Monday, December 5, 2011

Waiting for the Walkers

If you're anything like me, you started going through withdrawals well before the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.  I'm pretty sure I had to reach for my inhaler at the mere mention of those words.  How will we ever survive until the best show on TV starts back up?  Here are a few ideas that will help prepare you for the impending zombie apocolypse.

1.  Get thee to the Shooting Range.  If you don't already have a gun, get one.  If you have a gun, learn how to use it really, really well.  Make sure you can reload in the dark while hoardes of undead shuffle ever nearer.  And stock up on ammo, while you're at it.  You don't want to have to resort to thwacking Walkers over the head with your shiny new rifle.

2.  Gas up the car.  In the event of a zombie apocolypse, you don't want to be left trying to figure out how to syphon gas from the neighbor's car, so fill 'er up now!  Might I suggest buying a couple of gas cans and filling them up, too?  It can't hurt to be prepared!

3. Install a wood stove.  When the power grid goes down, the winter will be looking very long without heat.  Make sure you have plenty of wood, and stack it somewhere handy.  No sense having that long argument about whose turn it is to run across the yard in the dark to grab a couple logs, especially if the logs are apt to turn into weapons when you find a Walker in the woodpile.

4.  Make sure you have clean underwear.  Seriously, keep up on your laundry.  Otherwise you're apt to end up wearing smelly old clothes long before you have to.  Do you really want to try to do your wash in the local creek?  And don't even think of hanging could hide a whole hoard of Walkers behind them!

5.  Check out the local real estate market.  Go for a little drive and decide whose house you plan to commandeer once the zombies have cleared the usual inhabitants.  Look for one made of sturdy materials, preferably stone, with a wood stove and small windows you can board up easily.  And remember, "Location, Location, Location".  You don't want your new stronghold in a too densely populated area.  Lots of people means lots of Walkers.  I'm looking for one with a nice open lawn that will allow me to see them coming from a long way off...and maybe a moat.

6.   Fill the pantry.  Make sure you have plenty of canned goods and several hand operated can openers, too.  Although, in a pinch, you could try to get a zombie to chew the tops off a few cans for you.

7.  Make sure you have access to clean water.  A well would be good.  Two or three would be better.  After all, we all saw what happened to the well at the farm.  No Brita filter is going to make zombie flavored water drinkable.  I suggest a basement full of bottled water to compliment the wells, just in case.

8.  Learn a new trade.  When the zombies come, the world won't have much use for accounting skills.  Best to take it old school.  Learn how to make your own clothes or repair CB radios.  Maybe you could memorize morse code in case you need to send your neighbor messages using a flashlight in the dead of night.  Something like, "By the way, I just saw a Walker climb in your basement window".

9.  What about the farewell drugs?  Find out the actual names of any important medications in your life, not just the fancy names the pharmaceutical companies market them under.  If you ever have to bust into a pharmacy and load a backpack with antibiotics and morning after pills, make sure you don't go home with diuretics and speeders...although that might make things interesting for a little while, until you're eaten alive, of course.

10.  Get in shape.  You never want to be the slow guy who gets eaten by zombies while your fit friends make their getaway. Registered & Protected

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cross Country

This is written in response to this week's Dare to Share Linkup: For the Love of Country from The Lightning and The Lightning-Bug.

In 1997, I made one of the smartest moves of my life. I quit my job and drove cross country with my friend Carla in my Toyota Tercel. The car barely survived the journey, our friendship didn't, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

There's no better way to change the direction of your life than to go on a good long trip, or so the theory went. So, Carla and I armed ourselves with some AAA triptiks and a brand new Atlas, loaded the car with clothing appropriate for every climate and an unhealthy selection of snacks and drove out of the freezing Upstate New York winter in search of warmer climes and new adventures.

