Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lydia oh Lydia, Say Have You Met Lydia

I’ve grown out of adolescence. I no longer think every single person on the planet is looking at me and snickering at something weird I just did. In fact, I’m pretty certain that on most days no one notices me at all. However, if on the off chance that you were driving down Ventura Boulevard last month and thought, “Say isn’t that Quinn Cummings leaving her young daughter alone at a tattoo parlor and driving off?” then I need to explain.

It was for health reasons.

If I had to break down my conversations with Daughter for the last ten months, thirty percent would be “Just five more minutes of reading and then I swear I’ll turn off the light and go to bed without a peep, I promise” and thirty percent would be “Math? Again? But I did math last week!” and thirty percent would be “When can I get my ears pierced?” The other ten percent is sneering at squash. I wasn’t all that excited about her getting her ears pierced, at least partially because newly-pierced ears, what with the cleaning and the turning and the monitoring, are kind of like a pet; a pet which, if ignored, gets crusty and gross. I wasn’t in the mood for a new pet. But she finished wearing her palate-expander and had taken excellent care of it, not losing it even once, and she was a trooper when it came to book publicity, melting into her room when I needed to do phone interviews and finding non-Mom-pestering hobbies when I swam through the Quinn Cummings Seemingly Endless Blog Book Tour. Grudgingly, I admitted she had earned those ear-holes.

So, last month, she had an appointment with our dermatologist anyway, I thought “Piercing, done in a hygienic environment!” and I exclaimed grandly to the kid, “Today, the doctor shall pierce your ears!” and she squealed “And we can show Daddy when he gets home from New York tonight!” and I smiled and she smiled and I basked in what a good mother I was.

“Oh, no. We don’t pierce ears,” the dermatologist said briskly, “that’s aesthetic.” Foolish Quinn, thinking a place with big ads in the waiting room extolling the virtues of freezing my face with botulism had an interest in aesthetics for profit. Daughter looked at me as we walked to the car, worried. “We’ll find somebody to pierce your ears,” I said in a soothing tone, “very soon.”
She knows that “Very soon.” It means “This just got put on a list only slightly shorter than the Mahabharata and it won’t get done before you’re worried about the calcium level in your bones.” She keened “But I want to show my pierced ears to Daddy tonight!”

Guilt poked me in the ribs. Along with everything else which was going on, Consort had been spending every other week traveling for work and she missed her father dreadfully. But, again, she’d been a real brick about it. If anyone deserved voluntary puncture wounds, it was my kid. I squared my shoulders and swore, “You will have pierced ears before nightfall!” I may have even pointed towards the sky with my index finger, such was my determination.

We left the doctor’s office and I stopped in the first jewelry store we saw, thinking someone in there would know about piercing options. Daughter admired the shiny things, happily holding the earrings up against her earlobes as the owner and I talked. Yes, she said, I could take the kid to the mall and get her ears pierced at one of the stands, but this woman couldn’t recommend it. She told me several Grand Guignol stories about poorly-cleaned plastic piercing guns which can’t be autoclaved, epic infections and asymmetrical, ragged holes which required stitching closed and repiercing. “I tell everyone to go to a tattoo parlor for piercings. It’s cleaner.” I prefer my rites of passage without blood-borne pathogens, so I thanked her sincerely and we headed off.

I don’t know what your family does on a Friday in August, but my family likes to drive through Hollywood, dashing in and out of tattoo parlors. Had I felt a need to get the Virgin of Guadalupe inked on my forearm, we could have been done before tea-time, but I came to discover that in every tattoo parlor, there was exactly one piercing guy and he was a night-owl. Not one of them was expected in before seven that evening. Consort was due home at six. We were both hot and exhausted; Daughter was near tears. “Sweetheart,” I said as we got back into the car for the thirtieth time, “we just might not be able to do this today.”

I steeled myself for the inevitable whine, preparing my unbearably tedious lecture of the importance of learning to wait for the things you want in life. Instead, she said softly, “It’s okay. I know you tried your best. I’ll get them...very soon.”

