Friday, January 19, 2018

Dog Ears, Not The Page Kind

It was my turn to pick up Pat at the plastic surgery clinic. Either that or short straws were involved.

"Hi, Gregory," Pat said. He was in a wheelchair, wearing pajamas and green Crocs. "Thanks for picking me up."

"Sure. As long as we decline some nouns along the way."

His left armpit was black. The surgery had been to take out his "dog ears." He had flanking flaps of flesh, remnants of his breasts, and he wanted them taken off.

"Dog ears gone?" I said.

"Yep. This was my seventh surgery for this. Dad was yelling at me the whole way here. He's tired of this, and I'm even more tired of it."

I helped him to my car. Then I drove him to his parent's house. Pat was dreading having to deal with parents for the next several days as he recovered.

"My mom is probably crying because she didn't get to ruin my day."


"Yeah, she wanted Coit to come and replace the blinds in my room. Can you believe it? Just as I'm there recovering from surgery. She did it just to ruin my day. That's what she does. She could have done it for the last several years, but no, she had to chose today to do it. But I foiled her. I pretended I was Dad on the phone and canceled the appointment. She's going to be so disappointed when Coit doesn't show up to make my life hell. Ha, ha."

"Heh, heh."

"But I'm sick of this. There are 38 endocrinologists in the area and not one will see a transgender like me. It's out of prejudice, nothing more. But because I can't see an endocrinologist, my hormones are not in the right ratio. Too much estrogen or testosterone, and everything is thrown off. So that's why we get my breasts cut off, and then they grow back like mushrooms!"


"I'm sure Mom is going to make my life hell. She's always like this when I come back from surgery."

The conversation turned from one mother to another. I told Pat that Mom was very anxious about my search for her birth parents.

"Does your Mom masturbate?"


[After calling Google to have my dots replenished]

"No, she doesn't. I mean, uh............."

"I understand. I just wondered what she did to relieve stress."

"I think she does jumbo word searches. Does that count?"

"Ha, ha-- oof." Pat winced. His dog ears were barking at him.

"Are you okay?"


"Anyway, the latest finding is that Mom is related to a woman whose mother was also adopted, and they nothing about her birth parents. My mom was born in 1941 and this woman's mom was born in 1945. It could be that, since we're related through DNA, that the woman gave up at least two children for adoption, four years apart. Mom was appalled when I told her. She doesn't like her mom already."

"That didn't take long."

"By the end of this, she might need the superduper jumbo word search. Ha, ha?"

We arrived at Pat's parent's. He smiled at me and lifted his armpit.

"Arf!" he said.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Gummo, the Funniest of the Marx Brothers

Mom called after my gum surgery. I had just taken a Percocet and things seemed really really super.

"Are you okay? Do you want me to get you anything at the store?"


"Greg! Do you hear me? What's wrong? Do you want me to call an ambulance?"

"Gabba nnn ffllssh."

"Okay. Stay right there. I'm coming for you!"

"Mom! I'm just kidding. I think."

"That's not funny. How are you feeling?"

"I'm okay. They cut out a cute little ribeye from my palate and then sewed it to the front of my gums. The stitches don't come out until next week. In the meantime I have to wear this cone around my neck so I don't scratch at it."

"That's a good boy."

In my Percodaze I then told Mom about the huge TV monitor of someone's teeth in the periodontist's office. Two rows of teeth from every angle. They were really ugly--and then I realized they were mine. The nurse put a bib on me to catch the blood, while the periodontist planted her foot in my chest and sawed away. There was another periodontist there who wanted to watch. They paused to admire my gums on the HD 4K screen.

"Oh, this band is lovely. That pocket has a nice radial bicuspid axiomandible."

"Doesn't it? I worked on the traverse band, leaving the suture on the maxiplantiocruxio cud."

"So nice. I looove what you did with these..."

I was not asked, but I had to join in.

"My gums are a 10, aren't they? I'm going to the bar after this to show off my gums. Hello, ladies. Take in my axial plandiferous tissue! Ha, ha."

"Nurse, strap the patient down, please."

But, hey, it's not just to show off for the ladies, it's also to avoid my teeth winding up like a circus holocaust of dental failure.

