Yesterday it was sunny and hot, maybe close to 90 degrees with a decent breeze, low humidity, felt FABULOUS. I wait all year for this, so I get a little giddy when it finally arrives and some cloud is not pissing on me. I went down to the marina to drink a yummy pineapple-mango-coconut smoothie and do a little people watching from a bench overlooking the lake. It was a cornucopia of visual delights, in many different ways. So, imagine me, on the bench, the tiny gray brown beach to my right, marina with bobbing big boats to my left, and a fair expanse of grass and a walkway ahead of me just in front of the water. Everyone was out. Here are a few of the Everyones:

  • The Obviously European Fashion Boys. If I had a hunnerd bucks on me, and if I had found a dumby willing to bet against me, I would’ve have bet and WON that these three dudes were not American, Canadian, or some other such mutt-like people. No, I think Italian, like Milan or Florence Italian. Perfectly-gelled spiky expensive haircuts, very thin and tall with a fashionable amount of fitness applied, premium denim, carefully and evenly rolled at the bottom with wide, flat cuffs to avoid lake wetting. No American dude is gonna roll their pants like that, no way, you kidding me? They were evenly tanned, sported some light jewelry, and had on black or white button-down shirts with the short sleeves further carefully and evenly rolled to expose the correct amount of bicep. My gaydar went off on one of them, but I could not be sure. He might have been just extra-incredibly European.
  • The Obviously European Guido-Type Boys (+ Their Girlies): Italian or Greek, the nemeses of the OEFB above. They had serious slow STRUT going on in their board shorts and no shirt thing. Steroids seem to have been ingested, and they had that crab-like roll to their gaits. Their jewelry was significantly heavier, as their muscles could clearly handle a fence-chain or two. They had bagged two hotties, too: one a reedy blonde in a black bikini, the other a slightly more buxom girl with long black hair, who tottered on what looked like 5” heels. Both the girls had on quite the makeup, and carried those incredibly large purses with all kinds of studs and jewels and buckles and other adornments that let you know it is well worth the $1250.00. In one of the McMansion totes was a Chihuahua. OF COURSE, you say. But this Accessory Dog was so small that it could have stood and pooped out its rabbit pellets in my hand. I stared at it, and imagined that it could well be a kitten, or a wingless bat, or a rather large spider from a tropical jungle. After a short time, the Totterer stuffed KittenBatSpider into her bag, and the four of them slowly crabbed off to one of the boats tied at the closest dock. I felt pretty sure a rousing game of canasta and a few ice-cold cans of Sprite were in their evening plans.
  • The Notably-Fit MILF: Maybe the hottest girl on the beach that day, and there were some very nice looking wimminz. She was tiny, maybe 5’2” or so, and maybe 100 pounds. She had short brownish hair, was deeply tanned, and wore a small bikini top with a pair of low-rise jean Capri pants and chunky heels. Not an ounce of jiggle on her, oh no. Her arms, back, and legs were toned and muscles and damn if she didn’t have six-pack abs. I saw that she had a couple of kids, looked to be in her mid-30s. I bow to you, ma’am, as I know how hard you have to work to get and keep that body. Well, I imagine I know, because I would never get that body even if I did devote my life to obtaining it. The only thing that was not attractive about her were the giant veins on her forearms and hands, like our workout pal, Madonna. I wondered if that bothered her much, but I bet it didn’t.
  • The Old Dude/Filipino Bride Combo: Holy man. Holding hands down the walkway, we have a big guy in a polo shirt and shorts, with the whole black socks/white tennis shoes thing going on. He must have been in his upper 60s if not his 70s. His paramour also had on extremely high heels (is this proper beach footwear? am I missing something? ah, well.) and had a great deal of difficulty walking as her feet shifted awkwardly in them. I was waiting for an ankle turn at any moment. My eyes where drawn up from her feet to legs, as I imagine everyone else’s were. She was wearing thigh-high sheer stockings, with the dark brown tops of the stockings very visible, uncovered by her very very very very short flippy black skirt. Her shirt was ruched with many ties and sported a giant bronzy-gold metallic cat design with the words “I’M A PUSSYCAT” on it. Her black hair was long and permed into ringlets, and she wore massive black sunglasses with the Chanel logo on the stems. It was almost impossible to tell her age, but it seemed as though she had tottered around the block a few times. They made a most interesting couple, and I was glad for their love.
  • The Adorable Little Boy: There are always lots and lots of cute kiddies at the beach, ploching around in the muck, meeting the various dogs that come by, giggling when a speedboat wave finally makes it their way and knocks them over. But this little guy caught my eye. He was about six or so in a green and white rash guard. He was quiet and spent most of his time gathering up some precious rocks, glancing at his father every so often. He had long, almost shoulder length dark chocolate brown hair, and a face that would turn seriously handsome in another ten or fifteen years. Sometimes you see children like this; when I was doing children’s portraits my eye got trained to see them, the ones that would grow to be beauties. I wondered sometimes, would that beauty be spoiled someday just by their knowing it? Sometimes that happens too. And often the more interesting photo subject is not at all classically good-looking, but you are able to bring out what is wonderful and lovable and unique in them.
I could have sat there well into the evening, but I had to go. I did not get sunburned, I finished the yummy smoothie, and flat-sandalled my way home.


Alright, so yes I am realizing that I may have an obsession with jeans. I don't think by any means that I am the only woman to have this quirk, oh no, not by a long shot. I've seen magazine pictorials of the closets of Hollywood starlets, oh yes I have, and their closets have nothing but jeans and shoes. JEANS, rows and rows of JEANS. I am not alone.

Jeans are the ultimate test garments in a woman's life -- even more so than wedding gowns or swimsuits. With the wedding gown, you try on about 50 of them then give up and pick one that makes you feel the most princess-like, even if you, LIKE ME, really looked like someone threw up a projectile mess of Belgian lace all over you. The trying on and buying of the swimsuit is like attending a funeral. You must go and pay your respects to the 3-way mirror, but in the end you must bury your dear friend, your TOTAL SELF-ESTEEM. You invest in a decent cover-up garment and scurry with it and the swimsuit out of the department store in grief.

But jeans, you have a relatively decent chance of getting a pair that makes you look BETTER THAN YOU DO. This takes great determination and effort, but it can be done. I have been on this quest since puberty, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't. I have spent many years in jeans, admittedly bought styles that were in fashion that were deeply unflattering. I know better now. Or I think I do. Maybe in another 10 years I will decide that everything I wore looked horrible and just go for the burka. But for now, I am still all about the jeans.