Which, of course, sent me into spasms of sorrow and resolve. I can’t give Daughter a back yard large enough for a pony, I can’t give her summer vacations in our second home in Maine but by God I can give her newly painful earlobes! We drove over the hill, into the San Fernando Valley, because they either had piercers who were early birds or we were going to Big Sugar and eating our sorrow.

As hot as Hollywood had been, the Valley was ten degrees hotter. Getting in and out of the car at various parlors became an exercise in watching my toenail polish melt. Finally, we drove up to one place which had the requisite flames and skulls painted on the window and a few shirtless and scrolled young men hanging around the door. There was no place to park. I said to Daughter, “Okay, we both know they aren’t going to have a piercing guy working right now, but you go in, ask them. I’ll wait here in the driveway.”

She got out of the car, dashed in, and dashed out again a second later, beaming and giving me a thumbs-up. I waved to her to get back in the car, but she had already darted back into the tattoo parlor. Fine, I thought, I’ll just park on Ventura which will take no more than a second, because there’s always parking on Ventura. And it should have taken no more than a second, were this storefront on any other block in the seventeen miles of Ventura. But this block, and the block next to it, was completely full; I had to park two blocks away from the tattoo parlor where my nine year-old daughter and her new friends waited for me. I sprinted in hundred-degree heat, my flip-flops sticking with each step. Finally, I got to the parlor; Daughter was sitting in the piercing chair, paging through a motorcycle magazine. She pointed to the girl straddling a hog and said, “Can I get those shorts?” Without looking, I said “No” and said to the owner, “I’m with her.” The owner said mildly, “Yeah, we wondered about you.”

So many people have.

Once I stopped gasping for air and determined no one had touched my daughter inappropriately, I couldn’t have been happier with the process. The piercer, who I believe was called Lemur, had a sparklingly-clean station; his tools were all metal and came in their own bags, fresh from the autoclaver. Lemur and Daughter discussed where exactly she wanted the holes; if she planned on getting multiple piercings later on, or those larger plugs, he’d account for that. She and I looked at each other with wide eyes. I didn’t exactly see this child of mine -- the one in walking shorts and a polo shirt with a crab embroidered on it—going for the earlobe plug anytime soon, but I appreciated Lemur’s thoroughness.

The actual piercings were quick and, according to Daughter, more weird than painful. He put in tiny hoops; I won’t tell you what part of the body Lemur usually pierces with them. Daughter stared in the mirror at herself in fascination while I paid. I smoothed her hair, noticing her head now clears my shoulders. “Sorry about leaving you here by yourself,” I whispered in her ear. She shrugged. “You always come back.” I looked at the clock. “Speaking of coming back, I think we need to get to the airport, don’t you?”

She grinned and we headed into the convection oven that is the San Fernando Valley, pierced and pleased.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I am the Eggman

I conceived an idea. Like most conceptions, it began with an egg. This egg was with a bunch of its friends at a gas station.

“Say,” I thought, “you, Quinn, would never eat a jar-egg. You should eat a jar-egg.”

If you’ve ever been in a dusty bar on an abandoned highway, you’ve seen jar-eggs. If you’ve been in a gas-station in an unincorporated part of your city, you’ve seen jar-eggs. They are hard-boiled eggs, bobbing around in an unwholesome way in a cloudy vat of brine. Sometimes there’s a lid on the jar, but as often as not the lid is rakishly tipped to the side, a lid-beret welcoming all insects, some of whom lie dead on the top egg. A jar of eggs lets you know you can get a Quik-Pik Lotto ticket at this place and that hope snuck out the back door without paying the check many years ago. I had never known a single person to eat a jar-egg. True, I had never heard of a person dying of eating a jar-egg, but that might be because no one had ever eaten one. Or, the kind of person who ate a jar-egg tended to die down next to the river and wasn’t found until spring.

