“But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.” -Jules
Violet’s collar popped right off. She realized she was loose within a split-second of when I did, too late for me to snatch at her neck. She took off towards the busy two-lane, and I shrieked. Redford was already back in the car, so I slammed the door and ran away from the road, in the direction of the field next to the gas station, knowing she’d follow. She did, but kept a wide berth—she wasn’t going to give up her new-found freedom that easily.
I called her and caller her, and she ran around sniffing the rural southern Virginia smells. People were driving really fast down the straightaway in front of the convenience store, and at one point, when she banked roadward, my pitch hit panic-level.
Just then, a man in a one-piece, zip-up, navy blue mechanic’s suit, long straight ponytail hanging down to his shoulder blades, face covered in a bushy beard, came striding toward me, arm outstretched. “I’ve got a chicken wing! Will that help?”
Yes, I said, thank you.
Violet was bowing and barking, dashing forward and sprinting away. The mechanic squatted and wagged the wing in her direction. She scurried up, snatched the wing out of his hand, and bolted. He looked at me and laughed.
“I’m sorry! She’s so naughty,” I said.
“That’s OK—I got another one,” he said, and headed back to his car.
This time, he peeled pieces of it off and tossed them to her. Violet would run up just close enough to gobble down the meat and then gallop away and bark playfully.
About that time, a yokel sauntered over, pushing his giant beer belly in front of him.
“How long yew had ‘at dawg?” he wheezed.
What did that matter? “Seven years,” I said.
“Yew had ‘at dawg sebb’m years, and hit won’t come to ye?”
“Not all the time,” I replied.
He lumbered back to the convenience store.
The mechanic and I spent another couple minutes tossing bits of dark meat to my obstreperous pit bull. Finally, she decided—as she does—that she’d had enough fun and ran up to me. “SIT,” I said, mean face on. She sat. I hitched her up. “Thank you so much,” I said to the mechanic and headed for the store. “Come on, let me buy you some chicken wings.”
“Naw, don’t you worry about that. I had a hot dog already. I’m just glad your dog didn’t run out in the road,” he replied. And he got in his two-door domestic and drove away.
I thought about the incident the rest of the day and in the moments before sleep that night. Maybe it was a “let everyone be your Buddha” situation, or perhaps some Being John Malcovich self-absorption, but I started pondering how I play each role of that scenario in my life.
Where am I Violet—playful but willful, and limited in my trust? Basically, whenever I have to deal with people.
Where am I me—thwarted, overwhelmed, paralyzed? Career.
Where am I the yokel, asking unhelpful questions and offering disempowering rhetoric? I don’t think I do this to others, but my entire inner monologue is unhelpful questions and disempowering rhetoric, particularly but not exclusively about being single.
“How old are you again?”
“You’re 38 years old, and you still don’t know how to find or maintain a romantic relationship?”
And where am I the guy with the chicken wing—open, helpful, generous?
I don’t know, but I’m going to try real hard to be that way.
See, that puppy just wants to be with her horsey best friend and even goes through the RAIN to say hi, and that hot rancher just keeps takin her back (sigh—ha ha), and the puppy lady is like *sorry about that*… *again*, and *hey, quit escapin under the fence!*, and then the puppy gets adopted and put in that fancy car, but that puppy is not a fancy car city type, she’s a *ranch dog*, and that Clydesdale does the horse equivalent of running through a crowded airport to stop a loved one from boarding a plane for that internship in Paris because it LOVES that puppy, and it jumps over that fence RIGHT AT THE SWELL OF THE SONG, and its posse is all *Yo back that ass up, city slicker*, and the city slicker’s like WHOA WTF, and the puppy goes back to the hot rancher and her horsey BFF, and I’ve watched it seven times.
OK, eleven times.
I don’t really talk to strangers much. Maybe because I have some social anxiety that prevents it. Maybe because I learned about Stranger Danger when I was kid—you remember: mustachioed guy with Mars bars offering rides home in his windowless van.
But one place I always found it easy to strike up conversations with people I didn’t know was the dog park. I used to go there all the time when my dogs were younger, and something about being in a fenced-in space watching these lovable beings running around, and slobbering, and pooping, makes people want to share with others about how their specific dog runs around, and slobbers, and poops.
So one day, I was chatting with a stranger—I’m sure—about the minutiae of our dogs’ bowel movements, when somehow we got off on a different topic. We started talking about creamsicles. You know what those are, right?
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid and I’d hear popsicles, I’d be like, “Ooooh!” but if they turned out to be creamsicles, I was all
Good god. They were the best.
Anyway, this particular stranger said, “You know, Arby’s has a creamsicle milkshake.”
Now I was at the dog park in Carrboro when this happened, and if you’ve ever been there, you know there’s an Arby’s, like, a quarter of a mile away. And I was like, Fuuuuuuuuuuuck this place—I’m out. I loaded up my dogs and headed for the drive-thru.