Not for me: the high-waisted jean. For one, I am not terribly tall at 5'4", and am short-waisted to begin with. The high-waisted jean pretty much hits me at the ribs and plooches out my stomach. Lovely. Not for me: the tapered-leg jean. This style highlights saddlebags almost magically. Actually, they flatter no one. Ditch yours today. Not for me: the jeans that are so long, no heel high enough can be worn to make them work. I am right on the cusp of buying average or petite clothes. Some petite jeans are too short, some average are too long. I will generally go for the too-long, only to get home and realize that no matter what I do they are still too long and look silly. I am also too lazy to hem them. Sewing LOL.

After the jeans win of yesterday, I went to my closet. There, folded neatly, was the last pair of SAVED JEANS -- a well-worn pair of faded Guess jeans that I haven't even bothered to try on in many, many years. I kept them because they were cool and kind of unique, and had a nice memory associated with them. About a year after I had my first baby, a hard year with all that adjustment, physical and mental and logistical and such, I put him in his awesome leopard-print-and-black Combi stroller and went in search of pants that were not elastic waist. As I searched the racks of jeans, Baby Boy stretched out his chubby fingers to grab the pants and happily attempted to eat a pair or two. I found the Guess pair, eyed them up, checked the Euro sizing, and wheeled us into the fitting room. As Baby Boy watched with his giant blue orbs and squirmed in his seat, I tried the jeans on. They fit beautifully, and I actually put my fist in the air and said YES! They were $54.00, and worth three times that to me.

Today, I put them on again, almost 16 years later.

They fit, but differently. My body has changed, even though I weigh less than I did on the day I bought them. My stomach is poofier, hips more rounded, butt flatter via the years and two more pants-chewing babies that arrived. I look at myself in the mirror. They are tapered-leg. Shit! I smile, take them off, re-fold them, and put them on a pile of clothes to go to Goodwill. They aren't magic anymore, and it is time to let them go. Bye bye, Guess jeans, I will always remember you fondly.

I pull on the jeans I bought yesterday, and go downstairs to start the laundry.


Someone told me my home burnt to the ground
All that was left was fine gray ash
I see it and I don’t believe it
A tiny neat pile of future and past

The house where I live still stands
Just as it was, the house still stands

I feel the ashes soft through my fingers
I rub some into my skin
I try to build something from them
And they fall, useless, once again

My house, it stands, as though nothing had changed
It stands behind me, as though nothing had changed

The fire raged around me, through me, left me to wonder
Left me to wonder, what should I see
I can’t see past where my home used to be
My house, it still stands, and never calls out to me

I’m a builder of things and I have no tools
I’m a dreamer of dreams with fitful, restless sleep
I’m a dancer who dances around the bright fire
I stare at the ashes, my home, incomplete.


I decided to go back to Marshall’s today to do battle with a pair of jeans that denied me a couple of months ago. Back then I had eyed them up, and a sharp, good eye I have in these bargain stores, and I had thought, “Yes, I think I can do this. Imma gonna try ‘em on.” I felt sure that my visual perception was RIGHT ON, and that the jeans would not give me a minute of trouble. So I trot back into the fitting room, shut the door, take off my current jeans, and start to put on these new ones. OH. UH. UM. OOF. They made it as far as the hips, and then no amount of re-positioning, tugging, sucking in, or pushing pockets down would get that bastard zipper to close. I was more upset that my unerring fit eye let me down than that I would not be buying the jeans. Irritated, I got dressed and handed them back to the smiling teenaged fitting room girl and spent a few minutes pouting my fail.

Down some pounds since, I went to find the jeans this morning. There they were. Clearly, others had been denied as well. I held them up, eyed them again with a burning relentless truth, and I decided YES, and put them in my blue shopping cart with a messed-up wheel. I found a pair of black shorts, a pair of plaid shorts, a couple of shirts, a black dress and headed to the fitting room. Now or never.

I went straight down an aisle full of purses, dead on course for the fitting rooms. In my peripheral vision, as I got closer to the destination I made out a still, lumpish figure in black, immobile even as I moved closer. I parked my cart, grabbed my clothes to try on, and lifted my face up to meet the figure in black, today’s fitting room girl.


As I take in her countenance, I stifle a gasp, although I am sure my eyes widened on instinct. Sometimes you just don’t expect to see what you do. I glance at her nametag. “NONNA.”

Her hair was NONE MORE BLACK, the Blackest Black that Miss Clairol could make, rough-textured and reflecting no light. She had styled it in a long straight fashion, mightily teased at the crown, making her at least four inches taller. A rhinestone clip highlighted the beehive area. She must’ve weighed a good 270 pounds or more, in black stretch pants and a black poly shirt with long, see-though arms. She looked at me, dead-eyed, unsmiling, with an expression similar to one, I imagine, who has recently smelled something so offensive that it remains in the olfactory memory forever; sour, grim, hateful, deeply offended. The best combination that I can come up for you in picturing Nonna is the drag queen Divine + Gladys Presley + Priscilla Presley at her wedding if you took a garden hose and filled her so full of water that she became bloated nearly beyond recognition.

It is Nonna’s makeup in particular that I stare at, trying to take in the vast detail that she has painted for the world upon the canvas of her porcine pink face. The eyes are beladen with coat after coat of thick black eyeliner, swooping up into a cat’s eye/Cleopatra look, with crooked fat black false eyelashes that look like jittery spiders. Great powdery white layers of foundation sat upon her skin, with huge swaths of bright pink blush jammed on her puffy cheeks, clearly with great force. The lips were, in a sea of impressive facial feature competition, the stand-out. Great glops of ham-pink lipstick clung to her slug-like pout, outlined in a thick deep red, well past any realistic border of where her lips actually ended, with the pencil veering into a clown-like upturn. I was transfixed, jarred out of my reverie only by Nonna’s pudgy hands jabbing my clothes back to me, with a tag that read “6.” She sneered at me, and said not a word.

As I went back, I heard her speak to another Marshall’s colleague in Russian. This is what I imagined she said:

“Ludmilla, that plain American woman will never fit into those jeans. She is a fool, and furthermore needs more eyeliner. I spit on her grave.”

I take off my skirt, take the jeans off the hanger. They pull on sweet and smooth. Zip. Button. OH YES. OHHHHH YESSSSSSSSS.

