i recap a thursday and admit i’m a freak

I talked to my friend Eleanor yesterday.  I hadn’t heard her actual voice since we met over a year ago.  My only way of keeping in touch with her since then was through her webpage, my webpage, and our e-mails.  It’s nice that we didn’t have to do any catch up, that we already knew what both of us were talking about.  We talked about her e-commerce idea.  I’m all for it.  I just hope she knows how to do everything, because I’ll be basically like, “So, what do I do next?  Okay, I’ll do that.  Then what?”

I’m a good sales person, but I don’t think I’m a good business woman.

I just realized I hadn’t updated on my zitty cat’s condition.  He’s doing better.  Not so much acne on his chin.  Now he gets the occasional break-out on his upper lip.  Pretty soon his voice will change and he’s going to start asking to take out the car.  But for right now he just spends a lot of time in the bathroom.  He says he’s combing his fur.  Why should I think any differently?

Anyway, so Eleanor and I talked about all sorts of things, and I was wondering if we’d end up talking about journalling.  We hadn’t, and she said, “Well, I’d better let you get back to work,” and I asked her for her phone number and then the next thing I knew we were talking about journalling.  It’s fun to talk about these things with someone because reading online journals and e-mailing journal friends is still a very solitary experience.  Having someone to talk to makes the whole thing seem more legitimate, and less like I’m secretly taping and watching soap operas on Friday afternoons.

Because that’s not why I’m home on Fridays.  Really, it isn’t.  I just changed my work schedule to go with my theatre schedule better.

Actually, I never watch soap operas.  Unless you count ER or My So Called Life or something.  I would watch those.  I couldn’t even get into the Real World after San Francisco.  One spring break when I was in high school all of my friends were so excited that they were going to get to watch Days of Our Lives every day instead of when they got home, so I went to one of my friend’s houses and let her tell me everything that was going on.  She caught me up on who was with whom and who was so-and-so’s daughter, and who this person used to be and who they now are.  It all was very complicated, but I caught on.

And I watched.  I watched for five straight days.  On the fifth day they dropped a character in a vat of acid in some magic act that had gone horribly wrong because the magician went crazy and wanted to kill her.  I turned off the television.  I haven’t watched a daytime soap since.

My mother used to watch Ryan’s Hope when I was a kid.  I remember the day she stopped.  She was yelling at the television.  It sticks out in my head as the first time I had seen my mother yell at a box.  I later found out that she was mad that it took a whole week for a gorilla to drop a woman off a tall building and they waited the whole week to find out if she lived or died and I think at the end of the week she fell into a net and my mother was screaming, “Of course she’s fine, you had a whole week to get a net!”

And I think that was the end of Ryan’s Hope in my house.

I watch ER for the medical stories, not for the interaction of the characters.  I used to watch St. Elsewhere when I was a kid because I liked Howie Mandel.  I watched L.A. Law because it seemed a very grown-up thing to do.  That and when I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be either a lawyer or a psychiatrist.

You can see why my parents are confused about me being in a comedy troupe.

Well, okay, to tell the truth, being a lawyer wasn’t my first choice, and if I don’t tell the story here, my dad’s gonna go post it on the forum and get me all riled up, so here’s the story:

This is one of the stories that you will here if you ever come eat dinner at my parent’s house.  It’s an old staple in the Things-That-We-Can-Say-That-Embarrass-Pamie file.

When my little sister was being born, I was three and a half.  I was at my father’s hotel, I think in the restaurant, and I was sitting with some of my dad’s co-workers.  I was on display, I think, doing the dances I knew by heart, singing my ABC’s and reading whatever was put in front of me.  I remember that happening a lot when I was a kid.  Someone would go, “She’s probably memorized that.  Here.  Can you read this?”  And then I’d read it.  So here I was showing off my “A” material when one of the men said to me, “Wow, Pamie, you are really smart.”

[scripty]
PAMIE
Thank you.

MAN
What do you want to be when you grow up?

PAMIE
A horse.
[/scripty]

I lost all credibility right there.  You can’t be a child prodigy and want to be a horse.  My friend Josh said that this proved that I really was brilliant, that I was able to think outside the box at a very early age, and use my imagination enough to go past limits of what we’re told we can be when we grow up.

Ask my father and he’ll tell you it’s because my IQ is three points lower than his.  He’ll say my smarty pants weren’t quite fitting right yet.

Anyway, the story doesn’t really bother me like it did when I was a kid.  When I was younger I hated anything that made me look dumb.  Now I think it’s kind of cute.  I wanted to be a horse.  Dad never follows up on the story that by the time I was six I wanted to be a psychiatrist.  He always forgets that part.  Darnit.

Wow, it’s “going back in time with pamie” week, isn’t it?  I’ll try not to fill so many of my stories with kid memories for the next couple of days.  I’m feeling like Will Hunting here.

