“Oh! Darlin” / The Beatles (1969)
What? Two posts in one day? Don’t get used to it.
Today, as I watched a particularly riveting episode of Wife Swap (God, I hate that show), the phone rang. In our house, the answering machine always gets first dibs. Everyone else just stands around the phone when it rings, waiting to hear if someone worth speaking to is on the other end (rarely) or if it’s a telemarketer (sometimes) or if it’s a hang up call (9 times out of 10).
I muted Wife Swap (God, I hate that show) in time to hear the answering machine pick up, followed by…silence. This could only mean one thing: someone was actually leaving a message, and the sound on the machine had been turned down. I leapt up, raced to the phone, and turned on the volume in time to hear my 21-year-old brother’s voice on the other end: “…are you there? … No?… Well, okay…”
As I picked up the receiver and pressed “Talk” he hung up. Perfect timing, brother.
I was immediately concerned. He never calls the land line. Ever. He also sounded strange on the phone: some combination of sick and angry and dejected. My brain immediately leapt to the following conclusions:
Like a good sister, my first impulse was to cover for him. I immediately erased the message and dialed him on my cell phone. His voice mail immediately picked up, which probably meant he was making another call. Okay, Scenario One eliminated.
So I waited a minute and called again. No response. Then I texted: “Everything ok? Ddin’t get to phone in time sorry”
I returned to Wife Swap (God, I hate that show), making sure the volume was turned up on the answering machine and my cell phone was at the ready. After about ten minutes, my brain began to re-engage in Worst Case Scenario Mode, and I called his phone again.
This time, I left a voice mail: “Hey, what’s going on? Are you in a gutter somewhere? Let me know you’re okay. Sorry for calling a hundred times.”
By the time my parents returned, I’d decided to let my Mom make the first move. If whatever had happened to Brother was serious, she probably already knew. But they hadn’t seemed to rush home, so maybe they didn’t know. So I played it cool. After awhile, she spoke.
“Your brother called.”
“Oh?” (thinking: was that nonchalant enough?)
“Yeah, his phone broke. AGAIN.”
“Oh?” (thinking: you little cocksucker! I thought you were dying! I was ready to lie for you to the police, motherfucker, and it turns out you just broke your fucking cell phone? For the twelfth time?!)
“Yeah, he called us from the Verizon store. He needed a new one.”
“Oh.” (thinking: you dumb little shit! I was genuinely worried about you!). “Yeah, he called here first but I didn’t get to the phone in time. He sounded mad.”
“Yeah, he was. But it’s getting fixed. Or something.”
“Oh.” (thinking: If you were here, I’d smack you in the back of the head with a hot toaster, you jerk).
Sisterly love is a beautiful thing.
So even when I shell out my sometimes-hard-earned cash to have my taxes prepared online, I get a notice from the IRS saying something has been messed up. I’m not yet finished deciphering what this stupid notice means, but it seems to lack the BOLD PRINT and dates written in RED that characterize other notices I’ve received from my Favorite Government Agency, so I don’t think the water I’m in is too hot.
I’m not mad – if it turns out something actually is terribly, horribly, very badly wrong the online service is supposed to take the blame – I just thought this was going to be THE year that I filed my return with no mistakes.
As far as I know, my returns have always been pretty straightforward, very duh. Even if I’m filing multiple state returns (which is often; maybe the IRS thinks I’m on the run?). So how do I manage to make such catastrophic* errors year after year?
My inability to count past 20 or perform simple arithmetic without the aid of a calculator notwithstanding of course.
*Okay, maybe not catastrophic, but significant enough to catch the attention of the IRS (seriously, people, aren’t there greater offenders to deal with? *ahem* Wesley Snipes *ahem*)
When I was young, my parents rarely left the house without informing us of where they were going (which I suppose constitutes “good parenting”). This info was usually imparted using very specific (read: unique) verbiage: “I’m going to the old Kroger store” (to describe a supermarket that was a Kroger two store changes ago) or “I’m going to Boatmen’s” (the original name of the bank, which has since swapped ownership two or three times). As a result, there was never any mystery surrounding their destination, and we knew if we were expected to help carry in groceries when they returned, or to steer clear of a potential bank-induced bad mood.