But here’s the thing; I spend what sometimes feels like all my waking hours telling my daughter to be brave about trying new foods and the reality is that I haven’t eaten a single new food in the last decade. A woman who is nearly 70% bean-and-cheese burrito by volume isn’t in the position to convince her daughter to try kale. I suspect a woman who has eaten a jar-egg will have a knowing glint in her eye that her daughter cannot ignore. She might also have an IV tube in her arm, but that was a risk I was willing to take, if it meant the kid would eat another vegetable besides broccoli and green beans.

I denied myself those particular gas station jar-eggs, but the idea kept floating around, as unattractive and compelling as the actual eggs. I called my friend Mary, because she eats nearly everything and what she doesn’t eat, she knows someone who does. Without much fanfare, I suggested I might, possibly, eat a jar-egg. She gasped.

“I have never known anyone who ate a jar-egg.”

This was worrisome.

“Do you think it could kill me?” I asked.

She thought. “No…I-well, it probably doesn’t have anything in it that could kill you…the brine should help.”

We sat in silence, each contemplating how much brine could be reasonably expected to do.

“Ooh,” Mary said suddenly, “If you’re going to do it, you know where you have to get the jar-egg? Phillipe’s, downtown. I’ve been going there since I was a baby, my parents went there since they were kids, and none of us have ever seen someone eat a Phillipe’s jar-egg. The brine is purple.”

And here I thought it only came in a cloudy and unsightly green.

“Do we know why it’s purple?”

“Beets, I guess.”

Oh, this was getting good. I despise beets in any form. Canned, baked, precious little heirloom ones on a fancy salad, they all taste like iron filings to me. I’d sooner lick a handrail; same flavor and you’re done faster. But beets are very good for you and I’ve always felt badly that I hadn’t given them more of a chance, when I wasn’t shooing them off to the corner of my plate. I’d eat a jar-egg and it would taste in some way of beets and even if I never did another brave thing in my life, I’d have that. If Daughter flinches at the sight of a Brussels sprout, I can lean over to her and say knowingly, “At least it’s not marinated in beets.”

I invited friends to come watch me eat the Phillipe’s jar-egg, both for the support and for the corroboration. If I was going to eat a jar-egg, I wanted to make sure someone could stand beside me in years to come and say, “Yes, she indeed ate a jar-egg,” because I suspected I wasn’t doing it again. Or maybe I was entering a new phase in my life, the jar-egg-eating phase, I mused as I called accomplices. Maybe I’d take to driving all over the West Coast, comparing brine-styles. Perhaps my friends would chuckle when I wasn’t around and say things like “That Quinn and her eggs.” Maybe this was just the beginning of finding out the world had endless treats and surprises and some of them lived in jars filled with unhealthy-looking fluid. Perhaps I shouldn’t have bandied the phrase “Unhealthy-looking fluid” around when inviting my friends, because no one wanted to go. Couldn’t take the kid, because she’d never eat outside the Frito-Lay food group if I started gagging and clutching at my throat. As with being born and dying, I was to eat my jar-egg alone.

It was lunchtime; the lines at Phillipe’s were long but efficient, a function of it being the restaurant of choice for employees at City Hall and the courts. I had a few minutes to contemplate the purple jars at the head of each line. No one else was acknowledging them. I dithered about my order. Should I just order an egg, gazing directly at the counterwoman, reveling in my own iconoclastic jar-egg-ness, letting my egg freak-flag fly? That seemed a little extreme. Maybe I should order a whole lunch, just letting the egg participate. But then I’d always have the chance to cover whatever egg-flavor there was in the rest of my lunch, winning on technical points but knowing forever that I hadn’t really fully experienced the jar-egg.

Or maybe I should just get a sandwich and let the jar-egg remain mythic and unknown, the Yeti of side-dishes.

I got to the front and said to the fiftyish counterwoman, “A cheese sandwich, a Diet Coke and…an egg.” This felt like buying an emery board and a road map to make the porn magazine look less unseemly.

She squinted. “An egg-salad sandwich?”

