Monthly Archives: June 2012

My Big Fat Greek Crisis

My Big Fat Greek Crisis

I don’t want to get all high and mighty, but I will. I predicted the whole Greek economic crisis years ago. That’s right, a liberal arts geek who went to an agricultural college in rural Oregon saw it the moment I stepped on an Olympic Air flight to Crete.

Before I launch into this I will let you know that my darling husband who goes by the name of “Jim” will most likely dispute some or all of my impressions and memories of these events. I, however, dispute his dispute so suck on that!

We were in Athens on our way to Crete to meet up with a bunch of very odd, ragtag people who also thought an REI Adventure Vacation sounded like a really cool thing to do. (More on those details and the idiosyncratic behaviors observed another time.)

We’d been travelling for about 15 hours by the time we lined up (and I use “lined up” in a totally sarcastic way) at the Athens airport to get on the last leg of our trip.

If any of you have been to a Greek airport you know that my entire argument about queuing up and zippering in crowds as being the very foundation of a civilized society simply does not apply here. Without it, it’s anarchy – which is exactly what the Athens airport is.

For being the supposed seat of civilization, its subjects are decidedly uncivilized in a crowd.

There was a literal sea of small, old, babushka-wearing grandmothers, who all bore an uncanny similarity to Larry Bud Melman. As good, order-loving Americans, we allowed these women to cut in front of us in line.

That’s what you do when you are polite and don’t want to be perceived as ugly Americans from Texas (sorry Texans but that’s how we feel about you….if you could just lower your volume a tish….).

These old ladies are an unstoppable force. They seem to work well in small groups, they ignore protocol, don’t take no for an answer and, in head-to-toe black, can go undetected at night like elderly, annoyed ninjas.

When we finally made it on the “plane” (again, sarcastically speaking) we took the first seats we saw. I really don’t think we had assigned seats – pretty sure this is like a metro bus that happens to fly. We sat for a few minutes observing the surrounding din of screaming Greeks, crying children and utter chaos erupt around us.

I SWEAR I heard chickens and saw some feathers come out of a crate a little grandmother was shoving violently in the overhead bin. “Jim” says I was hallucinating but again, I dispute that!

Someone came on with what looked like a bunch of band equipment that would not fit in the overhead. There was a loud argument between the band and the flight attendant until they all seemed to agree it was fine (and well within the Greek aviation safety limits) to just leave it in the aisle.

When it was time for takeoff, we started to buckle up only to find there were no real buckles – or, at least none that actually would secure you in a seat. Pretty sure this aircraft was some remnant from the Greco-Turkish war. I tied my two pieces of fabric around my middle and proceeded to break out in a sweat. This would be fear sweat on top of the temperature and humidity sweat already going on.

I feel I must state here that I seemed to be the only one concerned about any of this. It would appear that this was just another day on an Olympic Air flight for everyone else. This, combined with my lack of sleep, made for a very Twilight Zone vibe. The start of the plane engines sounded like the lawnmower we got off craigslist.

As the wheels lifted from the tarmac, the plane did a sharp bank to the left with literally inches of space between the wing and the asphalt. In fact, I will swear to this day that I not only could see specific pebbles on the runway as I looked out the window, but I saw some sparks come off the wing tip as it dragged along the ground.

Again, Jim disputes this but I say, who had the window seat, dude?

By some miracle of the gods, we ended up in Crete alive.

Listen, people, put the ouzo down and think about it. If you can’t queue up a simple line, you can’t balance a budget. Seat of civilization my ass.

Next time I’m going to Switzerland.

I Hope They Don’t Serve Peanut Butter in Heaven

I Hope They Don’t Serve Peanut Butter in Heaven

I know I’m a little tardy on a Father’s Day tribute but I chose to write about porn last week instead so now a word about my Dad.

(By the way, I believe my father would not only support the porn decision but would have been surprised had I gone another route. And then he would have whacked me upside the head for being late because that’s very rude.)