What we found was a sense of Freedom that I will never forget. Highway after highway, we ran the roads from New York to New Orleans, from San Antonio to San Diego, north to San Francisco and back around via Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

Me, hanging out at the Audubon Zoo.
We drank Hurricanes at Mardi Gras, and ate some of the worst Mexican food ever prepared in El Paso, Texas. We attended amateur strip night at a gay bar in San Francisco, and watched an old woman feed the birds in Seaport Village in San Diego. We saw leucistic alligators at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and took a tour of the Alamo.  We visited a giant redwood forest, and some old friends we hadn't seen in years.

All directions in Marietta, GA are given in relation to The Big Chicken.

There are a few moments that stand out, even better than all the rest. I remember driving on I-10 across Texas and the euphoria that came over me. The long, flat road and open sky stretched out before me like a world of possibility. In that moment, I could feel how limitless my future was, how much there was in the world worth exploring. I think of that moment and I catch a wisp of that feeling again, enough to put a smile on my face all these years later.

Somewhere in Southern California, we were stopped and asked if we were transporting any fruit or illegal immigrants.

Another highlight was our visit to the Grand Canyon. We approached the canyon through a late February Arizona snowstorm.   As we walked along the snow-covered pathways, the fog rising up from the quickly melting snow was so thick we couldn't see more than the dark outlines of trees ahead of us. Suddenly, I realized that the dark shadows were gone. We stopped and squinted into the wall of white as a light wind came through and blew a hole in the fog. There, not ten feet in front of us, was the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Watch out for that first's a doozy!

The Grand Canyon is big. Really friggin big. Big like you can't imagine unless you've seen it for yourself.  I looked down into that giant hole and saw the snow at the top gradually disappear into the desert landscape at the bottom, a mile below where I stood.  I saw tiny figures moving slowly along narrow paths and realized they were people riding donkeys.   There is a sense of awe and majesty that takes over me looking at natural beauty on such a, well, grand scale...  I could stare at it all day, with the same ridiculous smile plastered to my face.   I wish I could say I had some kind of epiphany, realized something huge about myself,  but I didn't.  I just stood there in the snow, smiling as the fog lifted and the true expanse of the Canyon became evident. That was enough.

Oh, the stories I could tell you about San Francisco...

It wasn't all good.  Carla and I bickered more and more as time went by. I guess it's only natural, spending that much time together. I wanted to keep going, be spontaneous, chase after silly adventures along the way.  Carla got tired of the road.  She wanted to go home, resume a normal life. I could have lived like that forever, just wandering the world.

Holly Springs, Mississippi earns the dubious distinction of being the worst place we stayed.  It was after an exhausting fourteen hours of driving that we saw the sign for the Holly Springs Inn.  Sounds nice, doesn't it?  We stumbled into our room, hardly able to keep our eyes open any longer.  Carla immediately pulled the blanket back on her bed and found blood stains spattered across the sheets.  The locks on the doors had obviously been broken and replaced many times and a red sticker bearing the phone number of the local police department was affixed conspicuously next to the dead bolt.

Turning off the lights was not an option as we sensed the scurrying of cockroaches waiting for the cover of darkness.  I pulled my car up as close to the window as I could and lay on top of the blankets fully dressed, holding the curtain open just a smidge so I could keep an eye on everything we had in the world.  Over and over, all night long, we were treated to the booming bass of a car's stereo as it circled the parking lot.  Over and over, all night long, we heard knocking on the door of the next room, followed by a woman's slowly drawled, "Come on in".  A short time later, the door would open and close again.  Water would run. And then there would be another knock.  After a few hours of unrestful laying about, we got back on the road.

Our very last day, we were leaving my friend Barb's place in Martinsburg West Virginia when the car wouldn't start. We had to call for a jump, and then keep the car running all day, afraid it wouldn't start again if we cut the engine. All day, we took turns, one of us running into a rest area to eat or use the bathroom while the other stayed in the running car. Finally, we got in an argument over how much the toll was going to be when we got off the Thruway in Albany and that did it. We didn't speak for the rest of the trip, not even as Carla unloaded her luggage at her house and I drove off.

