Zohrbak: “So how’s your grandmother doing?”
Dorquemada: “Oh, she’s fine. She’s enjoying her time being spoiled. I’m just exhausted from sleeping with one eye open and jumping up every time I hear a bump at night.”
Zohrbak: “That’s cute. That’s parenthood in a nutshell, but ours lasts 18 #$%@ing years.”
Dorquemada: “Trust me, I thought about that. Yeesh.”
My grandmother tore her meniscus and had surgery last week. As per doctor’s orders, she has to keep her weight off her left knee for five more weeks. Until then, I’m in charge of all housekeeping details. So far, so good. The general state of cleanliness hasn’t slipped much. I’m nothing, if not a hygienic caveman.
Home security has actually improved. I perched boiling pots of tar atop our fence posts to deter marauding bands of Mongols, Huns, and door-to-door salesmen. I’ll occasionally patrol the premises and scream, “You barbarians can sack the rest of the neighborhood, but you’ll keep your perverted, pillaging paws off our property! And no one buys encyclopedias anymore, so buzz off!” Then I shake my fist angrily, lovingly kiss my tactical shotgun barrel, and shake my fist some more. I go back inside when I see my neighbor’s horrified faces.
No one’s been hospitalized with food poisoning. Yet. Actually, I’m a tad insulted when friends and family members express surprise over my culinary skills. For example, take today’s phone conversation with my dad, who lives in New Jersey. “I didn’t know you cooked,” he huffed suspiciously.
“Well yeah, Dad. I lived by myself for about 10 years after I got out of the service. I know how to fend for myself. Geez.”
“Well, I figured you can take care of yourself,” he said. “But I can’t cook. I never could. My food preparation isn’t much more than survival cooking.”
“Yeah, I remember those days. You didn’t eat much more than a bowl of boiled noodles. That’s why I learned how to cook. Because I would have hung myself if I ate like you every day.”
“That’s cute. You know what else you can do by yourself, right?!”
After the initial round of barbs was out of the way, we commiserated on our respective grannysitting ordeals. I’ve had a few struggles with my grandmother so far, but nothing major. She’s supposed to stay on her walker and not use her left leg at all. Nevertheless, there have been several instances where I’ve caught her bending over to dig in the pantry or haul stuff around the house.
My immediate response is to growl at her like Edward G. Robinson. “Meh, see?!? Look here, dollface! If I catch ya trying to stretch those stems, it’ll be curtains for ya! Curtains, ya see?!? Mehhh!”
She’ll just stare at me blankly. I’m used to it.
Then I’ll holler, “Cease and desist with the gymnastics, woman! And if I catch you trying to do another pirouette in front of the cupboard, I’m gonna brain you with this cast iron skillet!” To drive the point home, I‘ll wave the frying pan menacingly.
She complies 90% of the time. She’s relinquished all control over cooking, laundry, and housecleaning. If she has any complaints, she hasn’t expressed them…yet. She promises to behave when I leave the house for my morning workout, as well the occasional shopping trip or an evening visit with friends. So far, so good. But I have to stay alert for those moments when she gets bored or agitated and starts wandering around the house. And that’s when I brandish the skillet again.
Mercifully, our collective ordeal is temporary. My troubles aren’t nearly as arduous as Dad’s. His mother (my step-grandmother, for those you keeping score) is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, which means Dad has to keep her under constant surveillance. She already got lost driving, roamed outside in the middle of the night, obliviously walked away from a smoldering stove, etc.
So there’s that. Plus, he works nights. On average, he gets about 3 or 4 hours of sleep before she wakes up and putters around the house. The lack of sleep and constant worry has left him physically and emotionally exhausted. But he’s stubbornly clinging onto his hopes that he can ride this out until he retires next year, so what I can possibly say or do to change the situation?
Then there’s my friend Hot Lips. She told me she’s had her fair share of grannysitting mishaps. “My great aunt hates to drink liquids,” she sighed. “She ended up in the hospital several times due to dehydration, and I have to constantly remind her to take a couple of sips of water or cranberry juice. She crumples up her face as if I were making her take a nasty spoonful of medicine. I explain to her that our bodies need water to be healthy, and she’ll say ‘you sound like the rest of them!’”
