Monday, September 27, 2010

Please Excuse My Anti-Boob Pocket

My boy cousins, only a few years younger than me, recently teased me for being a horrible hugger. I was shocked. Seriously? Me?

They proceeded to demonstrate, with each other, how hugs should be given. And I won't lie. What I saw before me was perhaps the gayest and most incestuous sight to date. There was forceful slapping on the back in that masculine, "I'm a man and you're a man and there's nothing gay about this hug" kind of way. But their torsos were also velcroed close to each other. Toe-to-toe. Chest-to-chest. A squeezy kind of hug.

I'm up for a challenge, and criticism only drives me to over-achieve, so I proceeded to spend a bulk of the evening over-hugging those in the room. I vaguely remember throwing my leg over the waist of my aunt and godmother, and clinging to her like a rhesus monkey. And I was sober.

I just wanted to show that I had this hug thing down.

And what, exactly, was wrong with my hugs before this point? My cousins' critique was brutally honest, and a pretty fair and accurate assessment, if you ask me. A recreation of my entrance and exit greeting-hug showed what my family considered to be a flaw: my anti-boob pocket.

Now, this is not what they called it. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard either one of my cousins say the word "boob." This would simultaneously make me burst out laughing and creep me out tremendously. We're family. Boobs don't exist.

And to prove that point, I've somehow developed (no pun intended) the anti-boob pocket hug; hunching my shoulders over to create a concave space against which no other chest can press. In this way, I'm free to hug all types of people with zero creep-factor. Uncles. Cousins. Dad. Priests. Waiters. Gas station attendants. Homeless dudes. My boobs remain un-hugged, and that's just fine by me.

My cousins further pointed out that in addition to the anti-boob pocket of space, I also favor leaning way out to one side or another, so only my shoulder and the recipient's shoulder touch. I may lean back, look at the face, and give it a squeeze or two, but a tight-hugger, I was not.

I'd have to say this behavior started in middle school- a time when a simple greeting-hug was every 13-year-old boy's excuse for treating developing boobs like a mammogram machine. Seriously. This was great if you were being hugged by a boy you liked, but a casual "Hey, how was your weekend" hug from the creepy dude in jazz band was an unwelcome experience.

I'm not opposed to the kind of hug that is so intense and full of desire that it leaves two people doing what amounts to a tiny cha-cha just to keep their balance- such is the force of a great hug. These are the hugs that take place on a well-lit parking lot, when all of the other cars have emptied out and the huggers remain, momentarily unwilling to do what they know needs to be done: go in to their respective cars and drive home to separate places. These are the hugs that make heads spin and breath shallow. Hearts beat and lids close. Lips part and legs weaken. No anti-boob pocket necessary.

And perhaps that's what it is. It's a kind of hug that only a select few will receive from me in my lifetime. Not that a cousin or cousin's new girlfriend or uncle or mailman would want to hug me in that way. It's just that I've seemed to make a clear delineation between social and/or family hugs and romantic hugs. I so revere the romantic hug that I don't want anything like it spent on friends and family, no matter how much I may love them.

This does not apply to the gays, of course. And I'm talking about gay men. (Sorry, ladies.) Herein lies my practice of boob-smashing happy-to-see-you hugs. There's nary a gay in St. Louis that I haven't hugged with such gusto that I've probably turned them more gay. But, it's nice. And not at all creepy. In this situation, I'm safe knowing that my boobs are, to my hug recipient, no different than the heels of my feet. Only boob-ier. Which probably makes them gross. Which is good. In this case. Anyway...

Other than the gays, I've embraced (pun intented) my anti-boob pocket Christian side-hug. It says, "Hey! I'm friendly! I'm happy to see you!" in a way that seems okay with everyone but my two cousins and those they hug.  And with them, I've learned to temporarily remove my hug-guard in that over-exaggerated way that says, "Like this? THIS? Is this how you freaky people hug?" It includes leaping across the room and flinging myself in their arms. Engaging in a face-to-face Heimlich maneuver with pressed faces and back slaps so forceful that red, stinging hand prints are sure to be left. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it all the way.

No one will hug like me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Wonder-Wonder

Think back to the time when you really wondered.

I wonder what people will think of this outfit. I just bought it.
Further back.
I wonder how I'll do on this interview. Will I get the job?
I wonder what college I should go to.
I wonder if mom knows I've been smoking.
I wonder if he's cheating on me.
I wonder if he'll ever ask me out.
A bit further.
I wonder if anyone notices this big zit on my forehead.
Keep going. Really stretch back.
I wonder if Santa Claus is real.
That's it. You're getting closer.
I wonder where babies come from.
Almost there.
I wonder where hot dogs come from. Why is the sun yellow? Why does hair grow? If I eat dog food, will I get sick? How come I have freckles? If I push really hard on my belly button, will my finger come out the other side? How long do I have to dig until I reach China? Is there a Chinese boy digging into our backyard, only upside down? If I pull off all of this daddy long leg's legs, will it still move? If I pull Barbie's head off, and stick Ken's head on her body, will he look down and wonder how he got boobs?

Now you're there.

You're back at the time when the world was full of questions and possibilities. Everything existed to be wondered about. Things which didn't exist yet were meant to be imagined. The brain was active. Thinking. Figuring out. Wondering.

You used to be there.

Somehow, along the way, your questions got answered. Or annoying to others. And you learned to stop asking. Maybe you were 5. Maybe 12. Maybe 20.

If you're like me, your sense of wonder never learned to sit down and shut up. It's what causes you, in the middle of a pleasant evening out with a friend- eating ice cream and sitting outside, to suddenly ask, "Hey. Do you ever look around and think to yourself, that would be a great place to store a dead body? Or, man, if you put a dead body there, you'd get caught in no time?" Your company looks perplexed, perhaps even a bit alarmed. "I do," you admit. Then your brain switches tracks. Just a bit. "If you put a dead body in a trash bag," (your brain is wondering all things dead body now) "do you think someone would smell it?"

"I think so," your company says. Almost as if they've bit hit with a stun gun.

"Yeah....maybe," you agree. "But what about if you tie it real tight? I mean REALLY tight. With a twisty tie, or something. Or put it in another bag. Two-ply." You're really thinking about it.

Your friend has suddenly lost his desire to finish his scoop of double chocolate chip. His spoon taps slowly and nervously at the side of his glass dish. Perhaps he's wondering how to end the evening. "Pretty sure you'd still smell it."