I wasn’t familiar with Arby’s menu—I mean, is anybody? Does ANYBODY go to Arby’s? Be honest, how many of you have been to Arby’s in the last month?
No, it’s definitely a nationwide drug front.
Anyway, I got some kind of sandwich and some fries—you know to balance out the meal—and the motherfucking creamsicle milkshake.
I only ate about half the sandwich and half the fries because they were just OK, but when I tell you the creamsicle milkshake… was a creamsicle milkshake—listen, it was a creamsicle… but also a milkshake. I was in dire ice cream headache pain but could not stop slurping it down. Thing was gone in 2½ minutes.
I lived in Hillsborough at the time, so I went home, dropped the dogs off, and headed to Durham to go out for the night. So I was on I-85 headed east when the stomach cramp hit me. It was one of those that makes you kind of stand up out of your seat, as if you might be able to get away from it?
And I was scared because I was on that stretch of highway between Hillsborough and Durham where there are no exits whatsoever. Hoping that the cramp was a one-off, I settled back into my seat, but alas. Alas! My guts started convulsing inside me. I hit the gas pedal. I needed to make it to Route 70, and I needed to do a very rude thing indeed to some poor gas station’s bathroom. I sped towards Durham, but it became VERY clear VERY soon that I was just not. going. to make it.
And that’s a weird moment, you know? When you realize that in a very short time you’re going to be a person who has shat in the woods next to the highway.
For the rest of your life.
You can’t un-become that person.
Forever and ever, if you find yourself in a game of I Never, and somebody says, “I’ve never dropped a roadside deuce,” you’re going to have to drink. It’s very humbling.
But I didn’t really have time to consider what was happening. I pulled off the interstate, grabbed some napkins from the Arby’s bag still in the front seat, and sprinted—as much as one can sprint while squeezing her ass cheeks together—into the woods.
Now I grew up in the country, just down yonder from Mr. Proffitt’s cattle farm, so I know of which I’m about to speak. When I say what came out of my body was a cowpie, I mean, in circumference, height, volume, consistency, everything—
’twas a cow pie.
Like, have you ever taken a shit so big that, when you stood up, you were off-balance? That’s how it was. Like all my organs had shifted to make room for it and now they had to slide back into place.
I staggered back to my car and made it home, and everything was totally fine—I didn’t end up in the ER or anything–but the take-away, of course, is that Stranger Danger is not always a dude in a van with candy. Sometimes it’s a friendly person at the dog park with advice about fast food.
A lot of people said,
“There’s probably another explanation.”
“Could anything else have happened to it?”
“Maybe it’s just misplaced.”
But it was in that box. Inside another box, in my closet, next to my socks. And my house has never been broken into. What other conclusion am I supposed to draw?
There isn’t any. Someone I know took my great grandmother’s engagement ring.
I filed a police report. Durham PD has a detective who does nothing but pawn shop investigations. He’s very good, I was told by a clerk at National Pawn as I peered into their jewelry case. The investigator asked for a photo. I didn’t have a photo. I drew a picture, added details from the 1998 appraisal I had in my files, and emailed it to him.
I haven’t heard anything.
I didn’t expect to, really. I can’t imagine a friend or acquaintance taking it for the money. I don’t have destitute people as guests in my home (though I don’t like what that says about me). Years ago, a woman in my therapy group shared about her shoplifting compulsion. It wasn’t that she needed to—she had plenty of money—and she clearly knew better, but she had a pathology. I assume it’s the same in this case.
Speaking of pathology, my mind is doing weird things.
The day after I wrote the last post, I let the dogs in and found myself standing at the door unable to move. I stared at the door jamb and, in the middle of the day on a Sunday with my two pit bulls at my feet in a house where I’ve never felt unsafe, flipped the lock on the knob and threw the deadbolt.
In a fit of “Do I really trust who I trust?”, I changed the password on all my protected blog posts.
And I keep having fantasies of the ring’s return. Of a friend coming to me, crying and sheepish, to confess. Of finding an anonymous package in my mailbox. Of the detective calling and saying, “It turned up at the Picasso on Roxboro and Club.” And yes, of finding it in my laundry basket and having to eat crow. I would gladly eat crow. But it’s not in my laundry basket. It would’ve had to slither out of the box, that was inside the other box, in my closet, next to my socks.
Maybe this experience hasn’t changed me. When a friend asked if he could invite two new acquaintances to my New Year’s Eve party, I said yes without any hesitation. Is that because I still believe in people, love people, want to know people? Or is it because I literally have nothing else to lose? There’s literally nothing else anyone could take from my house that means anything to me.
I guess that’s not true. If someone took the dogs, I’d lose my fucking mind.