Hot Lips continued. “She also hates taking a bath. It makes her grumpy.”
“What’s up with that? Is she is a geriatric hippie?”
“Well, she was born in 1916 so I don’t think ‘hippie’ would apply. I think she is part of that ‘30s mindset that once a day is excessive. Also, she is French.”
You have no idea how hard it was for me to bite my tongue and refrain from a barrage of French hygiene jokes. Then again, if you knew how achingly cute Hot Lips is, you’d understand. But there’s also a decent chance she’s plotting my doom after reading this post. Alas.
“So, she’s 95,” I muttered. “Wow. Well, maybe she’s one of those protohippies who hung out with Alice B. Toklas.”
“Doubt that. You’re so cheeky.”
“I am an incurable wiseass. But I’m sure you figured that out many moons ago.”
“But alongside the bad girl things she does, there are 8000 cute, sweet things that make me love her.”
“Yup,” I nodded. “Same here.”
Roughly 99.7% of all responsible parents are in a tizzy over the Casey Anthony verdict. Even though I’m an emotionally stunted troglodyte, I understand the outrage…to an extent. If I ever decide to procreate, I’m sure my reaction to a similar verdict would be more visceral. I’ve already had a fair number of arguments about the state’s prosecution (which I think was abysmal), as well as the permissible degree of doubt in evidence when a jury has a fellow human being’s life on the line (I say there should be zero). My outraged friends and I probably won’t reach a consensus, but at least it’s been a respectful dialogue.
I think I’m more curious why we even care. My friend Adam summed it up best. “According to the most recent stats available, in 2008 police in the US investigated 569 murders of children under 5 years old,” he said. “Where was the 24-hour cable news coverage and public outrage for them?”
I have a few halfcocked hypotheses. I imagine most of those murders were open and shut cases that involved a family member or close friend. A good number of the unsolved cases were probably long on mystery and short on sensationalism. Extensive coverage on some of the remaining cases might have triggered longwinded and uncomfortable debates about race or class, so they were sidestepped.
So why Casey Anthony?
Come on! We’re a country full of superficial and easily stupefied rubberneckers (me included). The kid was achingly cute. The mom was hot and slutty. When you compared Tot Mom to other jailhouse babes, she’s an 11. That’s why the story got national attention.
Dorquemada’s Scale of Relative Hotness factors in the news coverage, but it also applies to sentencing when a naughty girl is convicted. How about those female teachers that get caught in illicit relationships with underage male students? When you look like this, you get house arrest (lest the other gals in the clink prey on you).
And when you look like this, you get 5-25 years of hard time.
Hey, I’m not saying it’s not fair or right. It’s just an observation.
Dorquemada’s Scale of Relative Hotness also applies to the media itself. I previously expounded on that very topic in my “Wanted: spokemodels for the apocalypse” post that I’m too lazy to hyperlink. It’s no secret that Fox News’ rise to prominence is partially due to the deep and lofty lineup of hot Stepfordish blonde babes reading the teleprompters all day. It might have happened because they chased off any godless leftist who advocates dirty, commie, one-world government-loving , internationalist pinkos seizing my guns and forcing me to accept gay Muslim marriage between vegan Eskimo albinos who drive hybrid cars (with the Dixie Chicks blasting from the car stereo, of course). Because lord knows we have enough of that poppycock on the other news channels. But I think the babe quotient was also a factor. And it forced CNN to step up their game.
I’ll never reshuffle my stock portfolio based on Alison Kosik’s prognostications, but I will drop everything and gawk like an utterly transfixed boob whenever she’s on the morning broadcast. Unless I’m watching TV on the treadmill. Then I’m a love struck rat on a wheel, chasing a dream that’s excruciatingly fleeting and ephemeral.
Sadly, Dorquemada’s Scale of Relative Hotness also extends to the political arena. Because how the hell else do you explain Sarah Palin’s continued relevance?