"Maybe," you say. You're having no trouble scraping the bottom of your dish for every little bit of mint chip. You think about raising it to your mouth and licking the rest out, but are pretty sure that wouldn't be couth. You wonder if it would be possible to lick a hole through the glass, even if it took months. Years. Lifetimes.You wonder what grotesque thing this would do to your tongue and you are also suddenly grateful that your tongue is not sand-papery rough like a cat's. Although that might help you lick your way through that glass. You think about sneaking a lick to the back of your hand, just to see how rough or not rough your tongue really is, but decide against this, too.

You've learned some measure of self-control.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Get A Room!

"When Ed and I were first dating," my grandma once explained to me and my sister, "we used to make love under the street light."

You can't imagine the wailing and ear-plugging and eye-gouging that took place after hearing this statement. Burned in my mind's eye forever was the image of two old people doin' it right out in the open. Illuminated by a street light, no less.

"What!" My grandma appeared confused. Perhaps even indignant.

"Mom," my own mother interjected, "that doesn't mean the same thing to kids today that it meant back then."

"What doesn't?"

"Making love, mom."

"What?  It just means KISSING. Oh! You thought I meant SCREWING!"

Great. Now I was doubly-traumatized. Once for getting the image of my flabby old grandparents copulating in the middle of the street, and another for hearing Grandma say the word "screwing."

Of one thing I was positively certain: Old people and anything remotely having to do with sex should never mix. Ever.

Learning about the mechanics of sex was not so upsetting as a kid. My mom took out a piece of scratch paper and proceeded to draw a coloring-book style uterus and set of fallopian tubes with little wiggly fingers at the end. She explained that each egg was so small, so small, that they'd fit on the tip of a pencil. With this, she flipped the pencil over to let me inspect the pointed bit of lead, now covered in imaginary eggs. I remember a pretty impressive sperm drawing, as well, but have either blacked out the part about mom explaining how exactly the sperm and eggs got in the same party house together, or these details were glossed over. I can't recall.

Either way, it was some time before it became clear to me. Once it did, I was absolutely certain, POSITIVE, in fact, that my parents never did "that stuff." Totally gross. Still is.

As a teenager, I witnessed a 30-something popular local television news reporter leaning up against the side of a building in the Loop, vigorously making out with another 30-something person. I was appalled. Yelling "Get a room!" was my only defense against dropping to the ground in piles of my own vomit. These people were old. Embarrassing. Twisting their heads back and forth in some kind of soul-sucking freak show. His hand was on her leg. Ew. I could see her leg. Get a room.

Here's the deal. Somehow along the way, I became that 30-something person who teens would be mortified to see kissing on the street. And it's not just that I'm a teacher, and knowing that teachers do things like grocery shop, go swimming, see movies, and, God forbid, ever kiss someone is more than emotionally scarring to any student. It's that I now belong in that group that should never, ever, ever be seen kissing in public. "Making love", 1930s-style, if you will.

This morning, I was talking to a student about going to hear an author speak last night. (Ellen Hopkins. It was fabulous.) Anyway, the author, who is a woman in her 50s, writes pretty edgy young adult books, and revealed that she's currently working on an adult title- one which dives into the darker side of parenthood and middle age. Drug use. Affairs. Nervous breakdowns. Identity problems.

"Gross," the students says. "It's gross to think of adults having any of those problems. It's okay to read about that stuff when it's talking about teens, but...gross."

I got it. No worries. That kind of book wouldn't appeal to a 13-year-old girl, nor should it, probably. But, then she continued. "In fact, no offense, Ms. Maret, but people over 21 should NOT make out. Ever."

People over 21, she said. Should not make out. Ever.

"What about if it's not your parents?" I asked, for some clarification.

"Nope. No way. Gross."

"Like, just some random girl and guy who happen to be over 21? Not okay?"


Now, here's another deal: I'd be just as traumatized to be in the middle of some parking lot smooch just to open one eye and see a teenager that I knew. In fact, I'm pretty certain I'd drop to the ground and army-crawl to the nearest vehicle, then lodge myself under there until the coast was clear. I'd change my name and my hair color, quit my job, and move far, far away with little to no explanation. I no more want to see you in the same vicinity of even a mere embrace than you want to see me. You won't ever see it.

And in that case, you can keep on thinking that kissing never happens. I know it doesn't with my parents. Ew.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Girls And Their Dumb Break-Up Crying

Ryan asks: "How much moping is acceptable on part of the dumper in a breakup? Having recently been dropped, I find I am doing better than she is. What is she crying about?"

I can give several reasons why this girl, having been the one to dump you, is now bawling about town like some kind of weepy mess. While I can't pinpoint the exact reason without knowing the girl personally, I believe you will find that one of the following categories will answer your question.

1. She's hoping to get a pity date from "that other guy." You know, the one you suspected she had a crush on all along while the two of you were together. Here's what you can do in this case. Go find the guy and rough him up a bit. I mean to say kick him in the junk and scratch his face all up. Take a photo of him balled up on the ground and post it on facebook, tagging your ex in the corner of the photo. No. Scratch that. Tag her name right on his junk. She should never have been making eyes at someone else while you were dating. Good riddance, I say.

Anyway, tag her in the photo, and make the caption say something like, "Here's what I did to the douchebag that my ex-girlfriend wants to date. Because I'm a man. And he's a douchebag." Then.....wait. Wait for her response. If she seems unmoved, you've made a mistake in judgement, which is corrected by a simple facebook apology to the guy. If she's all wailing and "HOW COULD YOU"-ing, then you were right. She really likes this guy and she's crying about the breakup with you in hopes that this guy will come over and comfort her. Either way, you come out looking like a stud.

2. She's premenstrual. It is possible that you are misinterpreting her tears. This can be cleared up by sending her a simple text message like so: "r u pms-ing? u sure r crying like a bby. lol." You will find her response to be swift and indicative of her menstrual situation. If she responds in anger, take refuge in your basement, or preferably the basement of a friend. The ability to lock yourself in there with several days of food and water would be ideal. It is also possible that she will be so moved by your understanding of the female mood swing that she will instantly want you back. If you truly miss her, say "yes" and bask in your cleverness. If not, decline her offer. Even better, say "yes" and then break up with her immediately after. Now who's the dumper and who's the dumpee? Huh? Huh?! Yeah, I thought so.

Now let's address the moping. How much moping is acceptable if you are the one breaking up with a person? Let's look at it this way. Have you ever seen someone at Starbucks go up to the counter and order a latte? Then, have you ever seen the person sit down, sip on their latte for some time, then get up to throw the cup away? After they've enjoyed their drink, have you seen them fall to the ground in grief, wailing about and pulling at their hair saying, "Why? WHY? Why did I order that latte? OH THE HUMANITY!" No. No, you haven't. Because that person woke up, decided they wanted a latte, went to Starbucks, ordered one, and drank it. Story's over. So should it be with the dumper. Your lady woke up, decided she wanted to break up, called you up, and did it. A breakup was ordered. A breakup was given. Done.