Jeans, yes. Black Shorts, yes. Plaid Shorts, unflattering hips, no. Shirt 1, yes, Shirt 2, too tight, no. Black dress hits oddly at the bustline, no. 3 yes, 3 no, extra bonus points for the jeans triumph. I pull my skirt back on, slip on my sandals, and head back to Nonna. She does not move from her heavy leaning position on the wall, and simply points dismissively over to a clothes rack. I hang up the three fail garments, hand Nonna my “6” card, and grab one more glance at her, thrilled.

Good day.


Why does every Albertson's supermarket, everywhere around the country, smell like rotting meat? They should fix that. Maybe they kill their employees who take too many cigarette breaks and stuff them behind the cereal boxes. If you think I am onto something here, stop by your local Albertson's and enquire at the Service Desk. Thank you.

HA 4

My five-year-old daughter, happily and spontaneously clapping along to "People Are Strange" by The Doors.


I get to slack off today because I wrote a seven-page short story!

It came about in my very very very favorite way: the idea just appearing in my head, the structure, the everything, BAM! I get hyper and jittery and excited and MUST immediately get to the computer, open up Word, and get it down as fast as my little pillow fingers can type before I lose some of the details. They just keep coming and coming, and sometimes I have to just type out fragments on the page just to keep them because another one starts forming over it, or under it, or through it to continue on a whole new direction. Over Under Sideways Down, Backwards Forwards Square and Round. It is torture to be distracted during this Miracle Of The Words, because I am so focused on completing it. I cannot let it sit, I HAVE TO FINISH IT. Lucky me, I don't ever want to write a novel.

I started at 2PM, and it was done by 8:30PM, with excruciating breaks to go pick up the kids from summer camp, cook and serve wasabi-ginger chicken, with garlic butter brown rice, and fresh pineapple, and tuck in the same two camped-out sleepy kids. I finished it, re-read for typing errors, changed a word or two around, but left it almost exactly as it came out. Professional writers would roll their eyes at me now, knowing that multi-revisions and editing are NECESSARY and LONG DRAINING PROCESSES for ALL that's ALL which means YOU, MA'AM, writers. But nyah nyah nyah to you, you old bores! GUESS WHAT? I do know that, I do know it could be better, tighter, everything you ever do could be. But I like that it is preserved in this way, a nod to the spontaneous thinking (or blabbering) like I do here. I love the idea that something creative can be DONE, BAM! and out there, and you can go on to the next thing. I am not a belabored sort; I don't have the discipline to hone, whittle, refine, tweak, or polish anything. I can barely make a bed, for chrissakes.

Another time the Miracle Of The Words happened was when I was almost finished with college. I was taking a Creative Writing class that was very enjoyable and a great learning experience -- not something I can say about 99% of my college classes. The class was really sparking my brain up. So one night I am in the bathtub, soaking away mindlessly, and here comes this story. It rushed into my head and I started thinking OH. OH! OOOOH! I have no clue why it came; the subject matter had nothing at all to do with anything my life was about, just some bits and pieces of a friend's past mixed in with sheer fiction. I flung myself out of the bathtub, didn't even bother to grab a towel. I put on a giant red terry cloth robe and ran to the computer, yelling for my husband to take care of the kid. I think I finished the story in 3 or 4 hours, and barely changed a thing.

I handed it in to my professor in the writing class, cleverly using it for a required assignment. I love double-duty stuff. She gave it back to me at the next class. There wasn't a mark on it. I was confused, maybe she didn't read it, or thought it was so bad I should just toss it and start over? I turned to the back page. All it said was, "A+. You are a writer. So go write." I looked at the words for a long time trying to take in the depth of that. I looked up at her, and she was smiling at me.

She told me the University newspaper was having a writing contest and that I should submit that story right away, because the deadline for entries was almost up. So I printed out a copy on some hideous dot-matrix printer, and walked it over to the newsroom. A week later, I got a call. I won. The story was printed up in the paper, just as it was, even with the word "shit" in it. Ha ha. I picked up a bunch of copies, and sent some to my friends and relatives. It was a nice thing.

I thought about sending the story to be published somewhere, but I never did it. The daily business of life sort of swept away the idea, the class ended, and I had no reason to keep on writing.

But here we are. It is fun to write, and OK to write even if it is not grand, or even great. It's OK to be a writer, on my own terms. I can't wait to see what the hell turns up next.


Can't pass up a $45 special!


There was a woman who came into the salon today, looked to be in her early-30s, attractive with a long blonde shag-type do, dressed casually sharp in jeans, a tight green tshirt, heels. A little too much sun on the face and a little too made up, but in good shape. She smiles at me, slightly conspiratorially. She brought with her a child who looked to be about three years old. The woman was also getting the $45 special from Helen, a 50-something pleasant Chinese woman with very broken English who smiles and laughs a lot. If I had Helen's job, I would become a raging alcoholic. But, hey, bless her.

So the woman goes into the Rip Room with her little boy. Helen and I exchange raised eyebrows. She laughs. I shake my head. She assumes, the woman, that her son is too little to remember the sight of his mother at the wax place. BUT MAYBE HE'S NOT. Oh, well. She'll have his therapy bill to pay.

Advance three years. Mother's Day Tea at first grade.

"Mommy, remember that time you took your pants off and a woman put glue on you?"


This must be her first kid. Heh.


There was a hearse parked outside of Wendy's today.


No, not the god-awful Bette Midler movie, just the regular sand sort of thing. It is now officially summer, although the weather here is not exactly warm yet. It is teasing at around 70 degrees. June here is such a cruel bastard. You long for the heat of a summer sun, and June still fucks with your head, with rain and 50-degree days, throwing in a high-70s just to toss the clouds back the next day. Eat lead, Pacific Northwest June. Oh. Anyway, summer and the smell of sunscreen make me think of the beach, and I am always happy when thinking about beaches.

The first one I can remember going to was Naga-Waukee Park Beach, and I suppose I must've been 2 or 3 years old. The memories are vague of that day, just impressions now but they are still there. The smell of the Coppertone, and the picture on the brown bottle with the little girl and the dog pulling down her swimsuit bottoms, something I thought was extremely interesting and rather racy. The wonderful warm sun, cooled perfectly by a gentle lake breeze. How hot the sand was on my feet as I ran to the water. My mother in a seersucker swimsuit, I thought she looked so tall and lean and womanly. Kids everywhere, yelling and running. Big canvas totes stuffed with towels and baloney sandwiches and a big bag of chips. My chocolate-brown swimsuit, with a white ruffle. The woodsy-looking Snack Shack, where they sold lemonade, and snow cones, and hot dogs, and swirly vanilla ice cream cones that melted so quickly they ran down your hand and arm. Throwing the pebbles from the beach into the water with a satisfying plop. A yellow lab joyously chasing a branch into the water, over and over and over. Pretty boats with clean white sails quietly drifting across the lake. The feel of the cool water, and my mother telling me I will get used to it soon. The gritty sand on my feet and legs and hands. The idea that this was the best day ever.