It can’t be for her original ideas, because she has none. She’s like a human Speak n’ Spell of Republican talking points. Nearly everything that comes out of her mouth is a hodgepodge of vacuous platitudes that get shoehorned into the discussion. If she was ten years older or fifty pounds heavier, no one would have given a crap about her in the first place. Yet she somehow continues to work her hot chick mojo, which hypnotizes otherwise sober-thinking conservatives into defending her latest episode of verbal diarrhea, even if it means egregious historical revision (ex., her riveting account of Paul Revere). This dumbbell could trot out on stage tomorrow and emphatically proclaim that the sky is purple. By day’s end, Rush, Hannity, or Beck’s researchers will try to convince us that she is factually correct. And I’ll bang my head against my desk. Over. And over. And over.
So remember the Scale of Relative Hotness the next time you get swept up by the latest media furor. The only thing we enjoy more than a good trainwreck is one that is blow-dried and well-manicured. And maybe just a hint of Chanel.
Okay, I’m creeping myself out at this point…
Most of y’all know about my current ordeal. No need to rehash that right now. But I did want to thank my friends who’ve reached out to me via facebook, emails, phone calls, and sitdowns. Y’all have been great. I’m thankful for your well wishes and prayers.
One of the most commonly uttered sentiments has been “whatever you need, just let me know.” I certainly appreciate the gesture, but are you simply offering me your best wishes? Or are you really offering to do anything? Because you never know how I’ll try to take advantage of that offer.
That dreaded phone call in the middle of night? That probably won’t be a cry for help. That will be a demand for more beer money. So you’ll need to hightail it to some fetid watering hole ASAP, lest an empty wallet thwart my attempts to pickle my liver. You offered to do anything. Now cough up some filthy lucre.
Or it might be a request that you come over and mow my lawn immediately. I don’t care about the time, noise ordinances, or the utter triviality of said request. You offered to do anything. Now start edging my sidewalk.
I already asked for a flamethrower and a jetpack. I’m still waiting. For the past 20 years, I’ve wanted to wreak havoc like Fireball in “The Running Man.” My grandfather would beam with pride if he could see me fly around and burn crap simultaneously. You offered to do anything. Now get on the horn with General Dynamics and Blackwater.
And he definitely would want a bus full of babes dressed in superhero costumes to whisk me away to some fancy Japanese restaurant, where spandex-clad honeys would feed me sushi and sake until I puked. You offered to do anything. Now start cyberstalking some of those attention-needy gals who torment nerds at comic cons.
And I can assure you, my grandfather would want those cosplay cuties to look like this:
But I realize that’s a high standard. The next one is kinda scary and she violates my general rule about not cavorting with gals with biceps bigger than mine, but she’ll do.
And this is clearly unacceptable.
It’s time to call these bluffs. You offered to do anything. Now get to work.
I haven’t watched TV on a regular basis in a year and a half. When I was in Iraq, I’d take an occasional peek at televisions in the dining hall or the weight room. I only see it these days when I’m running on the treadmill at my local gym or when I’m visiting friends. I really don’t miss it.
The news is the worst. 99% of it is unrelentingly negative. The only positive thing that I can say is that almost all news anchors on cable TV are highly attractive these days. Before I left for Iraq, it seemed like Fox News was the only news channel that was honest enough to admit that sex sells, and they trotted out a murderer’s row of hot blonde babes. And while I’m very leery of Megyn Kelly’s prior history as a litigator, as well as her modern day persona as a creepy, Stepford-ish, country club Republican, that didn’t stop me from drooling over this broad for years. She could read the phonebook for four hours and I’d be spellbound.
So imagine my surprise when I came home and discovered that CNN had seriously ratcheted up their babe quotient. My new favorite news honey is Alison Kosik, who sifts through the morning’s tea leaves and predicts the latest financial disaster. My absolute favorite part of the morning news is watching Ms. Kosik’s live reports from the NYSE floor. Every day, dozens of old men hip check this delicate flower while she tries to remain composed for the TV cameras. I’m not sure if they’re trying to pinball her across the trading floor for instigating buyer’s panic, trying to feel her up for a nanosecond, or both. Nevertheless, it makes for riveting television. This is a brilliant move on CNN’s part, because if you’re going to tell people that their economic ruin is imminent, you might as well sugarcoat the presentation. Give those poor bastards some eye candy before they sell their wives and kids into chattel slavery and build an improvised fort from hubcaps, couch cushions, and Spam tins.
