March 24, 2015


Stij enrolled me in DGNTFS, a Cooking Support Group.  DGNTFS stands for “Don’t Go Near That Fucking Stove!”
As you may well imagine, I didn’t hold out a whole lot of hope for this little piece of magic.
I arrived on the appointed day and time, and discovered that it was quite a large group.  I expected one or two other people, but there were fifteen!  I found an empty chair and sat next to a rather large woman whose hair was singed off.
“Interesting look,” I commented.
“Happened when I opened the oven to take out a turkey.  Didn’t know you couldn’t cook it at 700 degrees without this happening.”
“Really?  I didn’t realize that ovens could reach that temperature,” I said.
“Oh, they don’t.  I put it in my kiln I use for firing pottery.”
“How did the turkey come out?”  Only I would ask this question.
“Charred black with a nice glaze.  I’m making a lamp out of it.”
“Well, at least it didn’t go to waste.”
“My husband would beg to differ,” she said. “So what are you in for?”
“Possibly because I accidentally burned my cooking school to the ground. But I think the real reason is either my bread that ate the sofa or my exploding lasagna.” 
“Wow, you’re hard core,” the fellow on my left said.  “There are only a couple of other people here who can do that!”
“Well, I don’t mean to.”
“As a matter of fact, one of them just got offered a great job in munitions.”
“I wonder if she’d like my lasagna recipe,” I said.  “And why are you here, if I may ask?”
“I sealed my driveway.”
“What does that have to do with cooking?”
“I sealed it with my beef gravy.”
At that moment, the moderator walked in.  He was wearing a flak jacket, asbestos pants, an army issue helmet, bullet proof safety glasses and steel-toed boots.  Strapped to his belt was a stomach pump and a taser.
“Good morning, group.  Before we get started, might I inquire as to who made the refreshments for today?”
A little old lady with massive burn scars timidly raised her hand.
“And might I inquire, Maude, as to exactly what they are supposed to be?”
She placed a device against her scarred throat.  “They’re cupcakes,” she replied in a robotic voice.
“I see,” he said.  “Now, class, what does Maude need to know about cupcakes?”
“They shouldn’t move on their own?” a young woman in a “Screw Gordon Ramsay” tee-shirt ventured.
“That’s correct.  Are you paying attention, Maude?”
She nodded, withdrawing a pad and pencil from her pocketbook, and jotting down notes.
“Okay, what else?
“They should be made from flour?”
“Very good, Steven.  Unlike these.”  He struggled to lift one, and it slipped out of his hands and went right through the floor…and the basement.
“They should have sugar in them?” a middle-aged woman with three fingers missing asked.  She must be the other one with the exploding food.
“Well, Gloria, I think that’s probably a moot point where these cupcakes are concerned.
Apparently, each session was to be a dissection of the cooking of whoever drew the short straw for refreshments.
They call this ‘tough love.’
More like ‘tough cupcakes,’ in my opinion.
After a few more rounds of criticism, poor Maude got so angry that she threw her buzzer out the window to inform us that she wasn’t speaking to any of us anymore.
“Our time is up for today. I think I’ll ask our new member to bring next week’s refreshments.  Is that all right with you, Carson?”
“It’s fine with me.  But my husband may be another story.”
“Oh, you’ll have to get a permission slip from him, and an affidavit stating that your fire insurance is paid up.”
“Just drop them by during the week.  My office is…was…in the basement.  Ask at the front desk.  They’ll let you know where I am.”

Stay tuned, folks.  Next week should be pretty interesting.

March 18, 2015


 I’ve always wondered something, and have never been able to come up with a reasonable explanation.
Why can’t men just get out of cars?
Whenever we arrive somewhere, I open up the door, and hop out.
Then, the waiting begins.
First, Stij adjusts the mirror.  Why he does this is a mystery to me.  He has to use the side mirrors to drive, because our truck has a cap on it and the bed is packed to the gunwales with things like saws, tool boxes, spackle, paint, and the decomposing body of his ex-wife.  Therefore, the rear view mirror is out of the question.
Next, he takes off his seat belt, gazing down at it as if he’s never seen it before and is unsure of how to work it or even what its purpose is. Finally, he takes it off.
Next, he checks the glove box.  There is nothing in the glove box, there never has been anything in the glove box, but he checks it anyhow.  Perhaps in the vain hope that something he has lost will suddenly turn up there.  But no, not today.  He closes it.
Then he adjusts the radio.  We haven’t been listening to the radio, but he adjusts it anyway.
Then he checks his phone.  It hasn’t rung during the trip, but he figures he might  have hit some sort of mute button by mistake and may have missed a call from his brother inviting him to a camping trip which he will never, until Satan skates to work, ever agree to go on.
Finally, he opens the door, but not all the way.  It kind of hangs there in partially open door limbo for five minutes or so, until he closes it again, to reach around and fumble about in the back seat…presumably for some Febreeze to take the edge off the ex-wife in the truck bed.
The door opens all the way!  At last, we’ll be able to get inside to his sister’s dinner party before dessert.
But no, he realizes he still has his sunglasses on, so the door closes while he takes them off and stows them in the compartment between the seats.
Is it at this point that I grow impatient.
I wrench open the door and scream, “What are you doing in there?  Forging a Van Gogh?  Come on, already!”
And you know what he says?
“Well, I was just waiting for you.”