Oh, she was going to make me beg for it. “No, I…want a egg. From the jar.” I jerked my thumb towards the jar. The eggs bobbed, happy to be noticed. The counterwoman grabbed a square of wax-paper and fished out an egg; it was sort of a light bluish gray, the color I associate with people who have drowned. I noticed the counterwoman next to mine stuck her arm in and grabbed another egg; unbelievably, the woman next to me had ordered one as well. The other jar-egg aficionado smiled at me and I noticed she was easily ninety and was missing several of the more critical teeth. These were my new people. The egg was sliced in half and put next to my sandwich. A bit of fluid leaked from the egg and contaminated my cheese. I tried not to scream.

The egg itself was kind of lovely, if you weren’t expecting it to look like an egg. The cutaway side had a dot of yellow in the middle, which then became orange, then florescent purple, and then pink. It was an airbrushed picture of a sunset on the side of a van, it was a Big Stick popsicle, but it wasn’t an egg. It was especially not an egg because whatever other things the brine had contributed during their possibly years-long life together, it had changed the texture of the part which had once been the yolk. The entire thing was an undifferentiated mass of solidity. I touched the egg; it bent and then sprung back.

Quickly, before I could manage to drop it on the ground and race for the door, I shoved half the egg into my mouth and started chewing. While driving down to the restaurant, I had tried out a few adjectives in advance. Disgusting? Was it going to be disgusting? Vile? Rancid? Somehow, would it turn out to be delicious? Wouldn’t it be fun if it turned out to be oddly delicious? This wasn’t completely out of the range of possibility. In certain restaurants in Los Angeles, there are jars of what appears to be a jar of used dishwashing water with a ladle in it. Anyone with a sense of survival would tell you the only possible use for that liquid would be to shine up your pennies and quarters. But that liquid is, in fact, a traditional Mexican beverage called horchata and it can be really delicious and those who drink it just learn to ignore the color, which is an unwholesome beige. Perhaps the jar-egg was just terribly misunderstood.

Here’s what you need to know about Phillipe’s jar-eggs: they taste like a beet-infused eraser. I chewed that first half for about three minutes before it broke down into small enough bits so that I could swallow it. I felt it fight its way down my esophagus and settle into my stomach, which recoiled in confusion. Fine, be like that. One half jar-egg down, one half jar-egg to go. I popped the eraser in my mouth, had a nice long chew and went to swallow, only to find that my throat simply refused to let down chewed beety jar-egg. I argued with my throat, but my throat was steadfast; this wasn’t food and we weren’t swallowing it.

In desperation, I finally offered, “Tell you what. Swallow the jar-egg and before it even bounces hideously off our stomach-lining I’ll drink the Diet Coke and make the flavor go away. And I’d take this offer if I were you, throat, because in order to get this egg away from my tongue I am fully prepared to start massaging you like I do to get the cat to take her pills.”

I wasn’t bluffing. I never bluff when it comes to get the flavor of beet out of my mouth. Resentfully, my throat allowed the egg to pass. Quickly, I followed it with Diet Coke and then a slightly beet-scented cheese sandwich. All told, eating the egg had taken no more than seven minutes. I was exhausted. But I was also pleased. I had done something I suspected I would dislike, I had stared it down and I had prevailed. If I could do a small, disgusting, brave thing, maybe I could do another brave thing. I wasn’t going to run my own sheep farm in Australia, but maybe if I did enough of these small brave acts, someone might describe me as being “Fun and up for stuff” as opposed to “ Timid and usually eating a burrito.”

I cleaned up my table. A woman, searching for a seat in this peak hour, rushed to my side, her tray in her hand. I noted she had no jar-egg.

“Are you finished?” she asked. I said, “Oh, yes” and smiled a private smile. I then burped egg and beets and thought, this modeling good behavior is no place for amateurs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

But, wait!

One more. Consort just read the blog with the winners and said, "Where's Judy?" And I explained that I felt like four was almost too much and five was too much and it killed me but Judy was cut. And then Consort said, "Judy's answer was hilarious and five is too many to whom, exactly? It's your blog, it's your rules."