"You shouldn't take all those Percocets," came Mom's faraway voice. "You'll become addicted."

After the surgery I went to Walgreen's to score my fix and update my drug slang. The place was packed with a Felliniesque cavalcade of freaks and feebs, and the line to our dealer was long, man. I was starting to sweat, and not in the sexy Tom Jones way. The guy ahead of me was holding some gauze to his bloody chin, while the guy ahead of him was arguing about the price of his Zoloft. He kept bouncing around on his slippers. I started scratching at my sweaty head. Spiders were, like, crawling all over me. The crab nebula was slinking around my testicles.

"You need rest," Mom's interstellar voice said.

I grunted. Threw water on my face. And then labored to put some coherent sentences together.





"Oh. Oh. Wait. Okay. There was something I wanted to tell you. Oh yeah. I wanted to tell you I talked to the archaeologist. He seems to think he can find your birth mother. For a price."

"The archaeologist?"

"Did I say archaeologist? I meant genealogist. Mmmpgh."

"What in the world are you talking about?"

"It turns out they never needed Dad's DNA, just ours. But it's weird that Dad's came back with no results both times. I mean, I think he might be a lizard person."

"I knew that."

"But isn't this exciting? You'll get to find out who your mom is!"

"I don't like it." Pause. "But then, she's probably dead by now."

"Right. I'd hate for you to be subjected to an awkward scene. I'll bring your 106 year old mom to Perkins, and there you'll be, wondering if you should hug the wizened crone or just politely shake her hand. Or you'll just scream MOMMY! Now that I think about it, that would be awkward for all of us."

"Just tell me you're going to get some rest. You're not making any sense."

"Wait." Pause. "Okay, I'm back."

"What were you doing?"



Friday, January 5, 2018

Full Christmas Jacket

After the waiter took our order, Mom leaned across the table.

"You can tell he's a player," she said.

"A player? You mean, like, for a football team?"

"You know what I mean."

"I actually want no part of knowing what you mean."

"You can tell he's the type of man who goes out with a lot of women."

"How can you tell that?"

"You can just tell. Why aren't you wearing the jacket I got you?"

"Which one? You got me three for Christmas."

"I told you what happened. I bought you one last year and decided to give it to you this year instead. But then I forgot I had it, and then I bought the two for this year, and then I found the third one. If you don't like them I suppose you can just throw them in the trash."

"Instead I think I'll open my own outlet store."

"I hope you like them."

"Sure I do, Mom. And here, I took this home accidentally."

"What is it?"

"It's the gift Chris and Cinira got for you."

"I don't want it."

"Why not? They thought it was funny. You hate Trump, so they thought you..."

"It says Trump on it?"


"Oh, I thought it was just something nasty. I thought they were just laughing at me."

"Right. Laughing about how you need to use toilet paper. Boy, you really interpret things negatively."

"Well, I don't want it."


Our food came, served by the player. He winked at Mom.


"Mm. Anyway, as I was saying about Star Wars, when George Lucas first started writing Star Wars he was influenced by Joseph Campbell, and also Jungian depth psychology which in turn, ergo, was problematical for--"

"You know who you sound like right now? Your father."

"Dad doesn't know anything about film."

"I know that. You just sound like him in how you're speaking right now. You know, when you were three days old, and I was bringing you home from the hospital, your father only wanted to talk about Ayn Rand. Here you were, a beautiful baby, and he was just going on and on, just like you now."

We ate. I got the check, and as we prepared to leave I mentioned that I would be working a lot since several people would be out for the holidays. Mom shook her head.

"Oh! That's terrible. It's always you the burden falls on, isn't it? You're just like me. Always the doormat for everyone else."

"So let me see if I understand this. When I talk like Dad, it's bad. When I act like you, it's sad. It's hard to win."

"Yes!" Mom said, pleased. She nodded. "It's hard to win."

"And with that..."

As we left, the waiter was talking to an old lady by the bar. Mom gave me a significant look.

"Your mother is always right, isn't she?"

"Yes, Mom," I said, with infinite weariness.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Last Straw

Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than to give up on life? Having done so, I then proceeded to see the new Star War. Right off I'll admit that by far the best scene was when everyone got scrunched together and faced different, interesting directions. Because of the Force. Also, they shrunk Chewbacca down to fit on Leia's shoulder. What a great, compositionally balanced scene that was.