Don't let people tell you that she has feelings, too- that it's normal to experience grief when breaking up, whether you're the dumper or the dumpee. These people are weaklings who probably say things like "You are a good person and worth being loved" when they stare at their own image in the mirror each morning. These people are also habitual huggers. Huggers and grievers. Blech.

I'm happy to see that you've taken the high road of no feelings of grief of any kind. In fact, each time you see your ex, you should really make a point to show her how well you're doing. Smile a little wider. Laugh a little louder. Don't leave the house without making sure you have on a really saucy outfit. Pat another gal's butt as she walks by. But only if your ex is around. Give this gal a gun point with the fingers of your right hand while simultaneously winking and making a clicking noise in a kind of a "Hey, I'm the man and I know it" kind of way. Then look over and your ex-girlfriend with a smug look that says, "See how studly and happy I am without you?" 

I hope this has been helpful.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crushes and Such

The giant eyes. The stylish red scarf. The upturned collar. The fancy gloves and the fast car. The fact that he was a demon on wheels who would be chasin' after someone. I wanted that someone to be me.

My first crush was on Speed Racer. It didn't matter to me that he was technically a cartoon character. The fact that his lips were merely two-dimensional didn't bother me a bit. Kissing was gross and boys still had cooties, but something about Speed made my knobby 5-year-old knees go weak and my little heart pitter-patter beneath my Garanimals. Speed was my first love. Distant. Unobtainable. Probably gay. Seemed right to me.

Then love became...exciting and new. And I went overboard for Gopher on "The Love Boat." Look at that image. Put some floppy ears and waxy black nose on that guy, a 1-800 number for the Humane Society below his bow tie, and you'd be sending in a donation before reading the rest of this paragraph. Gopher was everybody's buddy, but no one's lover. The sad and dejected one. The one that needed someone to take care of him. At 10 years-old, I was pretty sure that someone should be me.

That was until El DeBarge (pictured wearing a yellow bandanna) gave me instructions, in a falsetto voice, to love him in a special way. (What more could he say? He told me to love him now!) My friend Heather and I would play her DeBarge record over and over again, listening intently to the lyrics that El wrote just for us, no doubt. I was able to look past his pencil-thin mustache and dripping jheri curl. He oozed 1980s confidence and sex appeal, and that appealed to me just fine. Soon, though, I'd see that El DeBarge was lacking. I'd dump him in no time for a little girly-clothed dude who seemed in favor of humping the air, his microphone, his guitar, and (as I was starting to get how things worked) hopefully me.

Again, overlooking the pencil-thin mustache (what the hell was up with those?) I became feverishly obsessed with Prince. Pictures were torn from magazines and taped on my walls. Buttons were pinned to my jean jacket. Album covers were studied for hours on end, my fingers tracing his nearly life-like miniature frame. Prince was the first crush to take a run on my mental gerbil wheel and stay there for days on end. Sorry, I can't come out to play. I'm thinking about Prince. What was that you said? I wasn't listening. I was thinking about Prince. Is Prince part of this science unit? If not, than I don't want to study it. I only want to learn about Prince. Prince. Prince. Prince. Prince. The dot above the letter "i" in his name could be made into a perfect heart, one which expressed my undying love and devotion. I did have some difficulty in imagining my married name, since he only had one name to spare. Bridget Prince? Didn't seem right. Could he have my last name? Prince Hengen? Seemed like discarded German royalty. Screw it. I could just love being his wife.

Or Billy Idol's. Or Michael Jackson's. Or River Phoenix's. My crushes started to multiply in numbers and before long, my gerbil wheel was so full and active that I barely had room left in my brain for simple self-care. Teeth brushing seemed nearly impossible as it required multiple steps that were not about planning the wedding of me and Adam Ant. Or Matt Dillon.

Before long, my crushes extended to real live people sitting one or two desks over from the classroom. How could I be expected to learn to balance a checkbook with Geoff Merker and his starchy white shirt two rows over? Or Tim Kelly and his converse hi-tops in the next pod? I couldn't possibly concentrate on French with Neal Caine parlez-ing Francias in my ear or with Keith Florez's pinkie bumping into mine in the middle of a science lab. The world was electrified by boys and they were everywhere.

Fast forward 25 or so years. My home has tasteful pieces of art hanging from the walls instead of photos torn from Teen Beat magazine. My classroom has posters about vocabulary and the love of reading instead of one of Adam Ant, the ink bleeding below the surface from too much contact with the oil in my kissing stick. Hanging on the back of my door, however is a "READ" poster depicting a flirty Ewan McGregor holding a copy of "The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter." I joke in class that it's hard for me to teach sometimes with Ewan over there on the door, obviously making the google eyes at me. "Stop it, Ewan!" I'll say. "I'm in the middle of a lesson here! Oh, you are too much!" The boys in the room appear confused. Unsure. Even a little uncomfortable. The girls, however, giggle and eye each other. They have no idea who Ewan McGregor is, and I know this. I also know that at home on their walls are torn pictures of Justin Bieber, half-clothed Twilight dudes, and other fresh-faced teen idols who I couldn't name if my life depended on it.

She gets us, they think. She really gets us.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cry, Baby, Cry!

Bridget H. asks: "When is it okay to cry at work?"   

A: It's always okay to cry at work. Always. Do you hear me? DO YOU HEAR ME?! LOOK AT ME WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU! LOOOOK AT MEEEEEE!!!!!!!

That was a test.

You should have teared up a little there in the middle, quivered your lip when reading the bold letters, and have a full-blown sob coming up at the end. If not, you're stuffing your feelings too much, which will do nothing but give you a bad case of IBS, or at least, a sour stomach.

Look, bosses like to feel powerful. And one of the ways they can feel powerful is by making their employees cry. Why not toss them a bone every once in a while and break down in tears at the slightest criticism? When your boss says, "Bridget, next time you file these, I'd like it for you to put them in alphabetical order," you can begin stuttering like this: "But! Bu-bu-but....I....." and then double over while wailing. You may wish to get the point across by army-crawling under your boss's desk and remaining there until lunch time, rocking in a little ball and repeating, "WHY didn't I think to file alphabetically? WHHHHHYYYYY?"

You will get a raise. Trust me.

Don't limit your crying to encounters with upper management. Cry in the break room. The bathroom stall. While waving your hands under the automatic dryer. While pouring coffee. You'll be a pioneer and will soon be elected to head some kind of committee that meets while normal people go home and have lives. Say, every other Friday at 5:45 p.m. You can cry about this, too.