And he's right, isn't he?

Judy, write to me. I have a book of yours.

It's an Honor Just to be Nominated

Thanks to everyone who participated. It seems many of us long to poke young hopeful couples and make them see clearly. Choosing someone to receive a copy of my book Notes from the Underwire was challenging. So challenging, in fact, that I'm giving out four. If you're a winner, leave me a message on Twitter (I'm Quinncy), and I'll send it right off.

First, Kristin, because when you go to the ER as often as I do, you know exactly how important the calm person who remembers to bring change for the vending machines is.

Second, Runs Like a Gay for correctly pointing out that "Let's get the dishes done tonight so we don't have to see them in the morning" will always sigh when "It's better to let them soak until morning" has their say.

Next, Tammy for taking us through a specific-yet-universal Ikea experience. I suspect this wasn't fiction-writing, but we won't take points off for that.

Finally, Michaele for articulating something I had meant to flog harder in the story. If they speak horribly to a waiter, take heed. Some day, they'll use that tone with you.

If I could have, I'd have handed out fifty three books, that's how much fun I had reading these. Thanks again, and now go off and tell single people how to run their lives.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Several people I know have gleefully come up with situations for courting couples to attempt. They've had entirely too much fun, as I did when I poked and prodded my guinea pigs for three weeks. So I'm asking you: what should couples do to determine compatibility before actually dating?

Best answer gets an autographed copy of my book.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

You Can't Have One Without the Other

(If you're new, please read this, and then this. Sure, I can't make you, but you'll have no one to blame but yourself when this makes even less sense than I usually make.)

It's time for breakfast. You two will be going to a local diner which has been there for eighty years. Coincidentally, the waitstaff has also been there eighty years. All you two want is caffeine and it’s being brought to you by a sweet grandmotherly lady who appears to have Parkinsons disease, which means she inches across the room and then sloshes half the pour into your saucer and a bit into your lap. She’s terribly apologetic for that, as she is a few minutes later when, having misheard you two, she brings a roast-beef sandwich instead of toast and a turkey leg instead of eggs. Within five minutes, you’ll each know how much tolerance the other person has for frailty and, believe me, you want to know that.

But hurry, my little guinea pigs, hurry, finish up your roast beef and turkey (and, puzzlingly, ambrosia salad and pickles, which arrived on a plate together), because we need to get down to the city and go to...the mall! Because we are our most like ourselves in the mall, bless our little hearts. First, you find a parking space. Too many of us are Park in the farthest part of the lot so no one scratches the car. Whatever time we lose walking a quarter of a mile we save in not driving around near the elevator, married to I am prepared to sit in the lane for as long as it takes for this moron to finish adjusting his rear-view mirror and flossing. A parking-space next to the elevator is worth more than rubies to me. RUBIES! We can avoid a lifetime’s sniping and silences right now with one short trip to Nordstroms. Again, it doesn’t matter what sort of parker each one of you is, as long as you’re in agreement.

[But you close-parkers are really weird. What is that, some unfinished hunter-gatherer thing?]

[Consort would like you close-parkers to know that you’re completely right; a few minutes spent getting a nearby spot is worth it after shopping, if you’re carrying big bags. He also wants to you know that I have on occasion parked so far from the mall entrance that he thinks I was parked in another mall. In another county.]

Having parked, you are in the mall and this morning will be spent finding him a pair of socks. In 2002, he found a pair of sort of khaki socks which went perfectly with most of the pants he wore for work. He bought six pair and has never seen them since. This doesn’t stop him from checking in every single store for those socks. You must keep him company. If you feel like it, you can also paw through the racks, holding up what you think are khaki socks. Just be prepared to be snickered at, because the khaki socks he had were so much better. Your job is to look supportive and say nothing. If you want, consider this a sign of tenacity. Perhaps if you two got married and you disappeared, he might spend years and years looking for you. That is, of course, if you went with as many things as these socks did.