Two girls + one Toyota = Trouble

Carla and I have run into each other a few times since then, and we've been friendly, but we've never been friends like we were before that trip.  I guess we used up our lifetime's allotted friendship in that month and a half on the road.

Still, I feel the good far outweighed the bad and I'm glad to have experienced it...all of it.  Even the Holly Springs Inn.  I have so many amazing memories and crazy stories to tell because of that trip.  I also have a sense of confidence I might never have had if I hadn't undertaken a journey like that.  I mean, really, I'm pretty sure I can find my way around just about anywhere, having once managed to find my way all the way across the country and back again.

That trip is one of the few times in my life that I have gone for it, completely and utterly, holding nothing back and, consequently, it was one of the best experiences of my life.  Someday, I still hold out hope that I will have a similar trip around the northern part of the country.  There are still plenty of states left to explore. Registered & Protected

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dear 16 Year Old Me

This is written in response to The Lightning and The Lightning Bug:Flicker of Inspiration Prompt #5: A Letter to 16 Year Old You

If I could go back in time and somehow talk to my sixteen year old self, what wouldn't I try to tell her? It seems that so many of life's great regrets started way back then.

I would tell her to break up with the psychopath she's dating. I would tell her that he's even worse than she thinks. How would I explain to her that he will someday come to her house and hold a butcher knife to her throat? How will I convince her to get out now when I know that as soon as she ends the relationship he will begin a campaign of stalking and terror that will last for years? Could I get her to even begin to understand these things? Or that she will get through it?

How would I tell sixteen year old me that one psycho nut job won't be enough? That she will make some incredibly bad decisions when it comes to dating. That she will have another boyfriend who will cheat on her with one of her supposed best friends and generally treat her like crap...and that it will happen next year?

Could I convince her that she should just put dating on the back burner? Could I ever make her believe that if she put just a single ounce of her attention into her school work, she could own the world? How do you tell sixteen year old me that "good enough" isn't good enough?

Sixteen year old me thinks she's seen it all, she knows everything. Her parents have divorced. She has fought with her mother and stepfather and she has gone to court to legally change custody and move in with her dad. She has been humiliated by her classmates, and she has held her head high and laughed in spite of them. She has endured rumors, sexual assaults, and physical and mental abuse from her boyfriend. She went to prom with high gloves to try to hide the bite mark on her upper arm.

Sixteen year old me passes notes in class and makes a show of not paying attention. She refuses to turn in homework (but sometimes does it without handing it in), and aces all the tests. She's pretty sure most teachers want to strangle her. She likes that. That's how she wants them to feel.

She presides over her cafeteria table full of boys, the lunchroom her court, she the queen...sometimes handcuffing a loyal subject to the table. At least once, the handcuffs were taken away by the school Principal.

She is tired already, of having to be strong. She can't imagine how tired she will be by the time she is forty.

She doesn't think she will live past the age of seventeen. She is sure that AIDS or Nuclear War will have ended the world by next year. She loves the movie Red Dawn and secretly hopes to be a Wolverine.

She sits in her room and writes poetry, wishing for someone to love her so much that he will hold her and never ever let her go. She wishes for someone strong enough that she can trust them and lean on them and let them know all of the things she fears most...especially about herself.

If I could go back and talk to sixteen year old me, I would speak to her as her mother. I would tell her to forget about boys for awhile. She would be mad and she would stomp off and slam doors and blast loud music. She would try to sneak out and I would catch her. She would fight me and I would win, because I have her will and I have her strength and I know how hard life has been and how hard it will be later on and I won't let her settle for anything; because in the end, you get exactly as little you are willing to settle for out of life.

I would make her fight for the right things. I would make her focus on school, stop trying to trick her teachers and start learning. I would push her to do more, to do better. I would find a way to send her away to college. I would make her study languages, all the languages she wanted. She could be an interpreter. She loves languages. She wants to travel. I would tell her that this is the surest way for her to see the world.

