other parts of my trip
Last Friday afternoon was spent cleaning the house. I hate going on vacation and coming home to a dirty house. So I was cleaning and preparing for the carpet cleaners. I was in the guest bathroom scrubbing the tub. I put my hand in so I could reach the other side. I looked down at my hand and saw a scorpion. At least that’s what my panic reflex told me. I screamed and dumped a bucket of Pine Sol on top of it. That’s when I saw it was actually a very large orange spider. I turned on the shower and aimed it like a fireman, swirling the spider around the bathtub. I think I heard it start to sing an old Irish drinking song. I kept yelling. Taylor put his head over the top of the tub and circled his head around and around watching the spider’s water ballet. “Kill, Taylor, kill!” I shouted.
“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” he said, and went to eat some Cat Chow.
Once I was satisfied that the spider was down the drain– really down the drain– not halfway down the drain where it could come back to get me like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, the phone rang.
“Hi, sweetie!” It was Eric.
“Hi,” I plopped down on the futon.
What are you up to?
I just killed a huge spider.
The big spider in the bathroom?
The one on the ceiling?
Wait– you saw a spider in the bathroom and just left it there?
Well, I was in the shower, I had to get ready for work.
The back bathroom shower?
This spider wasn’t in the back bathroom, it was in the front.
I don’t think it ran all the way to the other bathroom.
What are you doing?
I’m going to the back bathroom.
I don’t know if that’s such a good id–
OH, MY GOD! THERE’S A BIG HUGE SPIDER ON THE CEILING!
Yes, really, it’s the one you left here to kill me.
It’s not going to kill you.
Oh, look at the size of this thing!
I’ve gotta go.
Right. Just set your little trap to let this thing attack me.
It hasn’t moved in three days.
It’s been there for THREE DAYS? You didn’t do anything about it?
I’ve really got to go.
I can’t believe you didn’t kill that thing!
You’re gonna be fine.
What’s going on?
Which one of it’s legs is wrapped around your neck?
All!… filled with…venom….killing me….
Goodbye, my love….goodbye….forever…
See you at five.
That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Then you get to bury my body somewhere and file a missing person’s dealie.
And when they find your body it turns out some crazed spider choked you and buried you.
See? You’ve been planning this for a while haven’t you?
I’m hanging up now.
I learned on this trip that I should never ever talk to strangers.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m no good around them. I try and make small talk and I come off like a big loony. I don’t think I’m being loony, but apparently I always end up talking to the person that just doesn’t want to talk to me. On the airplane on the way to Baltimore we were on a plane that was split into three sections: First class, then the section we were in which looked like any other coach section with tiny chairs and no leg room, and behind us were just a series of foldy chairs and ropes dangling from the ceiling that they could hang onto so they would survive take off.
I didn’t notice that the third section was any worse off than we were until it was time for us to get our “snack.” Our chairs couldn’t lean back because we were at the very last section of our plane. I was turned around trying to get comfortable when I saw the third section of passengers. They were all very quiet, staring straight ahead. A few wore headphones, and were craning their necks forward to see the tiny monitors hanging from our section of the plane showing an episode of “Dharma and Greg.”
“Those people don’t have tables,” I said to Eric.
“Baby, stop staring at them.”
I noticed that the people in the front of the coach section had regular potato chips, and I had been given barbecue flavored. I’m not a big fan of barbecue, so I stopped the flight attendant:
Excuse me, do you have any regular potato chips?
(turning to Eric, but maintaining volume)
Well, I know she’s lying, because I can see three rows up, and they have regular potato chips.
(attempting “customer service”)
Oh, I guess there were regular potato chips, but we don’t control what’s in the bags. We just hand them out.
But could I trade–
We don’t pack them, they come that way. I mean, can you imagine how long it would take for us to pack these bags for you?
She laughed a little and walked off, not answering any of my questions, but telling me in her own way to shut the fuck up. I looked behind me to see if I could trade with the third section. They were all still very sad and staring straight ahead. One girl and the boy next to her were looking at me.
“You guys don’t get fed?” I asked.
They didn’t move.
“Baby, leave those people alone,” Eric said.
“But I don’t think they get fed. What’s up with that?”
“I don’t know. Hand me that ‘GQ.’”
I turned back around to the couple. “Do you guys want my food?”
The boy’s jaw just went slightly more slack, while the girl narrowed her eyes. “No,” she hissed at me.
“Baby, stop flirting with that girl’s boyfriend,” Eric pulled on my arm.
“I’m not flirting with anyone.”
“Leave her boyfriend alone.”
“I’m talking to her, not her boyfriend. Her boyfriend isn’t even aware he’s on a plane.”