I have a bit of a headache this morning, as I had a glass of wine TWELVE  HOURS AGO.  I can’t believe I get a headache with one glass of wine now.  I don’t really enjoy beer after beer– I really only like it when it’s sunny or we’re eating buffalo wings or something.  Somehow I’m turning into a complete non-drinker lost in a sea of drinkers.  Sometimes I feel a little left out.  Usually, though, I don’t mind.

I don’t know, I just don’t let myself drink, I think.  I have a very addictive personality.  When I was in high school I did one of those charts to see if I was genetically predisposed to alcoholism, and the chart said that I had a seventy percent chance of becoming an alcoholic from the very first time I got drunk.  I think because I don’t really like the taste, and I don’t really like the feeling of losing control of my awareness that I haven’t run into that problem.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been really drunk, and with each time it was because I didn’t realize how much liquor was in whatever it was I was drinking.

But I get addicted to anything, I do.  When I first got my Tamagotchi I’d check that thing every ten minutes to see if it needed anything.  I’d wake up early in the morning to feed it.  I’ve been addicted to the web, to IRC, right now I’m addicted to cigarettes.  Because I’m only addicted for a little while on these things they look like phases, but I am aware of how much actual time I’d spend doing these things, and I knew that I had to stop, as it was starting to become an unhealthy part of my life.

Maybe because I could stop it was more of an obsession than an addiction.  I don’t know the medical terms.  I just know that I never wanted to deal with becoming dependent on alcohol.  I’m really glad I don’t like the taste.

[db]

Our apartment complex has started recycling.  Now we can recycle cans and paper of any kind.  This has increased the amount of trash in our house tenfold.  Usually one bag gets full, maybe two bags and then we change the kitty litter and take it all out to the dumpster.  Now there’s the trashcan, the little trashcan that’s just for cans, the bag next to the little trashcan for when the cans fill up, the earth-friendly SXSW bag that holds paper and eight 12-pack boxes stacked on top of each other with a newspaper resting on top.  So now, to take out the trash, it has become an ordeal.  I can’t do it in one trip.

Sometimes I’ll try and take one bag out with me on my way to work, and I’ll usually take the aluminum cans, since it’s light, and I’m in a hurry and dressed for work and all.  Have you ever dumped a bag of aluminum cans into a dumpster at seven-thirty in the morning?  It’s loud. Real loud.  Then I still have to get my hands dirty because inevitably three of the cans stick to the inside of the bag.

Then I start feeling bad that I’m making such a clatter, so I’ll turn the apartments and yell, “Sorry!”  Like that’s going to help anything, but I want them to know I’m a good person.

I am the worst neighbor in the world, I swear to God.

[db]

Cathy’s fish died yesterday.  She’s had that fish forever, really.  You tend to forget it’s around because she kept it in a small tank on her bedroom dresser.  I mean, it’s a really tiny tank. When she has clothes or something on the dresser, like spare change or whatever, you don’t even notice there’s a tank. So you rarely see it, and it’s not like she sits around going, “Oh, that reminds me, this one time, my fish–”

Fish don’t usually do things that merit stories.

But Cathy’s fish did.

We were driving home from work yesterday talking about who is going to take care of her house when her and Chuy go on their trip to Cancun.

[scripty]
CATHY
Yeah, it’s just a lot to take care of the cats.

PAMIE
And the fish.  Don’t forget the fish.
[/scripty]

That’s a little joke because the first time I took care of their house they forgot to tell me their was a fish, and it wasn’t until the third day or so that I saw him floating around.  I never saw the tank on the dresser and I totally forgot!  I mean, it’s a little tank, you know?  I panicked and dumped at least five days of food in his tank.  He came out, shook my hand, patted me on the shoulder and said, “You’re a good woman.”

[scripty]
CATHY
The fish died.

PAMIE
When?

CATHY
This morning.

PAMIE
Oh, no!

CATHY
Yeah, it’s been a rough day.

PAMIE
I’m sorry.  He lived a really long time, though.

CATHY
Yeah, he was really old.  He was so old his stripes faded off, but he was still alive.
[/scripty]

I thought for a quick second that my housekeeping had something to do with the fading of his stripes, but then I realized that I took care of that house two years ago, and I was just being paranoid.

[scripty]
PAMIE
He was really old.

CATHY
Yeah, I think it was my fault, too.
[/scripty]

Cathy has a history of killing pets accidentally.  I don’t know the whole story, but I do know whenever she thinks about getting some sort of fuzzy, small pet Chuy brings up the subject of hamsters and she gets real quiet.

[scripty]
PAMIE
Oh, no.  How was it your fault?

CATHY
Well, I was cleaning the tank and I think I just put him in too cold of water.  I think he had a heart attack.

PAMIE
Oh, that’s awful.

CATHY
Yeah.  He put up a good fight, though.

(pause)

PAMIE
What do you mean?

CATHY
Well, when I first put him in the water he kind of wiggled real fast, and then he floated to the top, so I kind of pushed him down, and he’d wiggle around and then turn over and float to the top, so I’d push him back down and then he’d wiggle around, turn over and belly up so I kept pushing him down.