Maybe it was. I have been to a few beaches since then, but I can't think of another memory about any other that contains such power, or just sheer happiness. How many times did I want to go back. We never did, even though it was only about a mile from our house.

I have been to beaches all over the country. Cape Cod, where my son decided a dead crab found on the beach there was an awesome thing to pack in his luggage. The stench was mind-boggling. Hawaii, from a windy greasy-tourist packed Waikiki, to a deserted and rocky remote cove. The chill and fog of a San Francisco beach in August, desolate. The absolute wonder of the talc-soft white beaches in Sarasota, the pretty blue-green Gulf, bending over searching for shells. And San Diego, standing on wide Mission Beach, at night, staring into the black and feeling the power and the endlessness of the ocean, and feeling both very small and very connected.

I don't mind if sand gets in my toes. I don't mind if I roll my pants up and they still get soaked by a rogue wave. There is something about being on a beach that I am drawn to, that is soothing and renewing. Here's to you, Naga-Waukee Park Beach. Ya done good in a day.


Back at it today, after several days off. 4.24 miles, which pleased me. It still truly surprises me how glad I am to get back on the dumb treadmill. It is good to feel like I am moving forward, I think, and good to feel like I am control of something. This is what I am learning: that what we do with our bodies is one of the few things we truly have some say in, all the time.

People came and went as I hung in there for my hour. It interests me how long they stay and how they structure their runs or walks. I marvel at the people who just jump on and start a blasting run. They are often not the visibly super-fit; just average, reasonable looking people from middle-aged balding dudes to short semi-dumpy moms, to nerdy super-thin young guys who look like their arms would break off if they attempted a pull-up. How do they do it? Will I ever be able to do this? I mean, I was the teen who would walk the 600-yard-dash in school, flipping off the pissed-off nazi gym teacher when she wasn't paying attention. Thirty years later, and I bet she is still there, scowling at some other pseudo-rebel, walking the track.

My favorite person at the gym was the older Asian woman who would alternate very fast running with very slow walking. When she ran, she would hold on really tightly to the bars and slam her little feet sort of straight down on the tread very loudly, like an odd dance. PAM PAM PAM PAM PAM PAM. She was great.

After I finished up, I wiped down the machine and went and sat down with my back against the wall to eat a yogurt and drink some fluids that are advertised to replenish and revive me. I watch all the butts climb the never-ending stairs, flail away soundlessly on the ellipticals, or PAM PAM PAM away on the treadmills. I listen to my ipod and smile at the songs that shuffle my way. I take my time, I rest, and I think. Today's small victory.


a.(on a macroscopic scale) a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.
b.(in statistical mechanics) a measure of the randomness of the microscopic constituents of a thermodynamic system. Symbol: S
2.(in data transmission and information theory) a measure of the loss of information in a transmitted signal or message.
3.(in cosmology) a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature (heat death).
4.a doctrine of inevitable social decline and degeneration.

This accurately describes my day today. Bite me, laundry.


In almost every single circumstance, it is better to SHUT UP. Talk less, watch and listen. Trust me on this. SHUT UP UP UP UP UP UP UP. The more you talk, the more trouble you buy. Shush. Quiet. Bandage your pie hole. Close your fly trap.

Try this for a week. It will change your life.


And...they are gone.

Didn't see them arrive, never saw them go. That is quite an accomplishment, because I am here almost all the time. I suspect it was in the middle of the night, that night I heard a gunning car engine in the alley. What happened to all your stuff? Is it still there? 'Cause you guys are gone, and you are not coming back.

The cops came sniffing around your place, twice that I saw in the month or so you lived here. Always two, with two cars. They smiled at me as I drove past them on my way out the driveway. I didn't ask what was going on, but something was, huh?

My daughter said your kids shouted over the fence that they had to move again because the house wasn't big enough. How many times have you told them this, or some other lie? How many times have you shuttled them to a car, sleepy and confused in the dead of night, to another dump of a place where they sleep on the floor on dirty blankets? How many times did you tell them Jesus will provide, but neglected to tell them just how Jesus provides?

I am not sorry you are gone. It is one less worry for me. That won't stop me from thinking every so often, for years, about the inevitable change that will happen in the faces of your children.


I'll bet you do not feel neutral about clowns. People seem to have either a a total love or extreme dislike for them. I am firmly and permanently in the latter group.

I DON'T LIKE CLOWNS. I REALLY REALLY REALLY DON'T. And I am here tonight to tell you why, in a few hundred words. I don't think I will get to a thousand because I haven't had much coffee today.

Clowns are creepy. There is something very odd and disturbing about a grown person trying to be amusing by obscuring their features with bizarre heavy makeup and putting on overly-large colorful garments, such as oversized shoes and baggy polka-dotted pants. Why is that funny? Even children know it's not funny! Children also are wise about shopping mall Santas, that's why they cry so much when they are forced to sit on them. They have an unerring sense of the wrong. Clowns are wrong.

I try to get inside the mind of a clown. What on earth in this world makes someone want to do this? Think. Of all the things, careers, hobbies to choose, this. The hope that someone not totally skeeved out by your appearance and lame physical comedy might throw a mercy smirk your way? What IS IT you WANT from people, Clown? You cannot possibly believe you are an entertainer, can you? Maybe clowns were hot comedy back in the days of potato-picking serfs, who would laugh at anything to take their minds off their back-breaking labor, the Plague, and that their legs just turned black and fell off. Honestly, I think even back then you would've been smote or hung or at least shunned and banished. Not funny is a universal and timeless wrong.

There is something desperate about a clown, a neediness that is repulsive. I get the feeling clowns are hiding something sinister. I am not alone in this. There are many websites devoted to the loathing of clowns, such as People get fired up about this, and for good reason I think. There is another subsection of people who actually fear clowns. I do not fear them; I would like to see them all relegated to some shitty, hurricane-and-violence-prone island, or at least contained to somewhere I will never go, like Louisiana.