My morning run is a ping pong betwixt Fox and CNN. I don’t watch MSNBC at all, because they truly are the loony Bolsheviks screaming in the wilderness. Note to GE/ComCast, if you want to attract an audience outside of Fifth Columnists and tinfoil hat enthusiasts, you need to ramp up the babe quotient ASAP. And tell your dopey moonbat editorialists posing as journalists that I’ll respect their screeching entreaties that we need to pay more taxes when GE hands back one stinkin’ dime to the Treasury, even though they made billions in tax-free profit last year.
But I digress.
And besides, this just ain’t getting the job done.
Sometimes I feel like a hopeless rat on a wheel while I’m running on a treadmill and watching talking heads on CNN. It’s like I’m voluntarily hurtling towards the abyss in 3 to 5 mile increments. Every day, these well-coiffed and impeccably dressed goobers shriek that the crisis du jour will bankrupt and kill us all. But it never does. And every day, I get on the damn treadmill and fall forward in an upright manner until I achieve my optimum heart rate. And for what? So I can add another couple of years on the tail end of a mostly futile and unfulfilled existence? So I can stay in good enough shape that women can’t point towards my physical repulsiveness as an excuse to reject me out of hand? Instead, they can blame my awful disposition and innate creepiness. But I guess that’s progress, so I’ll keep working out.
So is the world really coming to an end? If so, are the illuminati trying to make it a bit more palatable by having exquisitely beautiful people pull back the curtains? Or is it simply our modern age of instant information that makes everything seem so awful? You never had to strain your neck to find misery in this world. You just get in real time nowadays.
This will shock most of you, but I’m usually a “glass half-full” guy while taking all of this in. After all, it’s hard to take beautiful people seriously when they’re trying to sell you a message of “holy shit, we’re all gonna die! But first, a word from our sponsors!” Such presentation lacks gravitas. I think there needs to be a rule that we dust off curmudgeons like Jack Cafferty, Brit Hume, Tom Brokaw, and Ted Koppell when the shit truly hits the fan. An “in case of dire emergency, break septuagenarian out of glass” law, if you will.
We live in a world with nuclear meltdowns, civil war, Kanye West, ethnic cleansings, Snooki, crippling deficits, Dane Cook, and bedbugs. It’s horrifying if you let it get the best of you. But it can’t be so bad if there’s still time for the silly human interest stories at the tail end of each hour’s news cycle. So in the spirit of whimsy, I leave you with a picture of a monkey riding a pig.
Gahhhhhh! I said a monkey riding a pig, not a monkeypig! In the name of all that’s holy, kill that thing!
Ahhhhh. Much better.
A couple of weeks ago, my brother, his girlfriend, and I took a short trip with Mom through LaSalle Parish. She showed off an estate sitting right off Highway 84 that recently went on the market. It consists of a picturesque two story house, a shop building, and a massive garage. All of that is perched atop a fairly steep hill, which overlooks several acres of oak and pine. It’s quite lovely. I never pry Mom about her finances but I hope she and her husband can acquire it, provided that the price is reasonable.
After taking a look at the property, we drove into Jena and had lunch. We passed by the estate as we drove back to Mom’s home in Whitehall. Mom interrupted her conversation with the rest of us and said a quick prayer out loud, which I will roughly paraphrase as, “Lord, please deliver us this home if it is according to Your will. Amen.”
“Geez, Mom! Isn’t that kind of selfish?” I asked. I was only halfway teasing.
“Hey! I made sure to ask for only something that He will deliver by His will! Besides, our house is tiny and our yard floods every time it rains! It will be nice to have a bigger house and a hill that lets the water run off!”
“But that still seems like a copout,” I retorted. “If I follow your logic, I can pray for anything as long as I drop in the ‘by Your will be done’ disclaimer. Doesn’t that add a lot of clutter to God’s day planner?”
“This sounds like one of your oddball thoughts. I don’t follow you,” Mom sighed.