PAMIE
Yeah.

CATHY
And then I realized that I was probably causing a slow painful death and I couldn’t bear to push him down and watch him struggle anymore, so I flushed him.

PAMIE
Well, maybe he’s living in the sewers.

CATHY
Yeah, but I just have a hard time walking through my bedroom now, because it’s not like you just miss the tank.

PAMIE
Well…

CATHY
So, now whenever I walk by I see it’s tiny empty tank still filled with all his stuff.

PAMIE
Let’s go get you a new fish.

 

I took her to Herpeton, which is an exotic pet store.   It’s filled with lizards and snakes and live crickets and big mice-eating things and all sorts of dead skin sitting on rocks.  Eric and I went in there once and were so creeped out by the whole experience– I was looking at the ferrets and when I turned around I was eye to eyes with thousands of uncaged crickets sitting in some buckets.  The only thing keeping them from attacking me and jumping on me all at once was their strange desire to let me live.

It’s so creepy in there that Eric and I have a common threat we give each other:

 

PAMIE
Can we go to Jack in the Box?

ERIC
Look, Whataburger is right here, and the line isn’t very long.

PAMIE
But I hate Whataburger’s fries.

ERIC
But we’re right here.

PAMIE
I know, but I waaaaaaant a grillllled sourdough burrrrger.

ERIC
But when we’re here you can do your Bobby Hill impersonation.  Look!  There’s the sign for the Grilled Chicken Club.

PAMIE
(in Bobby Hill voice)
“Dad?  Can I join the grilled chicken club?  Would you help me pay my dues?”

ERIC
“Dad?”

PAMIE
(in Bobby Hill voice)
“Dad!  Dad!  It’s back!  See the sign!  ‘The Grilled Chicken Club is back!’  I missed it last time, and I want to make sure I get signed up this time.  Would you help me do a carwash or somethin’?  Oh, I just want to be the Secretary of the Grilled Chicken Club.  That’s all I want in life.”

ERIC
Feel better?

PAMIE
No.  I want to go to Jack in the Box.

ERIC
I’ll make you sleep at Herpeton.

PAMIE
Oh.  Hey, what smells so good at Whataburger?
[/scripty]

I swear, Herpeton is the creepiest place on earth.  But I sucked up my fears to get Cathy a new fish, as I felt really bad about the death.  And for all of it’s exotic pets, Herpeton does not have exotic fish.  In the back there was a big aquarium with a sign:  “Goldfish!  Twenty-five cents each.  Must buy four.”

“Cathy, pick as many goldfish as you want,” I said.

“Can I take the ten dead ones floating by the water filter?”

I looked in the tank.  There were only about three live goldfish, and one of them gave me the finger.  Cathy spent the rest of the time cooing over the sugar gliders, which look like bats with cat tails.  I almost bought a rabbit.

And then I accidentally stumbled into the scariest aisle in Herpeton.

I was looking at a frog when I turned around to see what was behind me.  I saw a lizard who was up on his feet.  I walked over to look at it, when in my peripheral vision I saw a huge lizard at my feet pushing his head up towards me.  I screamed and jumped back– only to find that my killer lizard was a piece of driftwood.  It didn’t even look like a lizard, but part of me thought, “It’s a morphing lizard.  It can change back and forth from a piece of wood to a killer lizard.  Be careful.”

I moved away from the killer driftwood and stumbled into tiny little tupperware boxes.  I looked inside:  tarantulas and scorpions.  ICK!

“I hear tarantulas make good pets,” Cathy said.

“Yeah, but who keeps a scorpion for a pet?” I asked.  “I mean, you can’t play with it.  You can’t even touch it.  You can’t even clean the cage– you have to hope they’re just clean pets.  When one dies, you have to just wait for the others eat it, because you can’t put your hand in there EVER.”  (It’s all yours now, Matt…)

“I don’t know who would want a scorpion.”

“But what’s crazy is I can just come here, and for fifteen dollars I can buy a scorpion and BOOM!  Put it in your bed.  Stick it in your desk drawer.  I can by this huge cockroach here for ten dollars and BOOM!  Stick it in your hair.  I can be my own revenge business.”

I saw Cathy looking at me with what I thought was genuine fear, so I backed away from the cockroach that I was sure I was going to see in my nightmares and turned around to see stacks of tupperware boxes in a shelf.

“Oh, maybe they have some suppliiiiiiiiii oh, Cathy, look!”

The tupperware boxes were filled with living, breathing, moving snakes.   Each box was one big fear on top of another big fear.  So many snakes on top of each other, slithering around.  Some would push up to the plastic and threaten me personally.

Cathy pointed to one and made some rhyme about how that one has to be harmless because it’s got red stripes touching black stripes, but I don’t buy those childhood games and said, “I take it you don’t want a goldfish?”

“Not really.”

“Let’s go.”

And I made it out of Herpeton alive.  I can’t believe it, but I did.   All that, and no fish.  Terrible.

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