of these atrocious grocery Dementors? They lure you in with the promise of a quick, line-free escape and total freedom to purchase your embarrassing personal products in perfect anonymity – away from the prying eyes of unctuous checkout harpies (who totally think you’re a slut) and pimply teen clerks (who totally HOPE you’re a slut) – just to hurl you headlong under the Shame Train that only rattles by when the goddamn laser-thingy fails to scan your Yeast-B-Gone, requiring clamorous assistance from the very-same pimply teens and unctuous harpies you wanted so to avoid. You win, fuckers.
It’s the terrible little teeth and ruthless pinching places. Opening is fine – pleasant, even. Makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Click! But closing? It’s a goddamn deathtrap. Hence my lusty embrace of foul-weather - hair, suede and sequins be damned. I’d rather be sodden and woebegone than dry and bleeding out.*
*Please see All You Can Eat Crab Legs Buffet for obvious exception. If you aren’t bleeding, you’re doing it wrong.
4. Squiggly Text Tests
You know, those twisty, illegible letters on the computer that you are supposed to somehow decipher and re-type into a tiny box to prove…what? That you are a wizard with magical eyesight, obviously. Debilitating typing terror? Check. Inevitable failure to reproduce said nonsense letters? Check. Self-loathing tailspin? Check. Enjoy your revenge, you geek bastards.
5. Pull-down Ladders
High atop my list of Personal Horrors and/or Universal Abominations sit these Agents of Certain and Excruciating Demise. Rigged precisely to PLUMMET VIOLENTLY DOWN FROM DIRECTLY ABOVE YOUR HEAD, there is simply no escaping decapitation if you choose to take this death-bait. And if by some miracle you survive the pulling-down portion of the horror-show, just try pushing it up again. Let’s just say the Reaper doesn’t miss twice. If you’re OK with that, knock yourself out. Me? I’m just gonna clear some space in the garage.
6. Steely Dan
I have no explanation. All I have is this creeping dread in my soul every time I hear the awful strains of Doom’s Own Minstrels drifting though the ether. “Hey Nineteen,” in particular, inspires in me a terror akin to bobbing alone in shark infested seas with a bloody stump where my foot used to be. A million miles from shore, in the black of night, and no one’s coming for me. Actually, now that I spell it out? That sounds like a much better way to go than dying of Steely Dan.
Not the place – before you get all indignant and “New Mexicans are people, too!” on me. Trying to spell it is what scares me. My fear mounts exponentially with every failed attempt to write it properly, and inevitably I just end up putting something like “Abba-Kacky!” so it appears as though I am kicky and convivial. I am neither. I just hate that shit-sucking word – with the fire of a thousand suns, I hate it. “Eighth” is no picnic either, if I’m being honest.
8. Remote Controls*
Since when does everyone have, like, 7 remotes for one goddamned screen? And how does ANYONE figure out which goes to what gadget, and what combination of buttons and handhelds will magically find me my Vampire Diaries? And what about when you totally cock it up and everything goes black or staticky and you have no idea what you did so you have no idea how to undo it and the noise from the static is making you feel like you need to hide, or kill someone, and all you can do is cry because at this point you don’t even know how to turn it off? Then what? Huh?!
*This particular terror pretty much applies to all technology. And anything with wires. Or buttons. And what the fuck is a USB cord? Actually, don’t tell me. Whatever it is, I’m certain that I’m not prepared to handle it.
9. Skin Suits and the People Who Make Them
So yeah. When I hear the incessant, rhythmic squeaking of the swings from the playground next door I do not assume that neighborhood children are out for a joyful morning romp. I naturally ascertain that I have awakened to the Zombie End Times, and my entire town has been made into a giant flesh tuxedo by axe-wielding survivalists and that perhaps my supple hide is simply being saved for a jazzy ascot. Is that weird?
10. Too-Long Naps
Taking a nap is scary enough, obviously – I’m not doing work! I’m a ne’er-do-well! Why am I so tired? Am I dying? Ohmigod, I’m totally dying – but when it lasts longer than intended, it’s downright terrifying. Especially if you wake up and it’s DARK. Holy crap? It’s nighttime – did I sleep through my whole life? Did I just Rip Van Winkle that shit? Did I miss DINNER? Do I have to go to bed again soon? What day is it? Fuck, I am in SOOOOO much trouble. PLEASE DO NOT TELL MY MOTHER.
Please, friends, feel free to share your deepest fears with me below – it will totally make me feel superior and, I’m guessing? Relatively sane in comparison. Hit it, bitches!
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.
“Tell me do ya wanna, can you really take the drama, of a Jerseylicious girl like me? I am crazylicious, I am superlicious, I’m the Jerseylicious girl you need!”