“Check it out. I’ll give you a slightly more exaggerated example. ‘Dear Lord, please allow me to marry a Playboy Playmate with more curves than Horseshoe Drive and legs longer than the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway. But don’t deliver me just any bubble-headed blonde bimbo. Give me one with brains, personality, and a soul. By Your will be done. Amen.’”
“Okay, that’s just silly,” she muttered.
My brother piped in. “Is it? Maybe there is a girl just like that who’s waiting for Wayne. He’s smart. He’s been around the world. He’s not like most of those cheesy guys who usually marry those broads.”
At this point, I turned around in my seat and told him, “You and I rarely agree on anything, but that is a damn good point. It might be the most salient point you’ve ever made.”
“Thanks!” he gushed.
“You two boys are just silly,” Mom snapped. “I can’t believe you’re making light of this.”
“C’mon, Mom,” I pleaded. “That’s all I know!”
Well, not really. But I figured that wasn’t the time or place to argue about it. And Mom is (somewhat) justified in praying for this deal to come to fruition. Her home is small and the yard does flood every time there’s a heavy rain. It would be nice if they could acquire that big house on 84. I just know that I’d be uneasy about requesting divine intervention when it comes to real estate transactions. Like I noted earlier, on a good day I tend to view God as a deity with a pretty full plate. On a bad day, I feel like we’re an abandoned science project. This planet is chockfull of ugly and selfish people who won’t stop hurting themselves and each other, and we use the flimsiest pretexts to justify our awfulness. Tell me how we’re any nobler than a terrarium that went neglected during Spring Break.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus and Buddha and Shakespeare and Einstein and Hulk Hogan and all of that jazz. Nevertheless, most of us stink.
ANYWAY, I do know that I rarely pray for myself these days. Whenever I do, it’s pretty brief. My most fervent praying/begging/bargaining with God has always been for other people, like when my best friend was deployed to Iraq in ’04, which was an absolutely bloody and terrible time over there. Then there were my dealings with a soldier in Iraq last year. He was standing right next to his battle buddy, who was vaporized by a mortar. He looked like he was about to become unhinged, possibly suicidal. I didn’t eat for a week; I was so scared for that kid’s soul. As far as I know, he’s okay now…as much as one can be when you deal that type of horror.
And then there are my recent petitions for my grandfather, which most of y’all are well aware of by now. They’re putting a feeding tube in him today. I’m highly ambivalent about that, but it’s not my call and I’m not fighting the people who made that decision. More than anything, I just want an end to his agony.
Now that’s not to say I haven’t made exceptions. When I first got to Iraq, I prayed for strength to endure whatever came my way. I guess those were answered. And I did last week when I was vomiting with the force and speed of a shotgun blast, and then when I had a nasty blackened funk hanging over me. I’m much better now, so thank you Tiny Baby Jeebus.
Most people are surprised when I tell them that I didn’t do a lot of praying in the bunkers, when I had a scary near-miss with a mortar out in the open, or when I was in a chopper taking incoming fire. It was too late for absolution when those types of things happened.
You never knew when it was coming. If it was your time, then your ticket would get punched JUST. LIKE. THAT. At least that’s what I hoped for. I didn’t want to bleed out while I tried to cram my guts back in. That would have been the worst. But you couldn’t spend every waking minute worrying about it, so I just pushed it to the back of my mind. I honestly spent more time worrying about how KBR would screw us over on a daily basis and if LSU would ever get a competent quarterback than I did worrying about death and damnation.
So I’m not holding my breath waiting for God to answer my latest smartassed prayer request. And besides, I have a general rule of thumb when it comes to meeting hot babes. If she’s an 8.5 or higher, I’m probably not even going to bother. She’s either already taken or she’s heard it all before. And most babes who are considered to be “most beautiful” have no personality or humor whatsoever. They never needed to develop it. Their whole identity and worldview hinges on their physical beauty, which is ephemeral. And most women are already insane for the most part, so reality doesn’t matter to them most of the time. So why in God’s name would I want to deal with some hot neurotic mess?
Tiffany, I think we shared “a moment” at Comic-Con. Have your people contact my people and we’ll do lunch.