The only thing creepier than clowns are the people who love clowns. Oh, man. I mean, I could bring up John Wayne Gacy, but that's too easy. People who fill their homes with clown paintings, little clown figurines, clown lamps, clown sculptures, mugs that have a sad-faced clown saying, "Be Nice To Me, I've Had A Hard Day," well all I can say about that is JESUS CHRIST. I think there is something in those people that relates to the idea of clowns as the broken-heart-of-gold semi-saint that goes out there to make balloon animals despite their crippling emotional pain. I believe these same people often own tiny miserable dogs that they dress in little outfits, and think mimes are great artists. Mimes are clowns, but even more lame and creepy. Anyone who tries to "walk against the wind" should be shot immediately with 100 paintball guns.

Now THAT would be funny.


David Bowie fills in for me tonight. Dedicated to a young man who is close, closest to my heart.

I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste
was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test

(Turn and face the strange)
Don't want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware
of what they're going through

(Turn and face the strange)
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it
(Turn and face the strange)
Where's your shame
You've left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can't trace time

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I'm going through

(Turn and face the strange)
Oh, look out you rock 'n rollers
(Turn and face the strange)
Pretty soon you're gonna get
a little older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time.


I vaguely recall first coming across these three bundled words/names in a magazine article about a set of very old triplets. I had no idea that they were named after martyred Catholic saints, because I was never a Catholic, and hardly a saint nor martyr. Their names sounded so corny and old to me, and I was grateful that at least the only burden I had to live up to with my name was maybe that I would not be as cute as Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island.” Who are these girls, these words, anyway?

Faith. Well, there’s a word I never liked. Faith, feh. The idea of “having faith” always seemed odd to me, trusting in something with nothing to back it up. Is there something noble about that? I say nay. Faith, be gone with ye. Go find another sucker. Faith is a glassy-eyed starched-dress automaton, numbed into a forced smile while serving iced tea and biscuits on a silver tray, because she thought it was “the right thing to do.” She is often used by those who wish to exploit her naivete. She never learns.

Hope. Pal to Faith, just as much of a sucker in the end, but I am more sympathetic to Hope. Poor humans, you are stuck with Hope. Even those who say they are Hope-less, really aren’t. You can be on your deathbed, rattling away, and still Hope sits by, thinking there might be a last-second rally. Logic, reason, pragmatics can lead you down one path, while Hope holds out you might take the fork in the road, or maybe find a hidden stash of gold behind a rock. Hope is in our DNA. Hope is quiet and kind, with big sparkling eyes that are often saddened but never lose their light. She is a listener, a patient friend, someone to hold your hand. She is a natural beauty, never means any harm, but often breaks your heart.

Charity. In her true form, a surprisingly rare commodity. The fake Charity is the one who throws her coffee change in to the stuffed tip jar and feels smug, offers to chair the auction because it’s good for networking, and volunteers at the hospital to plump up a resume. The real Charity, a cheerful and thoughtful sort, never lets anyone in on what she does. Giving to others is easy and normal for her, whether it is helping a discouraged child with his times tables, working two jobs to help her mother pay for her prescriptions, or just being a good and loyal friend. She asks for nothing; moreover, doesn’t even think of asking or looking for recognition. But she is also no martyr, this Charity – her compassion is tempered by the wish to give effectively, not to deplete herself. Fake Charity wears too much makeup and perfume, and has a tight smile that no one really likes. Real Charity is plain in face, dresses indifferently, but is loved fiercely by those who are lucky enough to know her.

The real FaithHopeCharity triplets I read about must be long, long dead, and I imagine they led lives that were pretty much colored by some kind of combination of their three names, along with all kinds of other less Biblically-heavy concepts. I bet they had some good times. I hear that about Catholic girls.


Hey, PUNK. Hey, I’m talking to you, PUNK! No, I am probably not, because to me calling someone a “punk” is a real, and rare, compliment. I don’t just give that out to anyone, oh no. If I think you are a punk, you are close to my little rebel bird-flippin’ heart.

Now, do not misunderstand me. I am not talking about the old-style juvie delinquent punk ala Rebel Without A Cause, nor the safety-pin-in-the-nose-and-bondage-pants punk. I hate fake punk, but I understand why some people buy into it. It’s easy to cop a ‘tude, and put on the right clothes, and express your dullard angst. Being a real punk is something that comes from within. It is a fierce independence, a uniqueness, a sense of the absurd, and an untamable sort of proud and bold craziness from which many good things can come. Real punks are usually fairly odd folks, it is true, and may not make the best pals. But I like you, punks. I do. Let me think of some punks vs. not punks.

Mick Jagger and Joe Strummer = Not Punks: Two middle-class dudes who just really liked music, charismatic and great in front of a crowd, but weren’t really crazy whatsoever. Strummer did more to obscure his thoroughly-decent and privileged upbringing, which takes him down a notch further from punkdom. Jagger dumbed down his accent pretty fast, too. Also, peeing in public is not really punky, just kind of gross.

Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo daVinci = Punks. Here’s a couple of wicked smaat, prolly-ADHD nutballs whose creativity and brilliance could not be contained. They knew the world and played with it, they persevered despite criticism, and were never afraid to be themselves. Real punk energy.

Henry Rollins and Charles Schulz = Punks. Henry is more of a punk away from music than in it, I think. He shows more of his sharp, witty, relentless mind with more words to work with. He’s unafraid to tell you what he thinks, in a hardass way that is still somehow quite charming. And dear Mr. Schulz, a lifelong depressive, found a way to turn his self-loathing into a zillion-dollar industry of anxious, depressed, narcissistic, and delusional children’s cartoon characters. Snoopy is a punk, believe it.

Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen = Not Punks. Just dumbasses.

Ray and Dave Davies = Punks. Noel and Liam Gallagher = Not Punks.

David Lynch = Punk. Quentin Tarantino = Not Punk.

Paul Newman = Punk. Liberace = Punk. Walter Cronkite = Punk.

Punk is at its core, being able to show all the deep-down gunk and wonder and mess that is inside, bring it out, slap it on the ground, and say HERE IT IS, CHECK IT OUT with no apologies, yet bring some kind of energy that you may or may not like, but might get you thinking. Punk is being able to write a tremendously run-on sentence like the one previous to this one, and not giving a shit. Punk has got a grin on its little devil face, just like I do now.


Going into a Best Buy store, for me, is like instantly being covered in a depressing, heavy, sour, itchy wool blanket that cuts off all fresh air and light, with a musty smell of hopelessness that fills the nose.