I would warn her that her travelling days will be done for quite some time after she turns twenty and she won't be travelling anywhere farther than Albany for many many years. I would tell her that at forty she will still be dreaming of traveling somewhere exotic and far-away. I would beg her, on behalf of her older self, to do do her very best.

I would tell her not to start smoking next year, or any year. I would tell her to count up all the money that twenty years of tobacco addiction would cost her and to think about all of the places she could have gone and things she could have seen with that money.

I would warn her to stop the crazy starvation diets. I would tell her that no matter how little she eats, she simply won't get any thinner. She will, however, give herself an ulcer at the age of twenty.

I would hug her.

I would hold her as she fought against me. I would hold her until she gave in and realized that my love for her was real and that I had her best interests at heart.

If you are anything like sixteen year old me, I hope you happen to read this. I hope you realize that you hold immense potential within you and you are the only force in the world strong enough to stop you from attaining your goals, no matter how lofty they may be.

Believe in yourself.

That's what eighty year old me would tell forty year old me. Registered & Protected

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Text and Subtext

I used to write a lot of poetry...not so much any more. This one is pretty recent, though, written within the past year. I'm sharing this in response to a writing prompt from The Lightning and The Lightning-Bug. The Challenge today was to share a personal poem, so here it is.

Text and Subtext

He sent me a text message.

“Is it over?”

(whythefuckwouldyoutextmethat?) I thought.

And didn’t answer

I mean really, I don’t even have a keyboard on my phone.

How was I to respond?

Beep beep beep-beep-beep beep-beep beep-beep?


And that night he asks if I got his text


What text?, I asked, making a show of looking at my phone.

This one? Is what over?


Us. Is it over between us?


Why would you text me that?

Is it?


Maybe? Registered & Protected

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Taming of the Pew

My husband used to stink.  Mainly in the morning, but of course he was not totally devoid of body odor the rest of the day.  I used to joke that his stench woke up two minutes before him, so I always knew he was waking by the aroma of weasel ass that would waft from the bedroom, normally reaching my nostrils just as I was about to take a bite of my breakfast quiche, halting my fork in mid-air and causing my stomach to do a somersault.

The odor was just a part of our lives. Omnipresent, lingering, clinging to the bedsheets, waiting to leap out and take you by surprise like a gassy ninja.

A few weeks ago, I realized that the stench is gone. Gone.  Poof.  No more.

This is a very good thing, mind you.  It's just...where did it go?

Tommy said maybe it was the abscess, but I somehow doubt that abscess was sitting in his head for the past ten plus years. Was it the alcohol? At first I thought the abscence of beer in his diet had something to do with it, but the beer is back and the smell is still gone. Did the antibiotics kill all the stink-causing organisms on his body? Maybe. He's only been off the antibiotics a couple of days and the stink is still noticably absent. Could it be the tobacco? We'll see.

We'll see because my jackass of a husband has decided to start smoking again. He's out on the front porch stinking the place up even as I type.

He asked me not to write about his body odors any more, but I asked him not to start smoking or chewing again, so...well, you see the result.

I am anxiously awaiting the odor of unwashed primates to slowly return to my house. I figure it's only a matter of time. Registered & Protected

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Time Last Year: A Photo Blog

This time last year, I was living in Southwest Florida and I had flown back home for a visit.  I spent most of the week visiting with friends and family, getting to see everyone I missed, but I also spent a fair amount of time just looking at the place I had called home for most of my life with new eyes.

When you live in one place your whole life, even somewhere as beautiful as this, you tend to take it for granted.  Coming home to visit, I was overwhelmed by how many things I had simply ignored because I knew they were right around the corner.  One afternoon, I decided to drive to Pottersville and go to Natural Stone Bridge and Caves, a place I had always known about, but never visited.