One of the wonderful things about the (quasi) anonymity of this blog is that it affords me a chance to pontificate on some of the uglier aspects of life without fretting too much about the ensuing collateral damage. At the very least, it allows me enough space to delve into subject matter that I just can’t go into with the 420 character limit imposed by facebook for status updates. I’ve dug myself into several holes along the way with facebook comments that sacrificed context for brevity. It’s pretty embarrassing when a wisecrack misfires, feathers get ruffled, and I have to go into damage control mode. Sometimes the joke bombs because it just stinks, but I’d say a lot of complications resulted from a dearth of exposition. Anyway, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Then there are times when I made a joke that was funny, and someone was just a ninny. Deconstructing a comment for a lummox who is simply hellbent on policing my thoughts and language because they don’t fall in perfect sync with their own is enraging. It’s a surefire way to get on my bad side permanently. And if some of those people managed to stumble across this blog and feel the creeping burn of shame whilst reading this, rest assured that I still think you’re a humorless douche. WHAT THE #$%@ HAPPENED TO YOU?! YOU USED TO BE FUN!!!
Now where was I?
Oh yes! I meant to talk about women’s prison in this entry. People who know me well are already aware that I have a sister who is currently housed in the Avoyelles Parish Women’s Correctional Center. It’s not a dirty little secret, but it’s not something I feel the need to interject into conversations unless someone asks about her. If they do ask, I don’t tap dance around her situation. Then again, people who know her well were already aware of her demons. I figured it was just a matter of time before she ended up behind bars or a body bag. All things considered, I’m thankful that the law won out. A year and a half into her incarceration, she’s sober, somewhat healthy, and finally repentant for her misdeeds. For that alone, I’m thankful. As far as the social pariah status and the challenges to her sobriety that will accompany her eventual release, we’ll cross those bridges in due time.
I had little to no contact with her while she was addicted, because she was so far gone that she could not be trusted. It’s a shame that it took lockup to finally dry her out, but here we are. She started writing me while I was in Iraq last year. That led to regular correspondence between the two of us via snail mail. Out in Iraq, it meant a letter about once or twice a month. Now that I’m an hour’s drive away, we’ll write each other at least once a week. She stayed so messed up for so long that it still surprises me to read a cogent letter from her. She’s made some significant strides. And for that I’m thankful.
She’s allowed two new books and two new CDs a month. She loves to draw, so I’ll get her a new art book every month. Her letters are always chockfull of doodles and sketches. I’m genuinely impressed with her improvement, although I’m not thrilled with her enthusiasm for giving homemade tattoos to her cellmates. Nevertheless, she might inspire me to start drawing again.
I told her to just trust my judgment when it comes to the rest of my purchases. While I’m certainly willing to encourage her artistic impulses, I’m not dropping a dime on the New Age poppycock that she requested – books about dream interpretation, astrology, alien abductions, and psychics. I’m force-feeding her a bit of culture whether she likes it or not, damn it. This month, I got her a copy of “Confederacy of Dunces” and Big Star’s first two albums. She loved them, just like I knew she would. Now we have even more stuff on which we can commiserate when I visit.
And that brings me to the topic at hand. My sister is allowed visitation every other Saturday, from 12:30 to 3:00. I haven’t missed one since coming home for good. I’m probably going to skip this weekend’s visit for a rendezvous with my latest mercurial she-devil, who looks like a cross between a younger version of Lucinda Williams and Kaitlin Olson. I hate myself for allowing her to bewitch me so, but that’s a long story to be continued later. I’m sure I’ll embarrass myself thoroughly before it’s all said and done, but what can I do?
God, I hate myself.
Now where was I?
Oh yes! Prison! Focus, focus!
I enjoy my jailhouse visits with my sister, even though they are emotionally exhausting. I can deal with that. What I have a hard time dealing with is the fact that women’s prison is decidedly unsexy. What the hell is that about? Those damn Italian exploitation movies bamboozled me! I spent 30+ years fostering a deluded fantasy that prison babes looked like this:
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of penitentiary pets look like this.
And the ones that come up to my sister in the yard and tell her that they’d like to know me better tend to look like this.
And that is clearly unacceptable.
If Bruno Mattei wasn’t already dead, I would be on the first Italy-bound pond hopper in order to kick that spaghetti bender’s ass.
Another dream evaporated. Alas.