“You should probably stop talking to people.”
“Why does everyone on this plane hate me?”
Later I was in an airport gift shop killing time while Eric made a phone call. I found a table of bargain discounts which had some very cute framed Curious George posters. I was debating if they were really worth fifteen dollars each when I found an Elvis bracelet. One of my co-workers is a crazy Elvis fan, and I try to get her things if I find them. This was a charm bracelet that had all of the best parts of tacky Elvis. It had some fuzzy dice, and some guitars and cars and a lei– it was that great cheap looking gold. I found the tag. “All Shook Up.” Great. I found a gift. I checked out the price tag.
I thought for sure that they meant six dollars and forty cents until I found what the original price was. One hundred and ten dollars. My eyes widened and I turned to the woman standing next to me holding a box.
“This thing is sixty-four dollars!” I said incredulously, holding the item out for her to scoff.
She kept her eyes glued to mine, nodded very faintly and then made a wide semi-circle around me to stay as far away from me as she could while still being in an aisle.
“You know, he’s right,” I said to her. “I shouldn’t talk to anyone.”
I left the store to find Eric, and dragged him back to the bargain table.
“How much do you think this is?” I asked, happy to have someone play my game.
“I don’t know. Five dollars?”
“Yeah, I know.” I was getting louder. I made eye-contact with the bitch with the box. “She didn’t even care.”
“Let’s go, baby.”
I am only trying to be friendly with strangers. I don’t want any of them thinking that I’m ignoring them or whatever.
Eric’s mom’s friend was on this trip to Baltimore and I’ve completely fallen in love with her. She has this way of looking at things and combining it with exactly what you want to hear. It would make a great sketch, but I can’t get her character down. It’s her voice that I can’t get just right. She’s got this Pittsburgh accent combined with a sort of high-kinda warbly voice and a lisp. It sounds so perfect. She makes everything sound very pithy, and I can’t get it right. You’d be like, “I don’t know what movie I want to go see,” and she’d look at you, touch you on the arm and say:
“Well, it’th like I thay to my daughter… thometimeth it’th Wednthday before you know it.”
Disney is so pissed they didn’t create her. She’s like a fairy godmother wrapped up in a fortune cookie. You don’t always make the connection, but you still know it’s very profound.
That’s the kind of parent I’d like to be. I always have an answer for everything, but sometimes the answer makes the questioner have to decide what the answer means. Then you aren’t just giving out answers, sometimes you’re just nudging people in the right direction.
It had been a long time since I was really out of the south and mixed with the Northeast culture. Eric had commented that he’s now pretty used to the Southern accent and it doesn’t grate on him, but when he hears a thick Chicago or Jersey accent it still makes his spine shiver a little. I love the Jersey accent. I don’t mind any Northeast accent, actually. I still go a little batty at the Southern accent.
And I’m not talking about a little drawl. A little twang and drawl is fine with me. It’s the kind like my neighbors have, where the women meow when they talk. “Neeeooooo, we ar’nt gonna doooo thaaaat, neow, arr we? Neeoo.”
And then the men talk like they are dogs locked in a small room. “Auh. Auh. Auh. I’m seorry. Nah, I didn’t see ya thar.”
Like dogs and cats. “Meow. Meow. Meow. Wuh. Wuh. Wuh.”
But I really liked how the ceremony went, as it sounded like Woody Allen was giving the opening address. “Oh, it’s very exciting to be here. Welcome the graduating class of 1999.” Eric liked the woman who went up right after to announce the names. She had that thick smoky “Coffee Talk” voice like the cafeteria woman in The Simpsons.
From Aaron Aaronsberg in Architecture to Zeke Zuckerman in Zoology, she did them all. Sometimes they’d hug her. “Thank you, sweetheart.”
You can’t write stuff like this because no one would believe it.
When we were standing around during hour four of Kevin’s graduation Eric nudged me and pointed at the family next to us. “Look, don’t these people look like they’re all headed over to the Soprano’s now? Like they all came here for Meadow’s graduation?”
They looked like they had just stepped off the television. There was the pudgy kid, the blonde mom, the overweight, sweaty aloof dad who kept looking around, the elderly grandparents, one aunt, one uncle, and they were all talking at the same time.
“Where is your grandfatha?”
“I don’t know.”
“When you went to the bathroom did you see granpa in there? Was he in the bathroom?”
“I DON’T KNOW!”
They all walked off arguing and talking together, the father still turning around and checking out all angles.
“That’s too much,” I said to Eric.
“Look, there’s Uncle Pussy,” he pointed.
I hit him on the arm. “What, no fuckin’ ziti?”
I wish we had taken a picture.