Once inside, I walked a short distance down a path and scrambled up a hill to the first of the scenic viewing areas.  It took my breath away.  After the flatness of Florida, to see the rocky turrain of Upstate New York again was like magic.  I stood there for some time, drinking in the view, before heading back downhill, sweating in the unseasonal May heat.

As I walked along the rocky pathways, I was glad of the shade provided by the many trees along the way.  It seemed like such a lush, interesting landscape.  I wasn't sure how I had made it so far in life without realizing how special "home" really was.

I loved walking down into the cool seclusion of Noisy Cave, listening to the rushing of the water and breathing deep of the damp cave air.  I knew it was a well traveled place and that there were others walking the paths just outside, but for a few minutes it felt like my own secret hideaway.

Visiting a place I had never been before in my own "back yard", I felt an overwhelming love for the place I came from and a resolution not to let this feeling slip away.  Two months later, I was living back in New York.

I promise to continue to visit places I may have overlooked and places I had decided I had already seen and didn't need to pay attention to anymore.  I continue to be awed by the sight of the mountains that are the backdrop to everything in this part of the world.  I won't take home for granted any more. Registered & Protected

All photos were shot with my Canon 5D and 24-105mm zoom lens.  I used Photoshop Lightroom to adjust color and exposure wherever I felt it was needed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Little Something About Vampires

I wrote this a while back, some time shortly after Twilight came out.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the Twilight series...books and movies.  It's just that I felt like the whole Friendly Neighborhood Vampire thing had gone too far. 

Oooh, he's a NICE vampire.  He doesn't eat PEOPLE.  blech.

I felt like, if we continued in the direction we were going, all of the Vampires would be wearing dentures, blending in with humans, sucking on sterilized bags of blood.  I felt like somebody needed to give the Vamps their TEETH back.

And so, I wrote this.  Call it an excerpt from an unwritten manuscript, Call it a short story, Call it the scribbling of a madwoman,  whatever you like...just don't call my Vampires NICE.

So, without further ado, I bring you Vampires...With Teeth!

            The music was so loud that to even think of conversation was impossible.  Not that anyone in The Black Hole was there for conversation.  The strobe lights flashed across the dance floor, giving staccato outline to each movement of the dancers.  Sweat covered bodies writhed against each other, best friends and strangers all becoming part of the sea of bodies churning to the beat.  Through the crowd a solitary figure wound her way, not following the beat but stepping around it as she stepped around the dancers, looking for the right one.  Lights, purple, pink, then blue flashed across her sharp featured face, making the hollows of her cheeks appear that much deeper.
            Her eyes caught those of a young man, his damp hair clinging to his forehead, his face aglow with perspiration and the high of the evening.  She moved in close, dancing up against him, raising her arms, letting him run his hands along her body and through her long red hair.  She brought her hands down to cradle the back of his head, touching her face to his, sliding her mouth down to his neck where her tongue darted out from between her lips, tasting the salt of his sweat.

            He may have groaned in pleasure before his throat was torn open.  These things happen so quickly it’s hard to tell for sure.

            After dropping the body near the edge of the dance floor, Molly exited the club through the back door, stepping into the cool air of the darkened alley as she licked an errant streak of blood from her forearm.  She spotted Nick just as he let go of the lifeless form of a young girl, allowing her body to topple onto that of another girl already lying dead near the grimy back wall of the club.

            “No fair, you got a two-for?”  Molly raised an eyebrow, teasing but not teasing.  Jealous.  Nick stepped out of the shadows and kissed her.  Molly could taste the girl’s blood on his lips, and she clutched at him, falling into a frenzy of lust both of the body and the blood.

            He pulled away abruptly.  God, she hated it when he did that.  “Let’s get one more to go,” he said.