So there’s that. I have my dogs.
Dogs are the best. They have so few pathologies.
I’ve been attempting to focus on the abundance in my life, rather than participating my usual Trance of Scarcity. The meditation (see Day 25) definitely helps, but I also thought I’d tweet one of those annoying 30 Days of Thankfulness things, except try to make it not-annoying.
The most difficult part was not coming up with things for which I felt grateful—I got plenty. The most difficult part was staying within 140 characters. You know how I like to babble on. The teacher of a writing workshop I took last year said, “You’ve got 25-30% too much fat.”
I was like, “DON’T I KNOW IT. Wait, you mean my writing?” He was right. I need to trim it down…
Arg! If I wanted to go on a word diet, I would’ve been a poet!
But I did it for thirty days. (NB: The following is not poetry. It’s just skinny prose.)
Day 1: 4 years ago today, my sister called me at 3am to ask if I could come watch her 2 kids bc her 3rd was rarin to come out. #thankful
— Avid Bruxist (@avidbruxist) November 2, 2013
That 4-year-old, man. She’s dramatic and sassy, she wants what she wants, and she’s in the 8th percentile for height. In other words, she’s me. Hahaha. No, she’s not. She’s her. She’s her own person. But kind of me. I yub her.
Day 2: 6 years ago, her cage had a sign that said “Cruelty/Confiscation” on it. My 5yo niece said, “You could name her Violet.” #thankful
— Avid Bruxist (@avidbruxist) November 2, 2013
This goes for both my parents. My parents showed the fuck up.
I’m still bad at crying (i.e., I need to do more of it and less eating/checking Facebook/self-flagellation/etc.), but I have good role models (namely, Cat, EJ, and Melissa).
(Typo: That was supposed to be Day 13.)
When the doc actually felt it, she goes—I shit you not, “Yeah, you got a lot of lumps and bumps, and this one doesn’t feel any different from the other ones.” :/
Also, if they do hate me as a result, that’s their own goddamn problem.
It’s a good job. I just wish I got paid more and didn’t have to deal with so much bullshit. I guess that’s everybody, right? Except I really should get paid more.
Every so often I consider it, dry-heave, and un-consider it.
I’m hosting the StorySLAM on December 11, folks! Come on out!
So, in today’s ironic news, when I need to unplug, I use an iPhone app. It’s called Get Some Headspace, and I highly recommend it. The dude who leads the meditation is a former Buddhist monk, and he sounds a tiny bit like the Geico Gecko so everybody wins.
Terrified of jinxing it, but there’s an amazing woman who has created a passion project, and we met, and it was awesome, and she’s invited me to be part of her team, and I hope I can keep up.
Day 29: I can watch 3 episodes of Breaking Bad in the middle of the day, bc I have the day off, I’m an adult, and I feel like it. #thankful
— Avid Bruxist (@avidbruxist) November 30, 2013
I watched 5 episodes of Game of Thrones in the middle of the day yesterday, true story.
— Avid Bruxist (@avidbruxist) November 30, 2013
As you can see, I’m thankful for a lot of things, including those of you who’re reading. Happy rest-of-your-holidays!
So Sharknado! I KNOW—internet-ancient, but I’ve been busy.
This movie came out two months ago, to much flapping of cyberhands, as possibly the best worst TV movie of all time, and it doesn’t disappoint, which of course means it does disappoint but in the pleasingest of ways.
[Ed. note: As usual, spoilers. I spoil the whole movie.]
No burying the lede—we have a sharknado within the first seconds of screen time!
We are 20 miles off the coast of Mexico. A fisherman cuts a shark’s fin. Something gross is in a bowl. An Asian man in a business suit eats it; “Good. Not great,” he says.
Captain Santiago says, “Ha ha ha,” and then SLAMS his hand against the table/offers up a menacing look. Unspoken dialogue is in brackets.
Asian businessman: “[This part of the movie has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the movie, but] $100,000.”
Captain Santiago: “1 million.”
AB: “Five hundred thousand.”
CS: [“Here, take a look at my gun.”]
AB: “We have a deal.”
CS: “[Apropos of nothing,] we shouldn’t be afraid of the shark. They should be afraid of us.”
AB: [“We’re both going to find some irony in that statement in 3… 2…”]
Waves crash over the boat. A shark hits the deck and eats a seaman. Seaman—ha ha.
CS and the AB have a shootout. Both get et.
Scene change: Beach! Girls in bikinis! And Ian Ziering’s character, Fin (yes, FIN, in a fucking shark movie) is surfing. He’s surfing in the way that Nick Cannon plays the snare in Drumline, i.e., separate shots of his face with brows furrowed and of his headless body totally shredding, dude.