Tears of frustration should flow freely at work. Perhaps you go to hang the phone on the cradle and miss it my just an inch or so. Enough that you have to battle with it for a couple of seconds, making that infuriating plastic crashing against plastic sound. Here you can do a brief cry initiated by some outburst of cursing. "GODDAMN PHONE!  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!" Same goes for a stapler jam or struggling to get your straw into your iced latte lid. 

If your brief outburst leads into a longer crying session, let it take you there. Slide out of your rolly chair to the floor. Let your legs flail out in front of you and turn your palms up towards the asbestos ceiling tiles. Stay this way until lunch. If no one brings you something to eat, cry about that. 
"Where is my mommy?"

When you get to work, it's okay to be weepy about the fact that you left your cats at home. They're probably super lonely without you and I'll bet they spend the entirety of your absence moaning and searching the house for you. They think you've abandoned them, because they're cats. And they're dumb. Every time you leave to go to work, it's pure emotional torture for them, and you're scarring them in a way that is almost certainly irreversible. But, what can you do? You must earn money to buy your kitties some food. This is horrible. Cry.  I SAID CRY!

When you leave work for the day, it's okay to cry then, too. Think about it. These people are like your family, and you may never see them again. One of them could die on the way home, or decide in the middle of the night to quit and never return. Look around at their faces. Their sweet, sweet working faces. Aren't you going to miss them? Yes. Yes, you are. Go ahead. Let yourself cry.

I hope I've covered everything. If not, you know what to do.

"Cry Baby" writes: "Just today I burst into tears in a meeting. Next time this happens, as it surely will, what should I do? Also, what is the proper etiquette for the other people in the meeting?"

A: I imagine you found some answers in my response to Bridget's question, Cry Baby. I will, however, give some additional advice on how to handle yourself, as well as what to if you are the observer, not the crier. 


If you happen to break down during a meeting (and I'm going to assume this was a work meeting, not one of those "let us love you until you learn to love yourself" meetings where at any given time, half of the attendees are sobbing)- Anyway, next time this happens, let the tears flow. If you worry that your sadness will change the tone of an otherwise upbeat meeting, try making laughing sounds while you're sobbing. This will confuse everyone at first, but will eventually cause them to join in your laughter. No one will be quite sure what anyone else is laughing about, but it will be much better than talking about feelings. That's for sure.


You can always pass your tears off as tears of pain, caused unknowingly by the coworker on your left or right. Dump his or her mug of scalding hot coffee on your hand, jump up and away from the table, and shout, "It's okay! It's okay! I'm okay! He/She didn't mean to do it!" and then let your original tears flow. You'll get pity, which always feels good, and the coffee drinking schmuck will owe you. Perhaps you could even get a free lunch out of it. Hey, that's nothing to cry about!


Now, let's suppose you're the one observing someone crying at work. A quick assessment of your feelings towards the person prior to their sobbing is in order.


If you've been aware of an attraction to this person, use this opportunity to fly across the room, jump into their arms, grab them by the back of the head, and go to town kissing them. This may or may not have the desired results, but it's worth a try.


If you have some long-standing jealousy towards this person, try pointing and laughing while shouting, "Look who's the top-selling agent now! It's Cryer Mc-Sobby-puss! Go out there and sell some more, Blubber McSob-kins! Hahaha!"  Her old friends will be your new ones, and you'll rise to the top of the pack by lunch hour. Trust me.


If you have genuine concern for the person, consider that you're not in the right line of work. 


Hope this helps.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Melons, Airplane Bathrooms, and People You Hate

Ian M. sent in the following question: "When you are eating a halved melon at a formal gathering, do you use a fork or a spoon? Do you just dig your face in?"

A: First of all, I'm not sure who would ever want to eat a halved melon. The green ones are always crunchy in a weird we-should-not-be-eating-these-things kind of way, and the orange ones make the roof of my mouth burn. Even when that tiny little ice cream melon scooper is used to make little melon balls, I can't eat them because (1) they're called "melon balls" and (2) I'm resentful that someone is trying to pass off nasty-ass melon as ice cream. 

With that said, if you're some kind of melon-lovin' freak, I say, dig your face right in. It's times like these that the phrase, "Whatchu lookin' at, bitches?" was made for. Dig in like you're searching for some kind of buried treasure at the bottom. Scrape your hands across the surface of the white pressed table cloth like a dog on a chain who's kept back from something it wants to attack. Make audible chomping and slurping sounds, ones which will cause great discomfort to your dining fellows. Do not hold back.

When you come up for air, melon bits falling from your mouth, juice dripping from your lashes, scrunch your brows down in disgust and yell, "Whatchu lookin' at, bitches? Ain't no one around here never seen someone eat a melon before? Fuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh." Then, go back about your business. You may even teach them a thing or two.

Bon appetit!

 Luke A. asks: "What is the maximum time someone should spend in an airplane bathroom?"

A: Maximum time in an airplane bathroom should not extend beyond 3 minutes. No brushing your teeth in there, putting on makeup, shaving your chin whiskers, popping pimples, having a big old Sunday afternoon poop, looking at dirty magazines, shooting heroin, taking a pregnancy test, hooking up with a sleazy traveling salesman who three minutes before asked if you were a member of the "mile-high club" while bobbing his furry worm-like eyebrows up and down and eying your plunging neckline, no painting your nails, washing your pits, changing your clothes, making a private phone call, writing your vows, kneeling in prayer, or even flossing your teeth.

Get in, do your bathroom business, wash your hands quickly, and get out. Period.

Don't be saving up any kind of poop business for flight, either. That shit should be taken care of preferably at home, but certainly before boarding the plane.

If you can hold everything for the entire flight, do so. Try it. You'll be surprised at how long you can hold it if you really try. Don't drink any liquids while flying, as what goes in must come out.

If someone gets up to use the bathroom and is in there for a ridiculously long time, be sure to judge them and give them looks of undeniable scorn as they make their way back to their seat. Perhaps turn to those around you and say, "Can you believe that asshole? Spending 15 minutes in the airplane bathroom? What a douche." This will deter others from doing the same.

Lastly, if you get caught in there with some bad case of diarrhea or some such thing, slide a little note under the door that says, "Sorry. Bad case of diarrhea. Not planned." This will inform other passengers of the reason you're in there so long. You can't plan diarrhea. This also means you'll need to keep a little golf pencil and a piece of paper on you when flying. This may be safely stored in your sock, if you're wearing socks, or tucked discreetly in your brassiere. Do not place these things in your underwear band. That's gross.

Happy and safe travels to you!