            “But I haven’t given you your present yet.”  Molly giggled and pulled something out of the pocket of her tight fitting dark wash jeans.  She extended her hand so Nick could see.  It was an earring.  A thick stainless steel hoop with an iron cross hanging from it.  It also had a bit of earlobe dangling from it.  “Oops,” she said, twisting the nugget of flesh off the hoop and letting it fall to the ground.

            “You found it,”  Nick said with a smile as he took the gory earring from Molly and pushed it through his earlobe. 

            Earlier in the evening, Nick and Molly had been hanging out at the mall, looking for something to do.  They had watched as a young man with unkempt brown hair got his ear pierced by a pretty young girl with too many tattoos at a kiosk near the food court.  As the young man flirted with the girl, he had no way of knowing that he’d been marked for death.  Nick had told Molly that he wanted that earring.  The scavenger hunt was on.

             When he left, they followed in their car to his apartment where they waited outside, climbing a tree to peer in his window while they laughed and hushed each other.  They could have taken him at any time, but they preferred to wait, to draw out the game.  After centuries of immortality, they needed to be innovative to keep things from getting stale.

            His cell phone rang, barely perceptible over the loud rock music he was listening to.  He used a remote control to turn down the stereo to talk.  “Ten o’clock.  The Black Hole.  I’ll see you there,” he said.  “Later.”  He turned the music back up and the vampires jumped silently down from the tree.  Later, thought Molly, as she and Nick skipped back to their car.

            “Come on, Nick, let’s play some Vampire Baseball!” shouted Molly.  The moon was full with not a cloud in the sky and Molly was standing in an empty field holding a human leg and a head that had presumably come from the same body.  She was tossing the head lightly up and down in her right hand.  “Pleeease.”
            “Knock it off, Molly.  That’s disgusting.”  Nick turned his back and started to walk away but stopped short when the head hit him in the middle of his back.  He spun around to glare at his companion, “You’re getting blood all over your clothes!  And mine, too, now!  It’s not funny!”
            Molly just laughed and started to peel off her clothes.  “So what?”
            “So, you don’t think we’ll draw a little more attention than we want walking around in blood soaked clothes?  Or naked?”
            Standing in the bright light of the moon without a stitch of clothing, Molly looked down at her blood smeared body.  The wet blood glistened in the moonlight.  “Oh look, I’m sparkling.”  She gave Nick her best innocent look, which, let’s face it, wasn’t very innocent.  But he finally relented and cracked a smile.
            “I’m not taking you to the movies any more,”  he said walking forward to kiss her.  “Let’s get cleaned up and go shopping.”
            “Oooh, goody!” squealed Molly, as she nipped his tongue.  “I love shopping.”