My Dad seemed to be in a pretty crappy mood for a large portion of his life. Or, at least the portion of his life when I knew him. I try not to take that too personally though. He was Irish and that can tend to explain all sorts of things. And he was raised by the Christian Brother’s Catholic Church in New York City during the Depression and, since he only had peanut butter and bread to eat for long periods of time, he most likely had scurvy….which would explain everything that the Irish part didn’t.

I began to grasp the real reason he was so cranky in the past several years since I had kids. He and my mother produced six offspring.  I never did get them to fess up about their reason for this terrible lack of judgment. Did they actually intend to have six or was it the no-birth-control Catholicism? Either one paints them as lunatics.

When my father passed away 7 years ago, no one was especially surprised. For one thing, he was 84 years old so not exactly taken down in the prime of his life. Also, he was supposed to have died several times prior to this and didn’t, I believe, so that he could keep us slightly off kilter and nervous at all times.

My father’s wishes were to be cremated so me, my sisters and my mother found ourselves in a hushed conference room with soothing colors and quiet background music at the funeral home discussing the receptacle we would pour Dad into for his final burial. My father was a very no-frills, pragmatic man so an ornate urn was out of the question upon risk of being haunted for the rest of our lives with a litany of ghost rantings about wasteful behavior.

As you’d expect, we were all quite tired and punchy from emotion and worry about our mother and how she was going to fare through all this so we weren’t thinking particularly straight. As the nice young funeral boy (I believe that’s on his business card) went somberly through the absurdly large catalog of options for housing ashes, we all started to get the giggles. I can’t quite remember what may have started it (I think it had something to do with “veteran” vs. “veterinarian”, him being the former and not the later) but pretty soon there wasn’t a dry eye in the room and not for the correct reason. Our barely contained hysteria went something like this:

“Let’s just put him in a velvet Crown Royal bag and call it a day.”

“Is there some way we could fashion him into a fishing lure?”

“I say we scatter him all over the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Do we need a permit for that?”

The bad news is that we tend to be loud laughers and one does not normally expect to hear loud female cackling coming from a funeral home as if we were doing Jell-O shots at Senior Frog’s. We were gently escorted to the parking lot to avoid bothering the other, more appropriate mourners.  I don’t know if we were really 86’ed from a funeral home, but knowing how proud Dad would be if we were, it’s what I’m choosing to believe.

Here are some facts about my Dad:

He hated peanut butter

Used to have me believe he was a spy in the war and still had the recording devices and cameras embedded in his eyes and ears

Had a wicked, some would say cruel, sense of humor

Loved animals

He cheated at board games

Scared the shit out of us

Taught me how to skin and gut a trout

Smoked cherry-vanilla tobacco in his pipe

Hope you’re having a hoot, Dad, and they don’t serve peanut butter in heaven.

50 Shades of WTF (or, The Use of a Thesaurus While Masturbating in Public)

50 Shades of WTF (or, The Use of a Thesaurus While Masturbating in Public)

(I was told that the use of sexy words in a title would get more hits. Evidently, lots of people search on the word “thesaurus.” Who knew?)

Listen, I get it. No one is having enough sex. Especially no one I know. I’m sure George Clooney gets laid constantly. It must get boring for him. But I’m no George Clooney.  I suspect Betty White gets more action than I do. I suspect Betty White gets more tail than George Clooney does.

So, given the state of our sexless existence, I felt compelled to dip my toe into the mommy porn cesspit and read 50 Shades of Grey. What a fucking weird book this is. Oh, you could say it’s weird because of the numerous references to anal plugs and spanking. But I mean weird because its level of suckiness can’t possibly match up to its popularity….or the obscene amount of coin the author is raking in.

I have a laundry list of rants to go with this book that could fill dozens of blogs, so I will focus on my top two issues today.

Issue Number 1: The enervating, encumbered, oppressive and exaggerated used of the thesaurus by the writer.

Who the hell talks like this? Especially whilst having a butt plug thrust into a poop hole? “Why, Mr. Grey, what a hedonistic endeavor you are embarking on.”  SHUT UP!