Amy H. wonders: "While in Starbucks, if you see someone you dislike, should you or should you not greet them? This was assuming they've already seen you."

A: I say don't greet anyone at all, whether you like them or not. This takes care of the issue at hand. Do so by taking sudden interest in the hem of your shirt or a spot on the back of your arm. You can also place your cell phone to your ear and feign an intense, not-to-be-interrupted conversation. Looking really agitated and pissed for no particular reason sometimes keeps others from making an unwanted social greeting and chit chat.

Perhaps you can make a real call, and in a stage whisper, say "'s me. Remember that asshole dad from parent teacher night? Yeah, he's here at Starbucks. What an ass. I can't believe I ran into him. I'm just going to look the other direction..." And then make a big show about turning around and facing the wall. That's like an acknowledgment and avoidance all in one. 

If you're working on being upfront and honest in your daily interactions, you may want to greet the person in the following way: "Heyyyyyy! It's you! I was just on the phone with my sister talking about what a douche you are. How's your wife? I can't believe she ever married you. Must have been slim pickin's where she was. I'd ask how you are, but I don't really care, seeing as I think you're an asshole and all. Well, I'll be off now!" I think you'll find people will appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness.

Finally, if you're at Starbucks, please get me a grande, non-fat, one splenda, vanilla latte. 


Friday, September 10, 2010

Maret Talks Etiquette, Pt. II

Jennifer M. asks: "if you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, can you pick your friend's nose?"

Only when you're both riding in a vehicle, where it's been proven that no one can see you do it. And by "do it" I mean nose-picking.

Tim K. poses the question: "Is it better to cancel a planned Quran burning before or after it gets completely out of hand?"

Not sure, Tim. That's a great question. Perhaps what I'll do is stage a Justin Bieber poster burning outside of a local mall and do a quick study of how long it takes for things to get out of hand. My guess? Not long. In which case, "before" is the better answer.

Or, having probably never actually seen the Quran, it might be possible for us to mail several copies of 100% Official Justin Bieber First Step 2 Forever: My Story to Mr. Terry Jones, and if the good Lord sees fit, he'll burn those up in a firey blaze.

Gabrielle "G-Dawg" L. asks: "What is the proper etiquette for before, after, and during a fight with either a ninja or a pirate?

I'm going to go pirate, since it appears I have a choice in my response. 


1. Shower, shave, and wear something skanky. At the very least, the pirate's fighting skills will be weakened by your good smell and your revealing clothing. At best, the two of you might actually hook up. This is a wanted scenario if your pirate is of the Johnny Depp variety.

2. Tell everyone that you're off to fight a pirate, and when they say, "Nuh-uh!" you can say, "I am so!" This does nothing much for the preparation of the fight, but will give you great delight when you return with proof. 

3. Search for pictures of pirates on the web. You don't want to leave the house and accidentally fight the wrong person.  If you find a man with bad teeth, a maniacal grin, earrings, a beard, and an eye patch, you may just happen to be in a B-list gay bar in England. These are not pirates. Don't be fooled. Print and use the pictures provided here as your guide.

4. Pack heat. (See point #2 below.)

1. Pirates are very sensitive and not that smart, so begin by pointing out their flaws. Comments like the following will begin the process of utter and incomprehensible demoralization: "Hey, could you give me a hand with th- Oh.....wait.....I'm sorry." And "I don't have all day for this fight! Shake a leg....Oh....wait....I'm sorry." Or "I'll be right back. Could you keep an eye on my things.....Oh.....wait....I'm sorry." Simply laughing and pointing at his hat might work, too. (Again, if you pirate is Johnny Depp, do your best to overlook the one hand, one leg, one eye thing. You can do it.)

2. Assuming your pirate's not Johnny Depp, don't fart around with knives and swords and all that old-timey bullshit. You live in the 21st century, dammit, and it's clear that God wants us to be able to have the advantage over pirates or he wouldn't have given us the smarts to make semi-automatic weapons. Pull out that AK-47 and let 'er rip. Don't worry. Upon impact, the pirate will explode with spectacular force and gold coins will rain down from where his body parts flew. And you will be rich! Rich, I say!

1. If your pirate was Johnny Depp and you've spent the whole fight time making out instead of actually fighting, try to get his phone number. Use it right away with your cell phone to make sure he's not lying to you. Asshole.

2. Otherwise, collect all of the gold that fell from the explosion of the pirate. If you had any kind of lookout person or backup fighter, make sure to pay him or her, but not too much. A couple of gold coins will do. Perhaps stash a few chocolate ones in your pocket and pass these out, instead. Especially if you had children help you. They won't know the difference.

3. If you're still all whored-up and aren't covered in too much blood, check the time. It still might be early enough for you to hit the clubs. Drinks are on you!

Luke A. writes in: "So, I've developed a strong interest in formal dressing. Is it inappropriate to wear formal, or even evening dress at a semi-formal event?

First, I want to thank you for sending in a photo along with your question. It gives me a good idea of what we're talking about here.

Rest assured that there is nothing in the universe you can't do wearing that spectacular formal gown, and look hot while doing it. But be prepared. There are a lot of haters in the world, and jealous bitches will be giving you the squinty eye as you flit about their men. Keep going with confidence, dear Luke, and know that it takes a lot of courage to bring this type of formality to any social occassion.  

In my opinion, you are pret-à-porter!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Maret Talks Etiquette

Drew H. writes: "i don't like the traditional idea of respect. formalities and etiquette are stupid more often than not. now for my question: why am i choosing an un-expecting innocent citizen of facebook to dump my rage onto? i'll leave such judgements to you."

Because he's an asshole. (or) Because she's a bitch. Or whore. Or whatever you young people call each other these days. Look, you're a teenager, and as such, everyone is wide-open to your rage dumps. If you didn't character assassinate someone on facebook, you'd be driving around in a beat up Chevy, smokin' dope and knocking people's mailboxes down with a baseball bat. You can't help it. Your brain is wired to manipulate, over-dramatize, sink into despair, judge and criticize, and hump things. In about 20 years, you can look back on your facebook posts and think about making amends. In the meantime, carry on.

Bob D. sent in this question: "When is it appropriate to have road rage?"

After you start going to Al-Anon, the answer is: NEVER. Al-Anon is a total road rage buzz-kill, as are many other recovery programs. So, first of all, if you're not already in some 12-step program, keep it that way. Keep on drinking, or spending, or binging and purging, or drugging, or exercising, or sexing, or getting all up in your alcoholic spouse's business, or whatever addictive behavior you might have going on. Because that will really make your road rage episodes extra-special. 