Funeral services will be held at Elysian Memorial Gardens at two o’clock this Sunday.

March 10, 2015


I've discovered something awful about myself.
I am not a deep person.
There are puddles deeper than I am.
I had this epiphany by way of a trip of the Museum of Modern Art's annual show-and-sale in New York (MOMA [pronounced "MOE-Ma"] to those "in the know").  I was accompanied by an excruciatingly bohemian friend of mine, and was anticipating my first foray into modern art with all the excitement of a five-year-old about to meet Mickey Mouse.
Now, I have always favored Renaissance and Flemish art, and I must say that, despite my eagerness for exposure to new things, the trip was less an outing than a rude awakening.
The first room we ventured into contained a huge pink faux marble Formica slab, just leaning against the wall.
"Come on," I said to my companion.  "We'd better go to another room.  They're renovating in here."
"Oh, just look at that!"
"At what?"
"That incredible statement about isolation. Doesn't it just speak to you?"
She pointed at the pink monolith.  It was incredible all right.  I sure didn't believe it.
"That?  The only thing that says to me is that someone is getting ready to install a counter!"
My comment was met with an indignant huff.
After she had spent the requisite amount of time drinking in the beauty and profundity of this "creation," we proceeded to our left where, in a trail on the floor, were a dozen or so large, pieces of slate.  I, of course, walked on them.
"Please, Madam!" a distressed museum guard shouted, running up and grabbing me by the back of the coat.  "Don't touch the exhibit!"
"The exhibit?"
"Yes!  The exhibit!"  He pointed to the floor.  "This piece is worth $250,000!"
I gingerly stepped off the stones and made a mental note to go home and cash in my sidewalk.  My friend and tour guide was nowhere to be seen, obviously fearing for her bohemian status in SoHo, should she be caught undead, with a pleb like me.
Bemused, I wandered on alone.  The next exhibit was a glass ball on a pedestal in the center of the room.  That was it…for the whole room!  It looked like the scene of a séance suddenly abandoned.  The descriptive card read, "Universal Teardrop," an apt name considering that the price tag on this baby would have brought not one, but many teardrops to the eyes of any self-respecting universe.  Shaking my head, I moved on.
The next exhibit was called, "Black Lemons."  Certain that I would find my former Camaro on display, you can imagine my surprise upon discovering hundreds of lemons--the fruit, that is--painted black and suspended from nylon filaments attached to the ceiling.  There were screens with black lemons painted on them.  There was a giant one in the shape of a chair.  There was even one that had a television set inside it.
It was beyond my comprehension that people would pay good money to see something that I could easily duplicate in my refrigerator after three or four weeks.
But the final exhibit…the piece de resistance, if you will, was the creation called, simply, "Cans."  The room was so littered with empty soda pop cans of every description that it reminded me of the trash compactor scene in "Star Wars."
After I recovered from the assault on my aesthetics, I noticed that this display was a favorite of the homeless people in the area; most of whom were clustered around the barred windows, undoubtedly toting up what they could get for it at their local redemption center.
According to the card, this pile of litter was purported to be an artistic representation of the creation of the world.
The other people in the room--the arty-fartsy Greenwich Village crowd, loved this stuff.  Some of the comments I overheard were:
"It was a good idea…a really good idea…but it isn't conclusive, is it?"
"Not conclusive?  How can you say that?  Look at it!  Have you ever seen a more succinct explanation of the origin of the species?  It's all right there in that arrogant arrangement of the Pepsi and Mountain Dew cans!"
"Oh, don't you just adore Steinputz?  I think this is the most meaningful thing he's ever done!"
God, I felt sorry for Steinputz.
While I was standing there, a MOMA official whisked in and announced that this exhibit had just been sold for $45 million!  There was respectful, subdued applause.
I wondered if they'd deliver it in a garbage truck.
Fed up, I decided to try a little experiment.  I stood in front of a steel door with an EXIT sign above it, and just stared at it.  After a while, someone walked up to me, looked at the EXIT sign, then at me, then at the EXIT sign again.
"What are you looking at?" he asked.
"Only the clearest explanation of death I've ever seen!" I replied, never taking my eyes off the sign.
He looked again.  "Why, yes, you're right!  I can't understand how I could have missed something this fabulous!  Oh, Enid, come over here and look at this.  It's magnificent!"
In less time than it takes Andy Warhol to sneer at Andrew Wyeth, I had been joined by an army of creative cognoscenti, all babbling about this "masterpiece" before us.
I thought I had seen everything until people started bidding on it.
I heard later that the door and the EXIT sign sold for $1.5 million.
There is no doubt in my mind that somewhere P.T. Barnum is rolling on the floor, laughing himself sick.