The rest of the movie is a pile of Wookiee leavings. I don't know what Wookiees leave, exactly, but it's probably not good. Also not good is Carrie Fisher's acting.

"I can't act my way out of my own casket." 
(Come on, she would have loved a joke like that. R-right?)

Helpfully, the movie has bad guys who favor dark colors. I guess their future is so bright that have to build stuff in shades?

"Wait, is that a step here? Careful. Whoa,
let me test this... Shit, everything is so black!"

Then there are the good guys. They are lighter in tone but not smarter in brains.

"I-I can't see anything!"
"It's because your eyes are closed!"
"Oh, right...."

The movie masterfully cuts back and forth between different scenes. For instance, sometimes we're here, other times we are elsewhere. Then in a third place (!) Kylo Ren buys a dark new condo and contemplates the view.

"My HOA meets every third Tuesday.
Heh heh, can't wait."

The movie then zips to the red light district where Wookiees get to sample very tiny Thai women, or so is my understanding of this random image I loaded.

"Just don't get it in my eyes, carpet boy."

Meanwhile, Supreme Commandant Leia sends postcards from the galaxy's edge asking for rates on acting classes. No one answers.

"Where's that collagen-injecting droid I ordered?" 

Just when it seems all is lost for the bad guys, they hire Marilyn Manson to take over the condo association. Everyone is ordered to pick up after their Wookiees, please.

"Must... not..... break into
maniacal laughter. Nnnggh."

Back in another place, Luke Skywalker realizes he left his wallet in his other Jedi robe. He hates it when that happens.

"Wait, did you say all mattresses are fifty percent off??"

In the end, the movie meanders quite a lot before settling on the main interest: Nien Nunb. He saves the galaxy and brings the Kung Pao chicken everyone was craving!! A perfect ending!!!

"Help! I can't breathe in this thing!!"

Friday, December 22, 2017

Foam Born Screaming Queens

Walter Weiner came into the library. He was our origami specialist, something every good library has. He was there to finish making origami ornaments for the Christmas tree (Winter Intermission Bush for those with tender feelings).

"Hi, Greg," Walter said. His face was lumpy, with what looked like pastrami packed in his cheeks. "Here's an ornament for you."

"Oh, thanks, Walter." I took the delicate Drummer Boy ornament he'd made. It put me in mind of the song: a rumpa pum pum... Heh, heh. Great stuff.

"I'm off to do some decorating!" he sang.

Todd watched him. He turned to me.

"What?" I said.

"You know what I'm thinking," he said, beardfully.

I sighed. In order to divert the ineluctable topic, I told a joke. An origami one.

"So what's the difference between origami and Ronald Reagan?"


"One is a folding art, and the other is an olding fart."

Todd looked back at Walter Weiner. He was doing some mad origami--his hands were fast as lightnin'.

"I wish these screaming queens would just come out of the closet already."

"But he's married," I said, tiredly.

"He's smokin' pole all day long."

Behind us, a shelver left a cart in the entryway.

"I hate it when they do that," Todd said, looking around.

"What? Why?"

"Because if there's an active shooter, I want to get away fast. These carts are in the way!"

"Yes, I can see it now. Some maniac comes in with an automatic weapon--you leap off your chair, and then fall over a cart. There you lie, and some punk pops a cap in your beard. Your body lies riddled with bullet holes beside the fatal cart, your arms outstretched with white gloves... Sad, really."

Jonah came over. "What are you two jokers talking about?"

"For your information, I'm a very serious person," I said, with jowls. "But if you must know, we were talking about the ASC."


"The Active Shooter Corridor. That's where we'll all egress during a shooting."

Jonah brushed back his Jesus locks. "Actually, if there's an active shooter I want to be the hero. I'll crawl around the floor and then smash his skull in with Phenomenology of Spirit."

"Ugh. Wouldn't Being and Time work just as well?"

Walter Weiner came over to borrow a pair of origami scissors.


Walter Weiner went back to the tree. Todd frowned.