Now, assuming you haven't been warped into thinking you should just accept and pray for people who are really pissing you off on the roadways, I say let everyone have it. The lesser the offense, the stronger your reaction should be, just to keep everyone on their toes. Guy in front of you doesn't use his blinker? Tap his ass with your car. If he doesn't see the err of his ways and correct it immediately, tap his ass again. He's an idiot and needs further coaching. Honking your horn, giving him the finger, yelling "YOU FUCKING IDIOT!" and tapping his ass at the same time should get you the desired results. You may need to take his pets away that same night. When he's sleeping.

Nuns, elderly people, and those with physical impairments should not be excused from your wrath. How else will they learn to merge properly? You may find that it's necessary to follow these people home and wait for them to exit the car for a stern talking to. A good, old-fashioned, 1940s movie open hand face slap works wonders to accentuate your main points. Don't back down if they cry. This is just a ploy for attention. Bad drivers love attention. 

Keep a list of things other drivers do that piss you off: leaving the blinker on, driving too fast, driving too slow, letting someone in ahead of them, not giving you the courtesy wave when you show good will, slowing down at a yellow light and causing you to miss it, sitting up to high, sitting too low, swerving, and on and on. This list should be read nightly and again in the morning to fuel your rage. By the time you leave for work, your nerves should be raw and ready to be plucked. 

I obviously have a lot to say on this subject, but as you can see, others are in need of my help. Good luck to you, my friend. HONK! HONK!

Teddy K. writes: "Is it ever okay to eat someone's head? What if it falls off? Then can you eat it?"

1. If this is some kind of trick to get me to write something dirty, it's not going to happen.  I'm assuming you mean this: 

...only you are the camel. In that case, then, yes. It is sometimes okay to eat someone's head. See how the camel is relaxed and confident that his one bottom tooth will be sufficient enough to chew through this man's skull and chomp on his brain parts? That tells me that the head acts tough and all, but if it were ever really cornered and eaten, it would turn into something more cream of wheat-ish and less solid quartz-ish. It's just that no one's ever really tried. With live people heads, I mean.

Also, notice how the man, while his brows are scrunched a little, seems to be totally okay with having his head eaten. He is only squinting because of the hot, hot desert sun. This is a fact. So, again, both parties win. Eat the head.

If the head falls off, eating it would depend on how dirty and/or decomposed it became. You wouldn't chug spoiled and chunky milk, now, would you? No. Because that's gross. So, make sure the head is fresh. Give it the same three-second rule that you'd give a slice of pizza or tater tot that's fallen to the ground. It's usually nothing a little rub on the pants leg can't clean up.

I hope that answers your question. Bon appetit!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Real Talk.

I have the mouth of a sailor. I always have. I can't seem to help myself, although I use great restraint when in front of a class of middle school students, when talking to the superintendent, and generally when speaking with anyone who gets their hair "set" instead of washed. I believe I can break my cursing down into several distinct categories. 

Category 1: Words I Grew Up With and Use Today
When my sister Amy was about 3-years-old, our grandmother, a known curser, was showing her a picture book. As many adults do, my grandma would ask, "And what do you think is happening here, Amy?" or "What do you think will happen next?" When they got to a page showing a little girl spilling her milk, my grandma asked, "What do you think the girl is saying here, Amy?" My sister, drawing from the bank of language she had heard my grandma use, replied, "SON OF A BITCH! I SPILLED MY MILK!"  I, myself, had heard "soooooon of a bitch!" from my otherwise super-sweet, stereotypical-looking grandma plenty of times. She would draw it out in a high-pitch squawk, almost like she was calling it out of the audience on "The Price is Right." I'd use her phrase later in life, but shorten it to a more Holden Caufield-esque "sunuva bitch."

Grandma's not the only one to give me my early lessons on the art of cursing. As a kid, I remember standing in the doorway of my dad's workroom and watching him fly about at a frantic pace. On any given weekend in the 1970s, he could be seen down there, adding to the contraption in the backyard that was once a bird feeder. Dad aspired to make his bird feeder impenetrable to squirrels, a task which required a lot of wire mesh, tin cut in various shapes, greased poles, and a lot of cursing. It was here I learned the rapid fire "dammit!" and the f-bomb, said so quickly, that it might as well have been "fuh." I filed both away for future use. 

Category 2: Necessary Descriptors 
Some things aren't just funny. They're f****** hilarious. There's a difference, and I find it my duty to differentiate between the two with clear and precise language.  Keep in mind, many things which are f****** hilarious happen throughout the school day, and they must temporarily be downgraded to a category really funny or occasionally the edgier so flippin' funny.  But when retelling stories back home, I'm sure to use the right description.

In the same way, some things are classified as nasty shit, and no other words would do these things justice. Certain foods, such as olives or blue cheese qualify as nasty shit. I once had a paper turned in by a student and found two pages stuck together by a booger. That was some nasty shit. I've woken up to a floor littered with putrid smelling dog-diarrhea. This is also nasty shit. I think you get the point. One level down from nasty shit is nasty-ass, an adjective used by a former assistant principle to describe the potato salad she was made to serve up each year at our back-to-school district gathering. "I hate that nasty-ass potato salad!" she'd say.  I, for one, didn't think it was that bad.

Category 3: Upping the Ante: Threatening Gangsta-like Cursing (Mostly done at home and directed towards inanimate objects or my pet)
This type of aggressive cursing seemed to really take mutha-f*****' flight after watching what I consider to be one of the best music videos ever made: R. Kelly's "Real Talk." In the video, Mr. Kelly makes a passionate phone call to a lady who's done him wrong. He begins by stating, "I decided to do this shit...uh...real talk...on youtube because...I think it's a great song, you know what I'm sayin' even though there's a lot of profanity in it, but, profanity represents just how real shit gets when you arguing witch you girl and know what I'm sayin' I did it on youtube...but Imma do this shit for ya'll on youtube." I think that's pretty clear.

And it's clear to the recipient of his call, no doubt. In a lovely, soulful voice which could just as well be singing a gospel hymn of some sort, R. Kelly sings, "I been witchu five years and you listenin' to yo muthaf***** girlfriend. I don't know why you f*** with them old jealous no-man havin' ass hoes anyway! Real talk." The "real talk" seems to function as both an admission of telling the blatant truth as well as a disclaimer for the foul language. 

I've found that after watching the video, it's nearly impossible not to sing-song the most vile string of curse words followed by a subtle "real talk." Really. It's nearly impossible. I dare you to watch it.

I reserve real talk for adults who have already viewed the video and for when I'm in the privacy of my own home. Having cereal: "Yeah! Gonna put some milk on these bitches! Real talk. " Drying my hair: "Do you think you could mutha-f***** dry? Do you think you could mutha-f***** dry? Real talk. " Feeding my dog: "Why you lookin' at me like some no-food-havin' ass hungry ho? Real talk."