In movies and in TV, however, busy moms and dads and singles “run errands,” which is a term that always fascinated me. Esoteric and vaguely glamorous, the concept of “running errands” seemed to imply a sort of city-wide scavenger hunt. It probably involved stops in places I had passed but never entered, like hobby shops, or dry cleaners, or doctor’s offices. These movie- and tv-people did things like dropping off luggage for repair, or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, or returning a recent purchase: all things my parents never did.
As I’ve gotten older, I approach the task of “running errands” with a blend of hopeful anticipation and gut-rending dread. While the prospect of being able to cross off items on my to-do list is inspiring, the idea of having to zigzag across the county in order to do so isn’t always my fave.
I wish I could recapture that mystery, that glitz, that sense of optimistic urgency and cosmopolitan-ness with which I always associated this most mundane of chores. Perhaps if I actually structured it like a scavenger hunt I’d be more interested.
That’s not a half-bad idea. Maybe I’ll also construct my next List O’ Errands while intoxicated. That way, when I read the list the next day I’ll be able to enjoy myself while deciphering just what the hell I thought was so important the night before. I imagine half of my tasks will read something like “buy more vodka” or “move to san francisco,” but I’m sure there’ll be something worth something in there.
Maybe being a grown-up isn’t so bad after all.
After working there for – oh, I don’t know, forever? – I finally, finally recognized one of the songs that plays over the sound system at work and man, am I pissed.
I’d heard it a gajizillion times before, and was fairly certain it was Kelly Clarkson (turns out it’s Joss Stone. Whatever). But not until I came home yesterday, still singing that damn song, that I realized that the lyrics were familiar…
And oh, holy shit, I was right.
See for yourself:
I don’t really know if I actually believe in Heaven and Hell and everything in between, but I have a hard time wrapping my brain around there not being a Heaven for little kids who pass away. There’s gotta be SOMEPLACE where they can go and finish their childhood, and do all the normal, dumb kid things, and all the normal, dumb teenager things, with other normal, dumb kids and teenagers. There has to be something for them. It sort of breaks my heart thinking that there isn’t.
Through a sort of chain-reaction of internet browsing, I came across this site a few weeks ago.
Rest in peace, Sicily. I hope there’s cheerleading camp and ponies and makeup for you to secretly borrow and high heeled shoes to play in and dumb boys for you to crush on and trees for you to climb and kids to play freeze tag with wherever you are now.
I’d say about 95% of the Facebook conversations I have with my friend Jamie involve Prince, or the Artist Formerly Known As. At this point, trying to remember how or when it all began is probably beyond our collective mental ability; even though that sounds like an insult, it’s not. It’s just one of those things that’s been going on that long.
As I looked through some of our wall posts to each other a few days ago, a random memory overcame me: I am somewhere – is it a bar? Is it some other sort of social function with large amounts of people? – and the song “Pussy Control” comes on the jukebox or sound system or whatever. And immediately – immediately – every single person in the room starts singing, no – yelling – the refrain, myself included.
Where the hell was this? When the hell was this?
Because this experience involved me screaming the word “pussy” I’ll put good money on the fact that I was somehow intoxicated, so I’ll probably never be able to answer those questions.
But it still bothers me.
It probably wasn’t a high school function because a) I didn’t show up to high school functions intoxicated and b) I don’t think the nuns would take kindly to our collective screaming of this particular ditty (though I’m pretty sure they played “The Thong Song” at prom, or did I make that one up?).
That leaves College And Beyond, with my years post-turning-21 as sort of a colorful blur. Just about anything is possible (see the Drunkenly Making Rice Krispie Treats On St. Patrick’s Day incident), and so it’s hard tellin’ just when this actually happened. I doubt that I made it up – I swear I can remember what the collective yelling of “ooooooohhhhh pussy controooooool!” sounded like – but… who knows.
Maybe it was just a dream.
A really, really fucked up dream.