Cut to Fin’s beachside restaurant and bar. A Dirty Old Man, played in a departure by that guy that always plays the grizzled cop, grabs the Waitress’s ass. You know the guy I’m talking about.
DOM: “What’s that scar [that looks like a shark bite] on your leg?
Waitress: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Back in the ocean, a girl surfer gets et. Wow, the shark really takes its time with her.
Fin’s Australian buddy, AJ, scoots up on a jet ski. He almost loses his leg to a shark, but Fin beans it with his surfboard.
Back on shore, Fin calls his ex-wife played by Tara Reid, whose expression throughout this whole movie is the one I have when my brother-in-law tries to explain how faxing works to me.
A shark comes through the restaurant window. Waitress impales the shark with a pool cue, and DOM finishes it off with a bar stool to the noggin. Moar window-shark! AJ and Fin do the classic shark-killing alley-oop (toss air tank into mouth/shoot tank with shotgun).
Everybody’s real calm during the wide shots of this movie. Like window-sharks are an annoyance, Mormons at the door, rather than a crazy deal.
The sharknado passes, and Fin looks at his wrecked bar, perturbed. Probably thinking about how he should’ve gotten that sharknado rider on his insurance policy.
The gang hits the shark-flooded streets to go check on Ex-Wife and Daughter. They make lots of jokes about California roads/traffic, which I’m sure are funny to some people.
On the way, the crew gets out of the car to help people. DOM bashes the window of a car in which a stupid lady locked her dog. Then, because no good deed goes unpunished, he gets et. The rest of the gang watches it happen like this:
The gang minus DOM arrives at Ex-Wife’s house. Fin: “Will you let us in?” Ex-Wife says no, her new boyfriend is there. A shark comes hurtling through the air, and Waitress skeet-shoots it. OK then, says Ex-Wife.
New Boyfriend is a jerkface. Don’t be a jerkface, New Boyfriend. Things don’t end well for jerkfaces in B movies. The house fills with water! A shark swims in and eats Jerkface (natch). Fin attempts to kill the shark by pinning it to a wall with a chest of drawers. Amazingly, his plan fails, and Waitress unloads the shotgun into it.
Ex-Wife tells Fin they need to go get Son, who’s in flight school.
Waitress: “You have a son too?”
Me: That’s how I feel. He has a son too?
head_of_fema: I think this movie is kind of like improv. Just say ‘yes and’.
They head out to find a SCHOOLBUSFUL OF CHILDREN under a bridge!
Naturally, Fin has repelling equipment in the car which he uses to save all the kids and the bus driver, despite the fact that the bus driver has a goatee but no mustache, an offense which clearly merits death by shark. No, the movie producers decided to wait for the double-whammy of Excessive Celebration/Bad Joke for the bus driver to get et. I guess the important thing is he doesn’t get away with the goatee but no mustache.
I got bored in here so I forget how they lose their car, but they lose their car and jack a Hummer with a nitrous button, which I guess is like hyperspace for Hummers.
The gang arrives at the flight school and finds the class hidden in a room. The instructor breaks B-movie Rule #79 (Don’t walk away from the group) and gets sucked through the roof by another sharknado. Fin then holds the door shut against the storm. He’s very strong.
The Son, who is a Super-Handsome Cleft-Chinned Gay Man, says they should fly a helicopter into the sharknado and drop a bomb into it.
Waitress explains to SHCCGM that she’ll go too because when she was little, her grandpa got et by a shark. “That’s why I really hate sharks.”
SHCCGM: “Now I really hate sharks too.”
These two lovebirds fly off in the chopper, while Fin chainsaws sharks out of the sky and blows up a retirement home’s pool with gasoline.
Before they can bomb the sharknado, Waitress falls out of the chopper and INTO A SHARK! The helicopter starts to falter. SHCCGM lands it safely then passes out, but it’s OK because his dad slaps him on the face.
It’s up to Fin to save the day! He drives the Hummer toward the storm, sets the bomb, presses the hyperspace button, and jumps out. The Hummer blows up the ‘nado. Sharks rain down.
Daughter (oh yeah, I forgot she’s in this movie) is oblivious to the shark headed her way.
Fin tells her to move, pull-starts the chainsaw, and jumps chainsaw-first into the shark.
Ex-Wife is all
But then the shark’s gut starts to pulsate, and it’s Fin! Cutting himself out of the shark! Not only that, he yanks the Waitress, unscathed by the chainsaw, out of the hole as well. She’s coated in viscous blood. SHCCGM gives her mouth-to-mouth.
She coughs/wakes up. “I really hate sharks.”
In case you’re taking notes, things to have on hand in the event of a sharknado:
- surf board
- pool cue/bar stool
- air tank/shotgun
Thing not to bother with:
- chest of drawers
You’ve been informed. Prepare ye.
Fin and Tara Reid’s face get back together. The End.