"Look, he's not gay," I said. "He has a wife. Haven't you met her?"

"Dude, he folds paper. How more homo can you get??"

"Are you saying a straight man can't have effeminate traits?"


"What about a woman? If she has masculine traits?"

"She's a carpet licker."

"What if the guy subscribes to Esquire?"

"Lots of straight men get Esquire. D-don't they?"

Karen came over and busted up our parliamentary debate. She wanted to make sure everyone got their fifteen dollar gift cards--our Christmas gift from the city.

I jumped up. "WOOOOWEEEE. Fifteen dollars. Watch out, town! I'm about to live it up like F. Scott and Zelda!!"

"I think your references need some updating," Jonah said not unlike the Nazarene.

Karen then yelled at us about how awful men were. She had faced out only women in the biography section, and made sure that I saw it.

"I'm sick of men," Karen said.

We stared at her.

"Not you guys." She laughed hoarsely, insanely.

She retreated to her office.

"And what about her?" I said. "Sick of men? Eh? Seems a bit masculine with the cowboy boots and the punches on the arm."



"No. She's just straight up cracker pants," Todd said.

"Ah! A new gender is born!"

Friday, December 15, 2017

Miscounting the Chicken Salad

On my flight to New York I was given the choice of chicken salad or tandoori chicken. I opted for the tandoori. The lady next to me, a rather unpleasant old bird, wanted the chicken salad.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, we're out of the chicken salad. Would you like the tandoori?"

"No. I want the chicken salad."

"I'm sooooo sorry," said the attendant. "We don't have it. They miscounted, and we only had five."

"I don't understand. I'm seated in the second row, how can you have run out?"

"We have an assortment of cheese boxes or snack offerings?"

"I want the chicken salad."

"We just don't have it, ma'am. Would you like anything else?"

"Just fill my bottle with water."

I begin this post with an anecdote to illustrate that cranky old women sure are delightful... I mean, that we don't always get what we want. On those lines, I was going to New York to get published.

"This time I know I'll get famous," I said to the pilot. "And quick."

"Get back in the cabin, sir."

The next morning I took the subway to Union Square and proceeded to get extremely lost. But, knowing myself quite Socratically, I had left with plenty of time beforehand and so arrived at the query letter clinic just as it started. There were about two hundred breathless, wanna-be writers packed into the room, and for the class two beings of pure light (agents) sat to bequeath judgment upon the various query letters that were read aloud. To get your query read you had to raise your hand, wave it, and bellow like an elephant cow. I declined, deeming the whole thing rather unbefitting for someone as unpublished as myself. After an hour of that, I felt very depressed and had a sundae in front of the Judas Priest signed-and-framed napkin at the Times Square Hard Rock Cafe. After using the napkin on my fudge-ringed mouth, I returned to the conference.

At four o'clock was the agent "speed dating." My first date was slated at 4:32. I was to have eight minutes--a bell was cheerily chimed when a minute was left, and then a Zulu death gong was smashed to signal the end of your dreams.

As people sat down in seventeen pairs, the room became thunderously loud. Everyone started braying and yelling and waving their arms. Four sessions, and then it was my turn.

I sat down across from my first agent. She thought my idea, and my existence, was ridiculous. As I sweatily pitched my idea like Willy Loman on Provolone, I felt my face prickle. I was bombing. Ring-a-dingle-ding! Time was almost over.

"Oh! Uh! Um! It's a neat book, a novel for people of all ages," I shouted and gesticulated, "and my mom really liked it--!"


The horror, the horror.

I was then on the sideline, listening to the old feller in the black beret (pictured far right) tell the sweetie in front of me about his book that concerned a talking pie for some reason. I brooded for an hour, thinking of just leaving as it was all more painful than I had been expecting (which says a lot). But then my turn with the second, and final, agent came. I sat across from a thin, pale woman in her thirties. Her body language said, PLEASE DIE.

"You must be exhausted," I said.

"I'm all right."

"Anyway, my book is about..."

"I'mma stop you there. Let me ask you, if you were in a Barnes & Noble, where would you shelve your book?"

"Well," I said, "I used to work at Barnes & Noble. So... in Fiction and Literature."