First of all, here’s where I recommend that all other theme songs just throw in the towel – this kind of magnificence only happens once. But secondly, there’s some profundity lurking in there among the made-up words and ear-bleeding house beat. We Jersey folk are special, and we know it (and no – I’m not making air-quotes around the word “special”). I mean, how many other States have multiple reality shows devoted solely to the antics of their hair salons, beaches, bakeries, housewives, and Cosa Nostra underworld? None, I tell you. Not one. (By the way, ’tis a gross miscarriage of Nickname Justice that the best ones always go to the MTV miscreants – I refer, of course, to “The Situation:” the Rolls Royce of nicknames – especially when the best I ever did was “Laverne 2000″ after a brief mid-90s flirtation with monograms and sassy backtalk.) But I digress – we are Jerseyans. We’ve seen things. We’ve done things. We’ve smelled things. When life or love (or the law) drives us across state lines in any sort of permanent capacity, we are, many of us, lost.
I’ve lived a lot of other places in recent years, some more hospitable than others. I’ve lived where, during huntin’ season, one’s crucial accessory is not a tramp-stamp or Christian Louboutin hooker boots, but a safety-orange Elmer Fudd hat. So’s not to get shot and all. (And while we’re on the subject of Michigan, I just have to say that despite being strongly in favor of equal-opportunity-everything, I still have this nagging little feeling that giving blind people hunting licenses is in no one’s best interest. Except maybe the deer’s.) I’ve lived in places where the discovery of human shit on my property was routine, as was the occasional errant moo-cow. I’ve lived places where I’ve gone a week without seeing another human, and have had to wonder (hypothetically, of course) how much one would have to talk to one’s self before one’s talking to one’s self might cause one to be considered “bananas.” I’ve been imprisoned for days by End-Times Weather and enticed by tiny ghost-twins to come and play with them forever. And ever. And ever. I’ve lived where octogenarians are driven to assault one another over a bag of ice during hurricane season – where elbows sweat and 24-hour curfews are enforced until the “Snake Situation” is under control. I’ve lived where people routinely and without irony use words like “Dag-nammit.” I’ve had to wait in line at gas station restrooms behind bands of prairie-clad Sister Wives while their collective husband (singular) gassed up the tricked-out minivan and stocked up on canned goods. I’ve spent actual time devising plans to scare away earnest missionaries come to save my sorry soul – plans which usually involve alcohol, obscenities, and ritual virgin sacrifice…shit, maybe they’re right.
The fact is, I am quite ill-prepared to handle my Jersey Fury outside state lines. Bird flipping, high-volume profanity, and making “offers one can’t refuse” don’t seem to be effective strategies in the Lesser States. I am a veritable fish out of water almost everywhere I go (or, as I like to think of it, an anchovy out of its extra-virgin) and have little grasp on Who I Am and How To Be. I mean, at Home? There’s no call to “Forgive those who trespass against us.” One simply goes outside with one’s baseball bat and says, loudly and with gestures, “Why don’t you come up here and say that to my face, old man!” At Home, one’s Holiday Spirit is not nearly whole without gridlock, angry shoppers, and perilous parking-lot aggression. I can say with some authority that a New Jersey local has never found herself in line at a craft store on “cue-pon day,” silently begging God to kill her. At Home, it’s never more than a 5 minute drive to the Perfect Slice or some decent deli. At Home, when you need something taken care of – whether it be a simple paint job or something more, um, permanent – everyone’s Got a Guy. And everyone understands that when your friend tells you they’ve Got a Guy, you don’t ask questions. Jersey Grudges are nurtured loudly and lovingly and are almost always temporary (exception: Bad Blood. Bad Blood is forever.). At Home, Mall = Mecca.
So do you see, friends? Do you see why, in these kinder and gentler places, I find myself at sea? No matter where I go that is not Home, I am a stranger in a strange land – where slow drivers (which obviously enrage me) do not throw Slurpees out the window or make the finger-across-the-throat gesture when you give them a show of your finely honed Road Rage – they simply move out of the way or, God forbid, give a small, sincere, sorry-wave. Where people open doors and step aside and give up seats for others. I mean, what am I supposed to do with this? Blend? Myriad times I have found myself in the company of Those Less Coarse after a routine display of my Regional Inappropriateness as they titter nervously and resort to their banal choruses of “You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl…”
And to them I say, always, “Why the F*CK would you want to?”
By this time I imagine many of you are wondering HOW on earth a delightful gal like me, Misanthropista, could still be single. (That’s right. Delightful.) It’s not “still” so much as “again.” I was married once. OK, fine, twice. Whatever, judgy.
My first husband was actually a lovely, kind boy who was simply and unexpectedly in over his head. For most of the 358 days we were married, I was either in bed, the hospital, or a Vicodin haze as I began what would become a 5 year battle with Acute Lyme Disease. Poor kiddo. Sickness and health was not supposed to be NOW. He tried, he really did. He was awfully kind when he was home with me – he was just never actually home with me. While his teenage-y social life raged on like a prom-night kegger, I was at home dying. The paralysis, memory loss, and excruciating pain of my illness did not make me a Very Understanding Wife, and I started to leave in my mind long before my body could muster the strength to do it. Then 9/11 happened and as I watched my friends and loved ones disintegrate and rain from the sky on live television, it all became very clear. It took me another month to go – funerals and memorials and vigils filled the days and weeks that followed. Then, nothing. And I left.