Mid-day break. You get to go to a movie! Of course, you two have to agree to which movie, and what snacks to get. If you’re Twizzlers and she’s nachos, that’s something you’ll want to know. If he’s five kinds of candy and a Diet Coke and you’re a bottled water and unbuttered popcorn, you’re probably not going to be sharing snacks, at the very least. And oh, the movie. Does it star Sandra Bullock or does it star robots? Does it take place in Edwardian England or does it take place in an England populated by zombies? I’m not assuming who wants to see whom; I’ve known quite a few female action-movie fans and not every man sitting in a movie theater watching an adaptation of Henry James is there by force. Under usual dating circumstance, someone would be polite and say something like “I’ve heard great things about ‘G.I. Joe’,” but we’re not under normal circumstance, are we? You two are exhausted and your hair looks weird and in the case of one of you, haven’t found your socks again. You two are much more likely to see how deeply the other person actually feels about Shia LaBeouf.

You’re welcome.

Having settled on the movie, now you must find a seat in the theater. Some people don’t care in the slightest, so long as they aren’t behind someone who starts for the Pacers. Some people are Consort, grimly determined to sit in the perfect seat. Usually that means inching around the group of nuns in the middle of the row, getting to the seats, determining that the perfect seats are just one seat over, asking the nuns to move down one seat, sitting down in our new seats only for Consort to suspect the perfect seats are one row in front of us. Now, I love him and the nun’s boss knows I have far weirder quirks, but as one has spent more than one set of previews trudging through a movie theater like a desert nomad, I want to make sure no one else unknowingly falls in love with a Seater.

After the movie, you two are refreshed and possibly illuminated as to the other person’s movie habits (I believe talkers, snoring nappers and ostentatious bag-rustlers should carry a warning label). Good, because now it’s time to separate the amateurs from the professionals. She’s going to try on jeans; she’d like your opinion.

Young man, where are you going? Get back here. Oh, stop sniveling, it’s not that hard. You just need to tell her if she looks better in this pair or that pair.

Or this pair?

Or this pair?

Or this pair?

Or this pair?

Does the second pair give her a muffin-top? You don’t remember? Then let’s go back to that store and try them on again. Now, is there a muffin-top? What do you mean, “No more than any other pair”? What is that, a joke? You’re saying she’s got a muffin-top in all of them? You’re saying she’s flabby?

How about this pair?

Or this pair?

Or this pair?

You know what, let’s go back and look at all of them again the darker wash. And the darker wash, in the boot-cut.

Her job is to maintain some semblance of self-esteem as she starts to suspect all jeans were designed to make her favor her grandfather, who is seventy-eight and has no butt. His job is to hold her purse and every third or fourth pair, compliment her on her butt.

I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t want you two to stay married.

Finally, several hours later, a cashier is ringing up one pair of jeans. You two are exhausted, sick of the sight of one another and toying with the idea of faking your own death in order to get away. We Marriage Marathon producers sweep in and grab each of you, taking you to separate hotel rooms. In each room is a nice outfit, a working hairdryer and your beauty products of choice. Maybe you take a catnap. An hour or so later, we swing back to pick you up and we bring you to a nice restaurant. Out in the patio, under the twinkling lights, is your weekend companion, cleaned-up and beaming.

Now you may have a date.

If over a decade in the marital trenches has taught me anything, it’s that the date shouldn’t be placed at the beginning but at the end of the courtship. If you can look across the table at someone and think “You chew your ice and the sock thing is a little weird, but you make me laugh and you pulled all the dark-wash straight-cut jeans in my size without a word of protest,” you’re nearly home. Personally, I think a good marriage isn’t defined by the trips to Hawaii; it’s saying “I’m going to get the car battery replaced, want to come along?” Because anyone looks good on the beaches of Oahu, but your spouse looks good keeping you company at Sears.

Thanks for letting this story take three weeks. Now, I’m going to leave Consort a voice-mail, telling him how lucky I am and see if he wants to go on a date tonight.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This I Tell You Brother

If you don't read the previous blog, this will make less sense than usual. So, really, just read it.