            After rinsing off in a nearby creek, the now soggy vampires walked down a trail toward town.  Molly was still naked, but Nick had opted to keep his clothes on, since they were fairly clean, aside from the spot where the head had hit the middle of his back.  Still in the woods, they could hear music and shouting up ahead and, as they continued, they could see firelight flickering through the trees.  “I hate keg parties,” Nick muttered out of the corner of his mouth. 
            The two snuck closer, hiding behind trees to watch.  Three teenaged boys stood close to the bonfire while two girls sat on the open back of a pickup truck with their feet dangling inches from the ground.  The girls were nursing their beers and whispering to each other.  One of the guys took his beer bottle and tapped it on top of another’s open bottle, causing a volcanic foam explosion.  “Chug it! Chug it!”  They chanted and hooted while the other cursed briefly before chugging the beer and tossing the empty bottle into the fire where it landed with a hiss.  “You guys are assholes!” he sputtered.  The girls paused to watch momentarily before going on with their conversation.
            Molly stood up and tapped her chin just below the left corner of her mouth, giving Nick a significant look.  Nick slowly straightened himself up, shaking his head slightly and rolling his eyes as if to say, “here we go again”, but instantly cocked back his arm and then pistoned his fist forward, smashing the appointed spot on Molly’s face.
            Molly took a half step back and gingerly touched the edge of her lip where she could feel a few drops of blood forming.  She smeared it down her chin for maximum effect, knowing the wound would heal almost instantly, and flashed a smile before running into the firelit circle.
            “Help me!  Oh God!  Please!”  she screamed as she grasped the unbuttoned flannel shirt worn by the young man who had just finished the beer.  The girls in the truck screamed and clutched at each other while the guys shouted choruses of “Jesus Christ!  What the fuck?!”
            “He’s right behind me!  You’ve got to help me!”  Molly clung to the flannel shirt, her eyes filled with tears.
            “Who’s behind you?  What the hell’s going on?”  her would-be savior stammered.
            The boy who had initiated the beer chugging walked to the edge of the clearing near where Molly had appeared, trying to see into the dark forest.  The girls had gotten down from the truck bed and were now huddled close to the two young men standing by the fire.  “Paul, don’t go out there,” said one of them.
            He glanced back and then immediately was swept out of sight by an unseen force, disappearing into the darkness with nothing more than a grunt.
            The girls shrieked and jumped, crying now, “Paul?  Paul?!!”  But there was no reply.  The remaining boys weren’t much better off, trying to act brave and feeling anything but.  Molly could smell the fear coming off them in waves and she started to laugh, a deep throaty laugh as she lightly touched her tongue to her razor sharp teeth.
            “Oops,” she said.  “There goes Paul.” She bit into the throat of the boy whose shirt she’d been clutching, bursting his jugular and sucking down the sweet juice of his life.
            Before the others could fully register what had just happened, Nick was upon the last of the boys, grabbing the sides of his head and snapping his neck.  As Molly finished her feast, Nick grasped the girls by the hair. “What’s it to be, Moll?” he asked.
            Molly licked the last of the blood from the boy’s neck and let his body drop to the ground before turning her attention to the whimpering, hysterical girls.  Both of them were wearing blue jeans of slightly different cuts.  One had a tank top with the words “Heart Breaker” emblazoned on the front, the other wore a plain white tee. 
            “I’ll have to try the jeans on,” she said, unbuttoning the pants of one of the girls. She unceremoniously ripped the jeans off the kicking, screaming girl and slid them on.  “Hmmm.  I’m not sure.  Let’s try the other’s.”  Molly started to repeat the procedure on the second girl but then wrinkled her nose and stopped.  “You peed your pants, you little pig,” she said as she dropped the girl’s legs in disgust.
            Molly gripped the girl by the throat, tearing her out of Nick’s grasp, leaving him with a few strands of brown hair twined around his fingers.  “You ruined my shopping trip,” she stated matter of factly, crushing the girl’s windpipe in her fist.  “The shirt’s still fine,” Molly sniffed as she pulled the tank top over the dead girl’s head.
            Nick was trying to shake the hair off his left hand while holding the last girl with his right.  Molly pulled the shirt on before plucking the hairs out from between Nick’s fingers.  She checked through the guys’ pockets until she found the keys to one of the pickup trucks and she and Nick climbed in with the girl wedged between them.
            “Dinner, a show, and a doggie bag for later.  You still know how to show a girl a good time, Nick.”
            Nick chuckled and leaned across the girl to kiss his lover.  He would do anything for his girl.

    Registered & Protected

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fear and Self-Loathing at the Buffet

Let's just get this straight right from the start: I hate buffets. Since my husband is recovering from a little impromptu brain surgery, however, I felt the need to give in and take him to the (ahem) restaurant of his choice.

As we pushed open the glass doors and walked into the entryway, my nostrils began to twitch. "What's that smell?" I asked, fearing the answer.  My husband just smiled as we walked through the roped off corral to the beginning of the feed line where we helped ourselves to a plastic cafeteria tray and some cups we then filled with the beverages of our choice. "Two?" droned the cashier, and I reluctantly forked over my cash.