I had only one actual relationship between husbands (the tale of Husband Number Two is an abomination unto itself, and will require alcohol and probably restraining orders to tell. But I will, I promise. Someday.), and that was supposed to be It. We were star-crossed from Moment One, and immediately began a gut-wrenching long-distance relationship which would ultimately lead us both to relocate in great dramatic fashion just to “be together.” This boy ignited my heart and stole my sleep and tangled my insides in a way that I had never felt before and certainly haven’t since. It was Love Like You Read About, and I HAD TO HAVE IT. I dropped everything, sold my beloved soul-house, left my family and friends behind and went off on my heart’s own Odyssey.
Onnnnly problem was (which took me a year to figure out), Dude was a raging porn addict with serious Mommy Issues. Eight years my junior, emotionally asphyxiated and so, so broken. But I persevered! I loved him! I would See It Through! We even looked forward to the day that he was “cured” so we could have T-shirts made up saying “I Had A Porn Addiction, But I Beat It.” (Yep, that was all me. Thank you, thank you.) But then (then!) shit got weird. The soulless dolphin-flogging escalated and he spun out of control in every direction, scattering the shrapnel of our life together and breaking everything he touched (except, well, *that.* *That* proved quite sturdy.). He ultimately left me one morning 2 years later with the following announcement: “It’s not me. It’s you. I believe that you’re not good enough for me and that I can do better.” Riiiiiiiiiiight, buddy. Good luck with that.
After a suitable period spent wallowing in his lingering emotional toxins and disinfecting all of my keyboards, I reluctantly entered the Match.com Years. I know it has its virtues, friends – I’ve seen the commercials! But for me it felt like plunging naked into a bubbling cauldron of Lies, Vanity, Snakes, and Someone Else’s Diarrhea. I did it though – I HAD to, my friends said. They wanted me to be happy. Mostly I think they saw the inherent entertainment value in my suffering, but whatevs. My crusade to find Love, Millenium Style led me through the war-torn landscape of middle-aged Starting-Overs seeking “Best Friends,” Younguns seeking MILFs, Douchebags seeking Models, Strippers Seeking Doctors, and Me, Seeking Someone Who Could Spell. It also resulted in more grainy penis-photo emails from Proud Owners than anyone should ever have to see. I suppose it’s kinda sweet that they thought that might help, yes? No? No. It may not be necessary to mention that this Romantic Jihad resulted in lots of first dates. And not one single second.
A sampling of my deviant suitors, for your enjoyment and in no particular order:
Tearful Todd, who cried at dinner and Only Ate Shrimp. Todd couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t “let him love me” and expressed concern during his shrimp appetizer that his striking resemblance to Keith Urban was hindering his search for True Love. The “ladies” only seemed to want him for his good looks, not his fathomless, dreamy soul. I explained that indeed, I was probably one of those “ladies” and left him crying in his shrimp dinner. Check, please.
Earnest Ponytail Poetry Guy wrote me a “song” on a napkin that had been smudged with some kind of gravy, and handed it to me triumphantly, explaining that my beauty had “taken him somewhere” and the words just poured out of him like holy wine. I don’t remember much about the song now except that it contained the phrase “elbow grease.” Also, it contained actual grease. From the gravy. On the napkin. Someone, please: F*cking shoot me.
Next came Joe, who offered up a quite refreshing package in comparison to most of my other one-dates. Handsome, charming, chatty, intelligent, even a little funny! Joe gave me hope that this was not my personal armageddon, after all, and I thought, hmmm – if HE asks me out again I will say yes. And ask he did – triumph! – even offering up *another* package to sweeten the deal…this one significantly less refreshing. Indeed, somehow Joe’s clammy junk ended up being thrust into my unsuspecting grip during a chaste hug-shake (you know, the awkward hug/handshake hybrid?) which has, to this very day, drastically altered my trust level when extending my hand to anyone, ever. I’ll never un-feel Joe’s Junk. Like a ghost limb…but with Junk. (“Ghost Junk” Copyright Misanthropista 2012).
For brevity’s sake, I’ll wrap things up with a list of the swains whose catchy monikers endured long past the horror of my 12-ish minutes with each of them: Pretentious Tongue-Smacking Wine Snob; Mr. Doesn’t Know He’s Gay Yet, Guy Who Asked If He Might Borrow My Car Overnight, Forgot my Wallet(s) 1-7, Stalker Stephan (pronounced Stef-ON), One-Tooth, Sir “Does The Carpet Match the Drapes?” and a gentleman known simply as “Backne.”
There were others, dear friends. Most of whom never made it to the first date due to calamitous grammar crimes or aforementioned penis jpegs. OH, yes, there were others. However, high upon the Royal Float in my parade of stunning romantic flame-outs sits a fellow who will forever be known, victoriously, to me and my trusty confidantes only as Taco Toe. Yes, he did exactly what it sounds like he did. And no, I did not see it coming. He was very limber. And had spectacular aim.
Yeah, so – that happened.