This led to a dyspeptic debate about what was "literature." The conclusion: my book was emphatically not.

"Sorry," said Agent Two, "it's just not for me."

"Okay, thanks." I stood up, looked around, tried to see where to thread my way back through the shouting people.

"Oh, Greg?"


"Please die."


Back in Denver I was singing Wham! in the shower and just as I was finishing I heard some shouts and bestial roars. I turned off the water. The shouts were definitely from inside my apartment. I knew that Xcel Energy was coming that day to force me to be energy efficient (stupid Obama), but I had been hoping they wouldn't come while I was stark naked in the shower. When I came out, I assumed they were downstairs, but.... no. Three dudes were in my bedroom. I held the towel where it needed to be held (over my nips).

"Why aren't you some sexy ladies?" I said.

"Sometimes you get the chicken salad," said the dude dressed in overalls and a greasy beard. "And sometimes the chicken salad gets miscounted."

"Hey, that's really good. Have you thought about attending a writer's conference? Or wearing a black beret....?"

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Snobby Older Brother

Pat interrupted our Latin lesson and looked at me with moist fondness.

"I like you, Greg, because you're not the type of person that would fart on my head."

"Yes, that's one of my distinguishing qualities."

Pat was talking about his older sister. Who was a head-farter, apparently.

"I used to pray, seriously, for an older brother. Someone who didn't give me nougies or fart on me. You're like the older brother I always wanted."

I declined to tell him that such behavior was not necessarily limited to one gender--but, in the spirit of the times, I accepted his compliment.

"Anyway, here."

He handed me a Wheelock's Latin, which was wonderfully, shockingly relevant... until he explained he wanted me to take it home with me. Inside were ten crisp one-hundred dollar bills tucked in the pages.

"Okaay," I said. I flipped the pages. Latin, Latin, Benjamin, Latin, Benjamin, Latin..... "And you want me to...?"

"I trust you. Just leave it at home with you. I'm hiding the money from my parents, and I'll come by to get it in an emergency if I need to leave suddenly."

Later, Wheelock's in tow, I saw my mom and brother as we were buying Mom a deluxe mattress. In the course of our mercantile adventure, we drifted into a discussion of my other brother, who we will call... Markadoodle, to hide his identity. And his difficult marriage to... Deneanabooby. They have two children, Orangejello and Lemonjello. Anyway, Deneanabooby had suffered a recent health setback, and Markadoodle was struggling with all the household chores, etc.

"It's getting to be like Stockholm Syndrome," I said. My line thudded with Downy softness, just like our bodies on the beds at American Furniture Warehouse. "Yeah?..."

Blank looks.

"Do you know what Stockholm Syndrome is?"

Chrisadingle extended the blankness of his look.

Mom nodded. "I know what it means," she said.

I turned on Mom. "All right, what does it mean?"

Mom looked scared. "Er... Why don't you tell him?"

I pushed up my glasses and delivered a lecture on the meaning of the phrase.

Mom nodded. "Yes!" she said. "It's like the Manchurian Candidate."

"Uh... maybe?"

On our way back we drove past a memorial sign.

"They misspelled get's," I said. "How embarrassing. They erect this sign by the road and they misspell a word. If you're going to take the trouble to make a sign, at least spell it right! We had that in China when we visited. They had so many mangled English signs."

"But it's in China," Mom said. "Don't be a snob."

"I'm not being a snob. Some of the signs were literally engraved in stone. Some were huge banners. Before you commit yourself to immortal stone you should take a few minutes to consult with an English speaker to make sure you get it right!"

"Oh, you're a snob. Stop being a snob."

"I'm not being a snob. I'm just saying that China had all sorts of mangled Engrish signs everywhere. And the government was embarrassed by it."

"But they're in China," Mom persisted. "You can't expect them to know good English. I think you're being a snob. Stop being a snob."

Chrisadingle chimed in. "Yes, Mom's right. You're a snob, Greg."

Cinirabingbong also rang in. "Snob! You are a SNOB."

I sunk down in my seat. "At least Pat likes me," I muttered.

And with that I jumped out of the car, rolled, and then ran to the nearest theater for THE DISASTER ARTIST--the favored entertainment of snobs everywhere!