The use of inappropriate SAT-level vocabulary is more disturbing than the handcuffs and nipple clamps in this piece of shit.

I dare you to use “thesaurus” words in a normal sentence in daily life without looking like a complete asshole.

For your consideration:

“Dude, that wave was epic. I will never expunge it from my memory!” See, total asshole.  He will not be invited to the clambake later.

“I can’t wait to dig into this steak with my cutlery.” It’s a knife, douchebag!

“I smoked so much weed this weekend, I was afraid I would somnambulate.” Shut up or I will stab you in the head.

“That inconsiderate misanthrope absconded with my parking space.”  I hate you and I don’t know what you just said, you fucking tool.

I think “Thesaurus” is now my safe word.

Issue Number 2: Don’t read this book in front of people!! You are freaking them out.

For the love of God, if you have the physical book, stick a brown paper bag around it or something. We all think you are either a horny old lady or have terrible sense in your choice of reading material. Both can’t be good for you. Please, you live in a shame-based society. Act accordingly.

And this rule doesn’t only apply to public places like buses and park benches. Do you think your 20-year-old son wants to know his mother (or aunt or gay uncle) is a horny freak show? That could do some serious damage and take years for the visuals to be “expunged” from his memory.

I believe we only fly our freak flag at full mast within the confines of our S&M rooms…or in blogs where consenting adults gather willingly.

What I’m most intrigued about is the writer. Who the hell is this woman and what kind of private life does she have? No offense, E.L. James (not her real name….I wouldn’t use my real name either) but you just don’t look the type. You look like every woman in sweats in line at Trader Joe’s or picking their kindergartener up.

So, you have now made me look twice at everyone I know and have compromised my ability to compartmentalize them into tidy boxes. For all I know, that woman in front of me at the coffee shop who looks like she has not showered in days and has stains on her shirt has a vibrator up her lady garden RIGHT NOW!

She does seem suspiciously chipper about her venti frappuccino….

 

A Survivalist’s Guide to Talking to Kids (for people who are understandably creeped out by them)

A Survivalist’s Guide to Talking to Kids (for people who are understandably creeped out by them)

I’ve never been a “kid” person really. I have no doubt that this has been evident to my children at times and will be the root of many sessions with a licensed therapist.

Maybe I’ve seen too many Stephen King movies or read The Turn of the Screw too many times, but I’ve never quite trusted that they will not kill me and eat my brains the moment I turn my back on them. It doesn’t help that I have twins, which everyone knows can’t end well.

So, I have compiled a little Quick Reference Guide for those of you who, like me, feel at least mildly uncomfortable around children. You may print this out and laminate it if you like.

  • Many people try to talk to kids as if they are adults. However, I choose to talk to them like they are tiny drunk adults.
  • Most kids are smarter than we give them credit for. This is scary for us because if it weren’t for their short stature and lack of organizational skills, we would be their slaves.
  • Don’t feel bad if you come across a kid you don’t like. They most likely shot out of the womb of adults you also don’t like.
  • Only let your kids play with kids whose parents drink. I don’t think I even need to explain that one.
  • It’s OK to swear in front of kids – just spell out the words. This is my personal contribution to literacy in our nation.
  • Always wear earplugs and shin guards.
  • If you find yourself outnumbered by them at any time, refer back to your reading of Lord of the Flies in high school, ascertain who is positioning for alpha and take him or her out.
  • If the above doesn’t work, turn on any electronic device. You could turn on an empty blender and they will be mesmerized. It’s the great equalizer. And, I believe, the way they communicate with their mother ship.
  • You must always remember that children are lunatics. I don’t have a lot of first-hand experience with truly insane people but have watched several episodes of Hoarders and My Strange Addiction, which I believe makes me an expert in mental illness. My conclusion is that you just avert your eyes and back away. Most mental health professionals would probably agree with me.

So, follow these simple steps to get through the awkward years (1-18) and they grow up enough to be your drinking buddy or your dealer.

You’re welcome.