(Note to my mother: Mom, don't watch this video. If you thought "Three's Company" was degrading to women, this will send you over the edge. Then there's my other concern- that you'll find it as hilarious and catchy as I did, and end up using a little "real talk" in your work as a hospice care provider: "Did I say you could muthaf*****' die? DID I SAY YOU COULD MUTHAF*****' DIE?! Real talk.")

I try to keep it under wraps. I'm nearly a muthaf*****' angel on the job. Really. You'd be proud. But, do know that if I happen to drop an f-bomb or lovingly refer to you and your family as "bitches," I'm doing the best I muthaf*****' can with what I've been given. Real talk.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

"Oooh! You have got to meet my friend's cousin's neighbor's ex-lawn guy. He's the sweetest guy."

"You should start going to the noon meeting at the Clayton library. All the hot guys go there."

"I know you may not be ready right now....buuuuuuut, when you arrrrrrre, I have the perrrrrrrfect guy for you!"

People seem more uneasy with my alone-ness than I do.  It would be one thing if I spent my days curled in a little ball under the kitchen table yelling out, "Whyyyyyyy? Why, God, whyyyy?" But, I'm a fully-functional, wholly-happy, want-for-nothing kind of gal. In fact, I keep my flirter under wraps.  I don't scan the line at Starbucks for the good looking guys and then check out their ring fingers. I don't use time spent stopped at red lights to eyeball the car on the left. Or the right. I didn't pull out those mini skirts from the 1990s (assuming they'd still fit) and decide to take my stuff on the road. I don't go to bars. I don't go to clubs. I don't whore up my hair and pad my bra.

I'm no black widow, looking to reel in some unsuspecting man and chomp his head off.

I'm thirty-seven. I don't have kids. I live alone. And that's okay with me right now.

Don't feel sorry for me.  Don't scan the room for me.  Here's what you don't see in my alone-ness.

You don't see me dancing through the house at 6:15 a.m., beat-thumping songs blaring from my tiny radio speakers. You don't see me stopping in the middle of washing my Starbucks travel mug to suddenly turn and face the dog, showing her my break dancing moves. You don't see me sitting on the sofa before bed, journal open, writing everything I can think to be grateful for that day. Or on my knees, by the side of the bed, checking in with my homie, God. You don't hear me rapping "take-em, take-em, take these mutha-f*@&*n' defects! take-em, take-em, take these mutha-f*@&*n' defects!" and picturing God laughing till he gets a belly ache. You don't see me shaking hands, it works when you work it, and hugging friend after friend after friend. I pity the establishment that will try to hold my funeral. I am incredibly loved.

You don't see in my head, when I ache to be held, and get to snuggle up to this gay friend or that gay friend, knowing he's no more turned on that if his arms were wrapped around a tree.

You don't see me walking my dog on a beautiful clear night when I decide to lay down in the middle of the park just because I can and no one's looking. Or twirl enough to make my skirt flare out. Or raise my face to the moon and close my eyes, letting the shadows beneath my lids guide my way.

You don't see me at a restaurant alone, watching people tv. Watching couples on first dates. Watching couples arguing. Watching business men talking charts and percentages and nonsense. You don't see me playing with my food, scraping faces into the tamarind sauce left on my plate after all of the rice pulao is gone.

You don't see me stumbling across a photo, here we are, smiling. In love. Eyes bright and skin tanned. You don't see me feel the loss and still know we're doing the right thing.

You don't see me right now, sitting outside on a patio on what very well may be the most beautiful day imaginable. I'm taking it all in. Little pink flowers on twiggy bushes that are weaving around a waist-high black metal fence. A clear blue sky that makes me squint when I look at it. A breeze that undoes my work each time I tuck my hair behind my right ear.  My skin is warm and smells like me. Of course, I sniffed it.

To my right is a man and a woman with their cute little scruffy dog. Their conversation is easy. Comfortable. It's apparent that they've been together for some time. They don't gaze at each other and giggle the way that new lovers do. There isn't a palpable feeling of attraction. It's just two people enjoying each other. If that's how all relationships end up, I've got that in spades. Right now.

So, make your lists, if you want. Take note of how perfect this guy or that guy is for me. Picture us holding hands at the movies, or laughing over coffee. Picture us in a long embrace at the end of the evening. Picture us going to our respective houses, internal butterflies flitting about, smiles plastered on our faces. Picture anything you want.

But know for now that I'm completely happy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Birds Do It? Bees Do It?

Until about two months ago, I had no idea that birds have sex. Seriously. It took a friend of mine describing her frisky birds' behavior at home:
"I swear, every time Chris comes in the room, the birds start doing' it."
"Doing what?" I ask.
"Doin' it. You know, having sex."

The only other time I've been that shocked is when I found out that this guy's
name (pictured on the right) was "Rosco P. Coltrane," not "Rosco Peacotrain." This was revealed to me in my twenties, and I'm still a bit blown away by it.

I wasn't shocked about bird-sex talk. It takes a lot more than that to make me uncomfortable. It was the fact that she was implying birds do it. I mean, actually do it.

Until this moment, I figured birds kind of had that fish thing going on. The lady bird squeezed out an egg somewhere, and the dude bird came along and sat on it, doing his thing- whatever that thing is- on it, to make the egg turn into a baby bird. This is seriously what I thought.

I had seen pigeons with their little heads jerking back and forth (ok- now writing that did make me all of a sudden feel a little uncomfortable, now that we're on the subject- but I assure you, no pun was intended)- anyway, their heads were darting about and they seemed to be in pursuit of love. You know. Dancing around in little circles and stalking lady pigeons who seemed otherwise uninterested. I just thought they were being, I don't know- romantic?

I wanted to know more about this bird sex business, but was afraid to google it. "Teacher googles images of bird porn- Loses job." That's the headline I saw. Luckily, I didn't need to search the web for it. It came to me.

A couple of days after my friend's bird story, I was standing in line at a Home Depot in the outdoor garden center. "Uhhhhn! Them two birds is doin' it!" I heard my cashier say while looking up into the rafters. I followed her gaze, and sure enough, I saw it. Tails twisted all funny, off to the side, and one bird behind another, hopping on a single little twig foot, trying not to lose its balance. That was it. Some flapping and a bit more flapping and the whole thing was over. Which I was okay with, considering my cashier seemed unable to ring out my garden supplies and watch birds copulate at the same time.

I couldn't believe it. How had I gotten to be almost 38 years old and not known that birds do it? Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. Did I think those lyrics were just someone's funny business?