March 3, 2015


Long before I met and married my husband, I’d heard many people say positive things about being a step-parent, so I wasn’t terribly reluctant to accept a date with a divorced man who clearly wanted to remarry.
He had one child.
An only child—probably because the kid had killed and eaten his siblings.
This urchin was Beelzebub’s version of the Prince of Wales.  Believe me, when this kid takes over, the prior administration will look like the cast of Oklahoma!
I met Damien when he was five going on 666.  The first thing he did was bite my leg . . . hard.  As I writhed in pain, what did Daddy say to Precious?
“Now, Damien, that wasn’t very nice.  I think we might need a time-out, don’t you?”
The changeling had bitten me and Pop was negotiating with him!
Yeah, give him a time out, I thought.  Because then he gets back in the ring, he’s gonna get such a punch!
Damien replies, “NO!”
“Now, Damien . . .”
“I said, ‘NONONONONONONONONONONONONO!  What are you?  Stupid?”
You know what his father did then?  No, not give him a swat where he needed it most.  Not hauling the little fiend off to his room.  Not revoking television privileges for a week.  No.  He looked at this excrescence, squatted down, and chucking, gave him a big hug!
So father and son are having a Kodak moment, and I have been completely forgotten.  Great.  I limped to the phone to call my doctor before sepsis set in, and I’d just reached his office, when Damien’s father snatches the receiver out of my hand and hangs it up.
“What are you doing?” he hissed, between clenched teeth.  “Don’t you know how badly it will affect his self-esteem if you go calling the doctor every time he plays with you?”
Plays with me!  The little bas. . . boy. . . bit me!”
“He’s only five!  He’s just a child!  Don’t you think you’re acting rather immaturely, blaming a child?”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Cawson?” a meek little voice called.
“What is it, Damien?” I asked.
“I sowwy.”  He had on an ultra-innocent look that did not fool me for a second.  But fooling Papa with it was a no-brainer.
“Now, see that?  Don’t you feel just terrible about what you were going to do?  How do you think it would have made him feel?”
Probably victorious, I thought.  Then I said, “All I wanted was some advice on what I should do about this bite.  Oddly enough, I felt that my doctor would be able to give me that advice . . . and probably a stitch or two.”  Blood was pouring from my leg like white water down the Colorado River.
Damien took one look at the blood and launched into hysterical crying.  I got a black look from his father, as if the entire mess were my fault.  So while he comforted the demon seed, I found my way to the bathroom, dumped some rubbing alcohol on the tear that was spurting arterial blood, bit down on a towel to keep from screaming, grabbed some dental floss, threaded a needle and stitched myself up.
When I returned to the scene of the crime, Damien’s father was conspicuously absent.  “Where’s your father?” I asked.
“Oh, he left.  He had to go to the store to buy me some candy.  He always does just what I want because he loves me,” the pestilence said.
“Really,” was all I could muster.
“Hey, you wanna play a game?”
“Does it involve guns or knives?”
“Naw!  Let’s play baseball!”
An hour later, Damien’s father still hadn’t returned; I imagine because sulfur-flavored bubble gum was hard to come by.  Though my leg had stopped bleeding, I was now the proud owner of two compound fractures and a life-threatening concussion as a result of Damien’s facility with a Louisville Slugger.  When he said, “Let’s play baseball,” I had no idea that I was meant to be the ball.
The second or third time I drifted into consciousness, the father of this human nightmare was standing over me, looking disgusted.
“Can’t you be a little more careful?  I leave the house for ten minutes. . . “
“Two hours, by my watch,” I said as clearly as I could with a mouthful of broken teeth.
“Damien said you fell down.  Have you been drinking?”
I found some strength from somewhere.  “Fell down!?  Fell down!?  Your little delinquent smacked me around with his baseball bat!”
“YOU’RE NOT MY MOTHER!” Damien shouted.
“You bet your butt I’m not, and I’m glad!  I feel sorry for your mother.  Giving birth to you must have been painful, what with the horns and the hooves. . .”
“I think you’d better go.  You are obviously not suited to be a parent.  You don’t understand Damien’s sensitive nature.”

“Oh, sure I do.  I know he loves music . . . he plays you like a violin.”
“That’s enough.”
I couldn’t resist.  “You’re not my father!”
Then I crawled into the house and called for an ambulance.  When I gave the operator the address, she sighed.
“Jesus Christ, hasn’t somebody killed that kid yet?”
“I don’t think it’s possible without a vat of holy water and an exorcist.”
“I guess I shouldn’t complain.  He practically keeps this ambulance service in business singlehandedly.”
“Oh, yeah.  Last month we had fifteen calls to that address.  The month before, we. . .”
“You know, as fascinating as this is, I really need to get to a hospital soon.”
“Right. Ambulance on the way.  Just lock yourself in the bathroom and sit tight.  If that guy would just stop dating, it would save all of us a lot of grief.  Well, bye, hon.  Good luck.”
After I got out of the hospital I sent Damien and his father a couple of gifts.
For Dad, I sent a life-size female-shaped piñata.
For Damien, I sent over a pissed-off wolverine.
When last I heard, it was still recovering at the vet’s.