Today, as I do every year, I went to my teen son’s small school to watch the 8th Grade graduation ceremony. It is a thoughtful, enjoyable hour or so, where teachers write a little speech about each graduating child and present them with a individually-chosen book according to their interests and personalities. The teachers put good effort into writing their pieces, as much for the parents’ benefit as each child, I think. Some teachers are natural writers and presenters, some not as much, but they all seem to enjoy doing it.

The children’s reactions to being onstage and being feted are another thing. The boys. All looked sheepish and like they wished a massive windstorm would come and whip the podium and all the people right down the street to Burgermaster. I would’ve liked that as well, because it would’ve been absurd. Anyway, some of the boys turned bright red, some fidgeted in their collared shirts and new dress pants, some smiled nervously the whole time, a couple seemed to enjoy the attention. The girls. Some tottering on 4” heels that slipped on their feet, some wearing pants and skate shoes, some crying quietly in their seats after their moment. Braces. Zits. Unformed, but forming fast.

Oh, to be 14. I remember it as the year of the Big See. Life was becoming not so simple, I could no longer breeze my way through everything. Adults were all total idiots, boys were hopeless, I was not a Superstar nor going to be one, and was nowhere, nowhere near as pretty and brilliant as my mother told me I was. I was disappointed in everything and everybody, including myself, with no idea what to do about it other than grow up and hope it got better. So I see these children, some hardly looking much different than my 10-year-old, some looking like they could go off to college, and I know that they too have big thoughts, and big changes going on inside them. It is the process of becoming that is fascinating to me, when you can see it right in front of you. However, I look at them and remember that being in the process of becoming is sometimes terribly difficult, especially when you know that no matter what you do, time and experience are sometimes the only things that will help.

The greatest thing about 8th grade graduation is to spend a little time hearing about what is unique about each child, how they have made an impact so far, in this forum anyway. From the little dude with the bangs way over his eyes, to the serious-faced activist girl, to the girl who has absolutely no idea what a stunningly lovely young woman she already is, to the clown who has a heart of gold, I am glad to know a little more about who is coming up in this world.


As you waited for the bus with your ratty long brown hair in your black leather trenchcoat that nearly touched the ground, the menace you hoped to give off really failed pretty completely.


Your hair, an explosion of undifferentiated orb-like frizz, well-complimented your extra-large-beach-ball-sized stomach as you walked your bike across the street.


Oh, sir. My teen son nearly blasted my ears out with his guffaws when he saw you on the sidewalk today, all 98-pasty-myopic-painfully-thin pounds of you, wearing a white t-shirt, a black wrestling singlet, black Converse high-tops with black socks, eating a bag of chips and apparently talking to yourself or worse, on a Bluetooth.


Of course, that horse came in dead last next time. It's because I wrote about him, I am quite sure.

Partly because of "Mr. Ed" and the fact that I was a young female, there was nothing more I wanted as a child than my very own pony. PONY!!!!! We lived right next to a farm, and were very friendly with the kind old folks that owned it, and there really would've been no problem to board a pony there. I brought this logic to my father right before my 4th birthday. He was reading the paper. He folded it down, looked at me and with an almost-but-not-quite-imperceptible hint of patronization, said "You may have a pony on your 9th birthday." Oh, Dad. Dad Dad Dad. You didn't know much about kids, and you sure didn't know your own baby daughter too well yet.

Let's fast forward five years. OF COURSE, I didn't forget his promise. I as much counted off the days. That spring, as I was getting closer to nine, my excitement built. I dropped all kinds of pony-related hints, drew pictures of lovely tan ponies with blond braided manes, read "Black Beauty" and "Misty of Chillicothe" again, and spent hours imagining riding and brushing and hugging my very own pony. But, I knew. I did. I knew our family was struggling for money at the time, kids always know these things. My dad became more sheepish and quiet when I blathered on about ponies and saddles. I knew.

My birthday came, a blustery bright-white cloudy day with a little touch of the summer warmth ahead. Part of my heart thought that maybe the pony was already over at the farm, with a red bow tied to her tail, but it was a pretty small hope. My dad asked me to sit down in the car with him for a minute. It was as honest and plain and humble as he had ever been with me, and maybe ever was again. He was a gruff kind of guy, so this was quite a moment for me as he told me he was sorry. He told me he thought I would never in a million years remember his promise, and he regretted saying it to me. He went on to say we just could not afford to buy and board a pony now, that he wished I could have one, but we couldn't do it. I think he expected me to cry and complain, but I didn't. I told him it was OK, and I smiled as best I could. Something told me that this was a whole lot worse for him than it was for me, and I just wanted to let him off the hook. He seemed so relieved.

I stepped out of the car, my thin yellow windbreaker flapping in the wind. The little crack in my heart started to mend.


When I was a tyke, we had this obscure Italian car called a Facel Vega. My dad was one of those guys who liked to have everything different and unique, that no other man in town, the the state, in the COUNTRY would have. So we got this car, dubbed "The Batmobile" immediately by the neighborhood kids which chagrined my dad to no end. It was shiny shiny black, had a lovely soft leather and burled wood interior, and smelled fancy.

It also had "suicide doors," which if you don't know the term, were doors that were rear-hinged with no center pillar. This ironically-named feature had an interesting quirk in our car: once it got up to around 50 - 55 mph. the doors would sometimes suddenly FLY OPEN. Of course, I found this fantastic. I can remember my mother screeching for us all to scoot to the middle of the seat (I don't remember if it had seat belts, but we were never asked to wear them ever) while she slowed and pulled over. We would laugh like idiots. I think she tried to tie the doors shut with some twine or something. Ralph Nader would've lost his shit over this car, eh?

So, clearly the ol' Facel Vega was just not going to be able to stick around as a FAMILY CAR. Despite the incredibly obvious problem of a child falling out of the vehicle like a spicy meatball down the highway, my dad still pouted when he had to sell it. I have no idea who he pawned it off too. I'm not sure of the market in Wisconsin then for Batmobiles with exploding doors.

The day he pulled up at home with the coppery brown Ford station wagon that was the Facel Vega's replacement, he was not smiling. My mother was, though.

HA 3

Once on an 18-hour Greyhound bus ride from Chicago to Philadelphia, I laughed for nearly an hour straight when the giant orange I was about to peel and eat fell from my hands and rolled up and down the aisle, back and forth, back and forth.


Four dollars and fifty cents a gallon. FOUR DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS A GALLON. I have no idea why people aren't rioting, burning, looting, pillaging, and most importantly, stealing gasoline. My dad the car enthusiast would be rolling in his grave, if he had a grave. Instead, I imagine his ashes are rolling at the bottom of the Wisconsin River. He would've been pissed.