I took it upon myself to do a little research. I'm not sure what wigged me out more- the fact that most birds just have these, I don't know, little bird vagina things (both the males and females) and they just essentially kind of put them together and stuff gets passed from one to the other, or that some birds actually have penises. Bird penises! These would be your swans, ducks, geese, and ostriches. Grody.

All of a sudden I found myself a little uneasy when going out to take my dog on a walk. A cardinal hopped down from a tree, cocked its head to the side, eyeballed me, took three hops across the sidewalk, and flew off. I know what you've been doing, I thought. You're a dirty, dirty bird.  They didn't seem so innocent anymore. Their tweets and calls appeared to be the equivalent of an after-sex smoke seen in the movies. I needed to plug my ears.

When I really thought about it, I realized I had no idea how bees did it either. Searched that, too: Queen bee does it a bunch with dude bees. The dude bee sticks is business in the lady bee's business and, becomes paralyzed, falls backwards, and dies. The article I read actually referred to bee sperm and bee vaginas and I was all, "What?!" I felt okay entering "bee mating" into the search bar, but "bee vagina" is taking it a little far. Plus, I just don't think I'm ready for that kind of image. Some things you just can't un-see.

I now know how birds do it. I get that bees do it. Perhaps days, weeks, or years from now, I'll be brave enough to find out how fleas do it. What about snakes? Dolphins? Sea urchin?

Life seemed a whole lot easier when all I had to do was sit around and watch Rosco Peacotrain and listen for the sound of the baby-carrying storks flying overhead.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Putting the FUN in FUNerals

If I ever left teaching, I'd be a funeral director. I always thought I might have the potential to put the FUN in FUNeral (although perhaps newly grieving family members would not find it as humorous to watch me do the running man or go on and on about my arm flab in a self-deprecating manner.)

I'd make the funeral a big old celebration of the person's life. I'd have a dance floor. And a disco ball. People would get those little tiny containers of bubbles to blow. There would be life-sized cardboard cutouts of the deceased looking happy and having a good time. You may choose to get your picture taken with one of them, if you're not too busy dancing. There would be a photo booth. The coffin would double as the appetizer table so everyone had multiple opportunities to say goodbye to the body.  I'd put good food out, too. Those piggy wiggies, or whatever they're called. Blanketed tiny pork bits with sugary chewy bacon wrapped around them. A fancy toothpick.

There would be sad crying, and relief-crying, and crying from laughing so hard that tears come out. It would be hard to tell the difference.

I seriously considered becoming a mortician when I transitioned from retail manager to teacher, with a brief stop along the way to apply to become a St. Louis City Police officer. Here's the deal: I'm fascinated with the body (refer to multiple talks about poop or pimples that you may have had with me, or the many questions I've asked you after you've had surgery, gotten into an accident, or given birth.)

Look down at your body. Your arms. Your legs. Your feet and toes. If your shoes are off, give your toes a little wiggle. Do it again. You did that! You made that happen! Roll your head around- to the left. The right. Front and back. You did that, too! The eyes you're using right now to read this are in your head, and you can move those back and forth. Blink your lids. There. Again. Our bodies are the little containers of the "we" nobody ever sees. We use them to go where we want to go. Do what we want to do. Lift ourselves onto escalators or bend down to pick up dog poop. We laugh with them, Eat with them. Run with them. Make love with them. Give birth with them. If we're lucky, we grow old with them.

Then we leave them.

That's it.

Perhaps you think we just blink out, like the light on a tv screen. Maybe you believe we float up and see all of our long-lost friends and relatives. You might be of the mind that we come back and get to do it all again. Either way, what is known is that when you leave, you're not taking your body with you. It's staying. If I'm fascinated with live bodies, I'm even more fascinated with dead ones.

Now, don't go raising your little brows and picturing me with corpses throughout my house, posed in various states of relaxation: martini in hand, reading the NY Times, reclined on the sofa in a permanent nap, sprawled across an area rug, a St. Louis arch puzzle pieces scattered about. I'm not that creepy. Nor do you have to assume that I ever picture sitting in the movie theater, holding hands with a dead person. That's not the type of fascination I have, either.

It's just this- that body you have, the one you identify as "myself," will be left empty. Abandoned. Like a delicate cicada shell stuck to the side of a tree.

I may kneel a little too long at a coffin. I know this. I'm offering prayers, I'm thinking of those left behind. I'm praying for peace. And I'm looking at the body. This was my grandmother. I see the makeup that is unlike anything she would have worn in real life. This was my aunt. I'm looking at the hair that's sticking out of the ears and wondering if it will still grow after the burial. This was my friend. I'm grappling with the idea that this body is now an inanimate object, unable to do any of what it did just days before. This was my babysitter. I'm wondering who picked out the clothes and if the eyes are really sewn shut. This was my classmate. I wonder if they have socks and shoes on, or why bother. This was my friend's grandfather. I wonder who was the last person to kiss those lips. This was my friend's son. What were the last words heard with those ears? This was my childhood neighbor. I wonder. And I wonder. This will be me one day.

Tonight I look down at my body. I make it move. I hold my hand up in front of my face and watch my fingers wiggle. I touch my eyelids. My nose. My lips. I bend and curve my arms in wide sweeps that demonstrate my alive-ness.

That demonstrate my being alive.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Free Rein for the Brain

Not much time to write. I'll do a little freewriting and let rhymes keep things going if I get stuck. Brain's open. I'll just reach right in and see what's going on up there. Self-editor, be gone!

There's no need to make a fuss, Gus. I've dropped off the key, Lee.
Here is your incentive, what's your hurry?
(Did you see that mouse scurry under the deck?)
Score cards pencil shavings everyone's got 'em.
A certain trial and error
(Shhh! You'll scare her!)
I once pulled my lashes/they continued to grow
Did you know right here *points* is the way to the show?
Here, take my tooth, you can work on it a bit
Twist it enough and the tissue will rip
Touch this molar back here and the lights will go out
There they go. Velvet seats. I haven't a doubt
That the show will be great
(It's an epic on hate)
I favor the fabric instead of the screen
(Is that mean?)
I can't help it. I work at the hole.
Take this thread, hear it rip, irresistible pull
My hair braids itself has a life of its own
It dances and reaches for the sunnier side of the room
Make way! Here it comes! Don't miss it! It's passing.
If it likes you, you'll know it. It will reach for your hand.
(Can you stand it?)
It's always just later than planned.
Let's play cards. Here- look at the nape of my neck.
(Did you check?)
A story is there. It's fair
to assume no one's read it. Instead it's
been dormant
(Are you an informant?)
Very funny. I've seen you before.