"Where do you want to sit?" I asked with some trepidation, surveying the dining room.  "It doesn't matter," serenely replied my husband, seemingly oblivious to the over bright lights and obese herds stampeding the feed line. A panicked cry came from across the room, "I need more biscuits!".   Tommy plunked our drinks down on an empty table and we hesitated for just a moment before beginning our own attack on the buffet line.

I headed for the salad bar and filled up a plate with lettuce, red bell peppers, grilled chicken, bacon bits and croutons topped with Italian dressing. Tommy shot me a quizzical look before disappearing down the long meandering line of food.  I found my way back to our table and started happily munching on lettuce.  "This isn't so bad," I thought, just in time for Tommy to arrive with a plate piled high with ribs slathered in a variety of sauces.

He attacked the meat with an enthusiasm that slowly waned as it became evident that he had amassed a plate of gooey bones and fat with bits of meat binding them together. For some reason, this made me want to try and see if I could get better ribs than he had, as if there was a secret stash of meaty ribs somewhere that you could have if only you could mutter the password to a man in a trench coat and hat.  "Have the guy slice them for you.  I didn't get that kind," my husband offered helpfully.

I trotted off to ask "the guy" to chop a hunk of rib onto my blue plastic plate as Tommy half-heartedly picked at his bones.  When I arrived back at the table, I tagged Tommy in and he left me to make his next selections.

I found that the ribs from "the guy" were indeed a bit better than the ones my husband had been subjected to, but still nothing to write home about. I had also acquired a greasy, overcooked ear of corn and an oddly chewy baked potato.  Meanwhile, Tommy came back with roasted chicken, stuffing and sweet potatoes with a generous coating of gravy, most of which he seemed to enjoy.  While we ate, I indulged in a little people watching.  I was fascinated by the old man in the corner who had a stack of empty plates beside him and what appeared to be a single potato on the one in front of him. The woman at the next table had a heaping plate of deep fried zucchini which she, apparently, thought was finger licking good.  Tommy noted that the employees were all getting just salad bar.  "Do you think they know something we don't?" he asked.  Just then, the speaker system blared out a message, "Everybody wish a Happy Birthday to Robin Jones!  Happy Birthday, Robin!" and I had flashbacks to the County Fair.  The feed line, the staticky announcements on the PA system interrupting the country music, the smell of was all too much.

I glanced back into the corner.  The old man had finished his potato and gone back up for seconds.  As I watched, he came back to his table with a solitary piece of chicken.  The woman at the next table had refilled her plate with more deep fried zucchini.  By now, I was working on my third plate; an eclectic mix of spicy orange chicken, Mexican rice, and lasagna.  As I pushed food around on my plate, my mind drifted and I started thinking up new slogans for the eating establishment we had chosen.  "Just like homemade...if you grew up in prison" or "Just like your mom used to make...if your mom wasn't much of a cook," came to mind.  And yet, for some reason, I was drawn once again to refill my plate...again and again.

Are you sure that was Pineapple?

And that, my friends, is the magic of the buffet line, its raison d'etre, the secret to its matter how terrible the food, you can always go back and fill your plate with something else.  Hope springs eternal at the buffet line, as do heartburn and regret.  Because, however little you may eat of your dried up pecan crusted tilapia or the oddly chewy baked potato, you have still managed to help yourself to a dozen plates of tepid, mediocre fare and consumed approximately enough to feed an Ethiopian village for a month without ever feeling sated because you never found anything that tasted very good.  You found quantity over quality and you found it to be unsettling to the stomach.  You look around you and see dissatisfied faces with double and triple chins.  You see wrinkled noses sniffing the contents of plates trying to figure out why their corn on the cob smells of grease.  And yet, you go back for more, because, for god's sake, it's All You Can Eat and you can still eat more and maybe, just maybe, there's something good up there at that ten mile long line of warming trays!

I discretely unbutton my jeans and fill a plate with chocolate lava cake and self-loathing...maybe dessert will be better. Registered & Protected

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