I remember the first time gas went over a buck. People were HOWLING with indignation, couldn't even believe it, wanted to kill a guy or something. Now? Oh, sure, everyone is whining, prices of everything are screaming upwards and it is only gonna get MUCH WORSE, but what is anyone DOING ABOUT IT?

I don't know what to do either. This little problem with the dependence on foreign oil has become such a NUISANCE, EH? OK, well maybe this is good. Let's hit rock bottom so we can finally figure out ways to not be such energy pigs, and the creative and brave and scientific can finally get to do their things. People can generally figure out stuff, if given the time, opportunity, finances, and access. I'll sacrifice, I'll change, but I want to see this coming from the top. OH MY, REAL LEADERSHIP! What a concept.

Gallon of gas or a Starbucks coffee, what to choose? How the hell did this happen?


I was such a weird little kid. I had a thing about playing games at birthday parties. I wouldn’t partake, even at my own parties, even if everyone won something. How odd. I’m sure it had something to do with perfectionism, not being able to bear even the idea of not being #1, even in something at stupid as a carry-an-egg-on-a-spoon relay. So I just wouldn’t play. Mindful of others perceptions of me, I didn’t want anyone to think I was a poor sport or anything, so I would just claim to be tired or “just wanted to watch for awhile.” How does that turn up in the mind by kindergarten? Jeez.

I can remember putting up a giant pout once, though. I was maybe 8 or 9, at a sleepover party with a gaggle of girls. The birthday girl was an only child of some means, so there were really good prizes for the games. I had my laser-like focus on a case to hold 45 RPM records – it was covered in a shaggy hot pink fake fur and had a funny face with big pom-pom eyes. Surely, it was me who had to own this! I was the music fan! I had to win, for the winner had first choice of the prizes. I forget what the game was, something random, though, no skill, just luck. My luck played out that the birthday girl herself won top choice, and picked the case. Oh, holy hell. I could feel black billowing clouds emanate from the top of my head, and bolts of deadly lightening shoot from my eyes. I think I may have started dropping silent fat tears as well. No doubt folded arms, big lip, and major frownage were happening as well. The birthday girl’s mother, who knew me well, too well, realized that I would sit in steely, shitty determination all night long and probably ruin the party. She intervened and after some tense negotiations, the birthday girl turned the case over to me. I can remember that complex feeling of YES! WIN! I WIN! and some amount of shame about how I achieved it. I would’ve really hated me if I were that mom. Heh.

I still have the case, though. I really did like it a whole lot. It's very groovy.

Later on, there were no party games of course. The wins were: 1. a place to have an unsupervised teen function, preferably dark with loud music; 2. substances to abuse, and most importantly; 3. attendance by my latest guy crush. These parties were often great dramas, with many stories told and retold the next week at school, and sometimes for years later. Someone always threw up and/or passed out cold, someone got into a fight, something always got broken, and someone’s heart always got broken as well, while someone’s else’s was soaring. I would always start the evening with such hope, and usually just end up tired, messed up, and with some amount of male attention but hardly ever the guy I pined for. The keg would be tapped out, tires would squeal out of the driveway, but there was always next weekend, right?

Grown-up parties just aren’t as compelling. There aren’t any games, and everyone has generally paired off. The social component centers around food, work talk, maybe a game on the TV. My face gets tired from smiling, I never ever get drunk, and I definitely never win anything other than maybe getting to eat some good cheese and crackers.

These days, I try to be more reasonable. Winning is really important to me still in many ways, but not everything is a win situation. I am more comfortable with failing, particularly if I can figure something from it, which makes an odd sort of a win. I am still learning how to play nice, or even play at all, but I am getting there.

I am up for a three-legged race. Let’s go.


Today’s the day.

If you say one more rude, crappy, inappropriate, and/or grossly self-centered comment anywhere in my vicinity – ANYWHERE – I’m gonna tell you to f right the f off.

You are so horrible. You may be one of the most awful human beings I have ever had the misfortune to come across. For years, you have made a reputation for being an embarrassment to yourself, your family, and anything you are associated with. All you do is complain and force attention towards YOUR PERSONAL NEEDS. WAKE UP! YOU ARE DESPISED!!

You thrive on intimidating everyone, and count on the fact that most people are far too polite to tell you to shut up. You self-righteous lump of doughy narcissism. You think you are standing up for yourself, asking the tough questions, telling the truth, keeping it REAL? Here’s the real real: YOU SUCK. You can’t see that the questions you ask are off-topic, time-wasting, and dull-minded. You can’t see that your intrusive personal jabs, given to all and sundry, reveal your ugly character. You can’t see that people cringe when you are near, and avoid you like the plague. You can’t see that your OWN FAMILY looks deeply uncomfortable and ashamed around you. I pity them all, ‘cause you are a boil on the ass of life.

So, Crank, bring it today. You don’t scare me. I’ll get a standing ovation from every molecule that makes up every living thing on earth, and hopefully you’ll f right the f off.


I was shopping around online a few days ago and I saw this fabulous pink plaid miniskirt, which I fell in love with immediately. I looked to see if they had it in my size, which they did, and I went to click “Add to Shopping Cart,” then thought again. I gave it another hard look. Aw, crap. I can’t wear that anymore. I would look silly. I tried to think of a way to old it up, and just could not. Huge sigh. It was so cute.

I like plaid things, although not all plaid things. Plaid golf pants are not appealing, nor are plaid bedsheets. I like bold plaids. I had two special red plaid things when I was little: tennis shoes and a bookbag. The tennies had the big white rubber bumper toes, and big white rubber soles, and I think I got them at the Buster Brown shoe store. No one else seemed to have them, and I wore them until they had holes and I couldn’t cram my little toes in them any more. They were different, and I really dug feeling different, even then.

The red plaid bookbag came from England, which made it beyond special and groovy. If you do not know what bookbags are, these were the precursors to backpacks, worn like a current-day laptop bag/purse style. They were generally very cheap and thin. Oh, how I loved this bag, even though I really had nothing but the Weekly Reader to put in it, in the days before any homework of consequence for young children. It was trimmed out in black leather, with a thin strap and two big buckles to close it shut. The inside was this orange rubberized material which seemed related to a basketball. It got dry and cracked apart as the years went by, and fell apart like the tennis shoes. Perhaps plaid is unreliable, or maybe I loved them to death.