While you two sober up, we allow you two to sit in the vineyard gardens. It’s lovely there: the sunlight dappling the grape vines, the quiet only broken by the gentle buzzing of the bees at the nearby beehives, the friendly vineyard dog. The very friendly dog. Buster, the nine month-old Labrador retriever with the crotch fetish and the submissive peeing issue. I don’t care where each of you is on the subject of pets. But if we address this now, you should never turn to your mate and say in a hurt voice, “But I thought you LIKED dogs!” If Buster checking out your undercarriage and baptizing your shoes doesn’t bother you, you can safely be called a dog person. For a small additional fee, I can arrange for the barn cat to spring unexpectedly into someone’s lap and claw-bat viciously at any attempt to pet its rump.

Everyone feeling sober after the wine tasting? Good, because you have a room reservation for the night up at a quaint cottage in the mountains. The front desk closes at dusk. The sun is heading towards the treetops.

Race, daters, race.

Learn how the driver handles narrow mountain roads when the possibility of sleeping in the car grows with each passing minute. Learn what sort of relationship the passenger has with The Creator as the car careens up the twisty two-laner and careens around a succession of logging trucks hauling what seems to be the entire Adirondacks.

Race, daters, race.

Arrive at the bungalow court with minutes to spare. Grab your key and head for the restaurant. Discover the restaurant is closed. Ask the desk-clerk where the locals eat. Learn that in the thirty-seconds it took to discover the restaurant was closed, the desk-clerk has evaporated. Cobble together a dinner from what is in the car: a fine repast of Tums, damp Cheetos, the last Slim Jim and a bottle of Clamato juice. Neither one of you drinks the Clamato juice.

[As provisioners of this exercise, we keep a can of Clamato juice in the car for just this moment. We have yet to replace it.]

Finally, you two are in your room. Perhaps, even through the rigors of the day, you have grown to find each other attractive. Perhaps you find each other extremely attractive. Perhaps you just want something pleasant to happen in this day. Well, whatever licentious thoughts you’re having you can just leave in the car with the clam juice. We’re looking for a person who can take you through your life, not through the night. And to keep you two focused on this larger goal, may I introduce the people in the cabin next to yours? Today, these people attended a wedding for friends in the clearing down by the waterfall. It was a lovely wedding, sweet and solemn. The people in the next cabin are compensating for having behaved like little angels all day by drinking a hearty mixture of peppermint schnapps and Robitussin. Here’s a favorite phrase of theirs:


They have a few other choice phrases as well but they are all too obscene to render here. They also seem to have lots of hobbies, including:

1.) Smoking what they would call cigars but others would call used gym socks soaked in kim chee,
2.) Urinating against the wall of your cabin,
3.) Offering to kick each others asses. The women seem especially fond of this one.
4.) Vomiting on to your porch.

There is a phone in your room but the front desk-clerk has long gone back to civilization. Now it’s just you, your not-exactly date and your new friends the Visigoths. Watch closely how your companion handles this. Does she demand that you “Do something!” even though you’ve just heard them kick down an outbuilding because they thought it was looking at them funny? Does he say wistfully, “If I had a gun...” leading you to believe that he has only two gears, using a gun and wishing he had a gun? Does he negotiate with them, offering them Clamato juice? The car? You? Does she wait until they’re defiling a tree and burn down their cabin? Trust me; you need to know these things.

Eventually, dawn arrives and the Visigoths fall asleep, possibly resting in preparation of a later marauding attack on the Boy Scout camp down the road. You both sneak out, but not before discovering the outlets in the cabin were installed during the Metric Outlet Great Leap Forward of 1975, thereby leaving everyone without a hair-dryer, forced to go into the world without product and a flattening brush. I’m making sure you both have all the information you need.

Next time, we finish our Marathon. Frankly, I'm having entirely too good a time torturing them, but I fear they could start invoking the Geneva Convention.