I’ll tell you a bad plaid: The Bay City Rollers. Oh mah gawd, what was THAT? Trying to pass off a bunch of pasty, zitty Scottish boys with buckteeth and CROPPED PLAID PANTS as teen idols? Well maybe for the equally-pasty ginger-haired befreckled pudgy lasses over there but THIS IS THE USA, DAMMIT! S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y! NO WAY! They were a POX on my PLAID!

Maybe I will get the hot pink plaid skirt and wear it around the house when no one is here. Win.


It was certainly wrong, illegal, dangerous, and neglectful for my dad to allow me to ride down the road on the open tailgate of our '67 Ford station wagon at about 30 mph, but it sure was fun.


My favorite time in the 24 hour cycle is when the sky is deep matte blue, but still light enough to see dim cloud patterns, and the trees look like flat black silhouettes against it. Bonus points for a crystal-clear full moon beaming out a silver glow, and an array of assorted planets, stars, satellites, planes, and unknowns.

I am a night girl. It is so much more interesting than the daytime. Daytime represents all the dull tasks that must be done; nighttime has so many more possibilities of surprise and strangeness. The world, too plain and open and obvious during the sunlight hours, becomes dramatic at night. Even the gas station looks beautiful and shiny at night. Even the gas station attendant looks better.

You can get away with more stuff at night. Night is a good buddy, a confidant, always provides refuge and a knowing smile and a cloak. People really do look better at night, too. If you don’t look ravishing at an outdoor restaurant, lit only by candlelight, the moon, or maybe a little neon, you must be butt ugly.

It is my natural inclination to stay up all night, every night, and has been so forever or around that. But my alarm clock, aka CHILDREN, thwarts my body clock. They get up around 6AM whether or not they want to, have to, or need to. They are un-quiet. I may lie there in a stupor, but I am awake. Maybe I should just stay up all night and sleep all day! I am a rock star, with my ways. When the kids are all out of the house, or at least able to BE QUIET DAMMIT, then maybe I can let my inner Keith Richards out again. Sans all those pesky substance abuse issues, of course.

Night is cooooool. I do love the sun sun sun, but the moon is My Man. Shine on.

Long slender shadows pulsating in windows
While feathery curtains hide fountains of eyes from the light
A different disease in another translation
Though you don't understand a familiar sensation
But who needs to talk when you're caught in the flavour of night

And you, yeah you, with your ice cream hands
You, yeah you, are my friend

All that you want could be happening for you
Just like the road that unrolls there before you tonight
Eyes you don't trust the fingers have beckoned
How long you got left--well, how long do you reckon
But who goes to waste when they're tasting the flavour of night

--Robyn Hitchcock, “Flavour of Night”


There are many lines dividing youth from maturity. One of them is the day you can no longer go on carnival rides without becoming ill. It is a sad day, one that rips you from the effortless joy of giddy, spinning childhood into the sorry realization that you are no longer so balance-flexible nor stomach-hardy, and the adult world looms.

That day came for me at the ripe old age of 15. A group of us headed off to Dandelion Park, a minuscule theme park (theme was weeds? idk) where I was primarily excited about the idea of sharing a close and romantic haunted house ride with a boy I had long pined for. The pack of us, newly off of school for the summer, grabbed some cheap food, ran into the park and decided that the first ride was to be this sort-of ferris wheel, except you rode in enclosed cages while going around. You could also hold down a bar as you went around, stabilizing the cage and making you go upside-down. It was a good ride, lots of fun.

JOY!!!! The guy I liked, all tan-skinned with his lovely longish black wavy hair and huge perfect smile, got in line next to me, and we coupled up for the ride. I noticed the sky getting a bit dark, clouds quickly forming. NO! I was going to have this ride! No thunderstorm was going to kick me out of this moment! We clambered into the red metal cage, put the bar down, and the reprobate carnie clanged the pin shut on the cage door. Up we went, laying flat on out backs as we went further up and...ooooover. He looked at me and I looked at him and we laughed and held on. I got butterflies in my stomach, which I attributed to nerves and teen love. We went around and around, pulling the bar hard at just the right moment to hit the upside-down sweet spot. My necklace clanked against my glasses, and I worried they would fly off and I would be blurry-sighted and embarrassed. The sky was getting darker and darker. I moved closer to my guy; he moved closer to me, our thighs touching. Faster around we went, and my stomach started flipping and flopping in a decidedly-unromantic way.

I was starting to think that maybe I wasn't feeling so good and/or we were about to get electrocuted, when I felt a...liquid...splash on my head and arms. Plop, plap. At first I thought it was the inevitable ruining rain, but it was much much worse. I looked at my guy, who was looking at his shirt and pants, and I noticed the rain plops had chunks in them, on us. Then I heard, over the roaring ride engine, a retch, and felt more wet on me. SHIT!!!!! We were being PUKED ON! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I started to smell the acrid stomach acid of the kid's vomit from the cage above us and my own stomach distress turned from worrisome to acute.

We yelled at the top of our lungs for Carnie Man to stop the ride, but he was on it already. We lurched to a halt, completely horrified and disgusted that we were covered in some little bastard's heave, and staggered out onto the grass. My head was spinning, my guts ached. I lunged over to a huge garbage can shaped like a smiling daisy and bowed over it. A blast of hot dogs, Coke, and cotton candy came flying out of my mouth in one great propulsive spew. Dizzy, reeking, and utterly mortified, I walked a few steps to some grass under a tree and fell on my back, spent. I didn't even want to look for my crush; I was hoping he had ran the other direction and did not witness my red-faced sweaty vomit performance. Just my luck, he came over by me with the rest of the gang, giggling and swearing and concerned all at once. He looked at me with a sad, smiling shake of the head, and said, "You look awful." I glanced up at him, and rolled my eyes. A crack of thunder pierced the pitiful moment, and one of my girlfriends said we had better get out of here, and helped me to my shaky feet. The rain burst through the clouds in great sheets as we ran to the arcade.

The end of the story was that I washed up in the park bathroom as best I could, my girlfriend went to her car and got me her t-shirt and swimsuit bottoms to wear, as well as a towel to tie around said bikini bottoms, and the day was pretty much over. About six months later, I finally got to make out with my guy at a party, and he was such a bad kisser that I completely lost interest in him on the spot.

From then on, if I attempted to go on rides, I just felt nauseated and woozy, so I stopped. Sober adulthood arrived via a blackening sky, a failed romance, a dodgy ride, and puke rain.