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breaking up with the blog

After an eight year, on-again off-again relationship, I think it’s finally time to kill this thing once and for all. Mostly because there are other places I want to give my time to, and this is all just ending up to be repeats, anyhow.

So where can you find me?

Almost daily at This is Not Pitchfork.
Very often on tumblr, which is sort a replacement for this thing.
I will be posting my 52 stories at Life, After All.

And there’s the usual flickr, twitter, Facebook thing. This place was just becoming extraneous.

Thanks all for reading, commenting, being really swell blog readers.

Hey look, it’s another one I told before. Well screw you, haters. This is my favorite Valentine story and I must share it with the masses (read: 10 people) who read this blog. Not counting the people who’ve read this before.

I ventured to the 99 cent store yesterday. I’m sure you have one of those stores in your area – I’ve never driven through a town that didn’t have at least one. Some of the stores might mark up for inflation (Everything One Dollar!), but it’s the same idea.

I like this store. They have shelves filled with name brand stuff – Palmolive dishwashing soap, Scott paper towels, Arizona ice tea – as well as shelves brimming with name brands imported from other countries. Like a box of Tampons from Japan – you recognize the name and the branding symbol, but you’re not sure if you’re buying super size or light days. For 99 cents, you just wing it.

Every 99 cent store has at least two aisles devoted to kitsch. Small, useless statues. Plastic hand held games that haven’t been seen since the 1960s. Precious Moment knock-offs emblazoned with cheesy sentiments. I always walk down the aisle in amazement, wondering who actually buys these things and why.

I found out the answer to that burning question yesterday. Those kitschy items are bought by the desperate. Men with shaky hands and darkened eyes who, when pressured, make bad life choices. If having an affair isn’t a problem in and of itself, shopping in the dollar store for both your paramours just reeks of bad karma.

berry.jpgSo I’m in the store picking up some paper towels and Scotch tape. As always, I find myself in the kitsch aisle. There’s a display that’s obviously meant to catch the eye of the cheap Valentine shopper. A row of plastic men with Barney Gumble physiques, arms outstretched, gut sticking out are placed at eye level. Chiseled on the base of the statue are the words I Love You This Much!

This is what passed for sentimental tokens of love back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. A whole line of these statues called Sillisculpts made their way into our homes and wet bars, their big eyes and bulging stomachs standing guard over our shag rugs and linear furniture. That the inventors of these statues – the Berrie brothers – went on to form one of the most profitable stuffed animal companies ever is a bit alarming, as they built that empire on the backs of people who thought plastic sentiments made for good gifts.

The statues that line the shelves of the 99 cent store aren’t genuine Sillisculpts, but they are from the same mold, so to speak. Trite sayings, cheap plastic, deformed people, animals that appear to have been part of some bold experiment in cross breeding – they’re all right there in the most bizarre Valentine’s Day display since the Vagina Monologues.

A nice looking middle aged man comes down the aisle. He stops in front of the row of plastic statues and begins fondling each one, seemingly to judge the sturdiness of the plastic. He picks up the guy with outstretched arms then puts him down. Picks up a wide-eyed girl who is saying "You’re the BESTEST!" Puts her down and fiddles around with the Barney Gumble guy again. I notice a wedding ring on his finger. He’s also holding a Valentine’s Day card he’s going to purchase along with his piece of kitsch. He puts the card down on the shelf to better caress his would-be purchases and I notice it’s one of those double entendre cards that say "I love you" but mean "Strip naked and blow me." I’m thinking that this guy is in deep shit if he goes home with that card and 99 cent statue for his wife. I think about offering a little unsolicited advice, but keep my mouth shut because, who am I to judge? Maybe his wife likes cheap tokens of love. Maybe she thinks Barny Gumble is hot.

His cell rings. I recognize the ringtone as Rod Stewart’s Do You Think I’m Sexy and a little warning bell goes off in my head. He’s aplaya.

So I stand there, feigning interesting in a plastic frog with felt heart eyes. His little froggy hand is holding up a sign that says "I’d croak without you." I listen in on Mr. Playa’s half of the conversation. It’s not hard to do, he’s talking loud enough for me to think he wants me to hear him be the manly man that he is.

I know, sweetie. I know. But if we can’t be together on Valentine’s Day, we have the rest of the year to be together….

Yes, darling. Aruba does sound lovely. I just have to umm…wait…for umm….the right, uh, time….

It’s you, baby. You’re my real Valentine. Heheh, after all, who’s getting the fur coat? And who’s getting me? Hehe……

I swear he winks at me, but I turn my head, my attention diverted by a stuffed dog that has seen better days. It’s ears are ragged and it smells like pepper, a smell that vaguely reminds me of church carnivals. The dog comes with a marker and there’s a piece of white felt draped over it’s back. You’re supposed to write your own sentiments on the dog.

Victoria’s Secret, eh? That pink one I liked so much? Really? Hehee

The guy picks up the Valentine’s card he left on the shelf, glances at it and suddenly looks disgusted. He sticks the card back on the shelf, shoving it between the smiling clown figurine and the lighted seashell. His voice goes down one notch.

Well, I have to buy her something. You know how it is, uh uh…mmhmm….oh god, silk? Really? You what? Right now, you are?

I have this curious urge to check out the guy’s crotch because I can tell from the tone of his voice he’s sporting wood. Whoever is on the other end of the Do You Think I’m Sexy line is playing him for all he’s worth. Instead, I grab the frog with the felt eyes and walk up to the cashier. Sexy guy has officially creeped me out and I want to get out of the store and back to my safe little world where people only buy 99 cent figurines as a joke. Because in the scenario I came up with, Sexy guy is buying that for his wife, while his mistress in pink silk is getting fur. I wonder how the wife will react. And then I wonder if that plastic statue is heavy enough to inflict damage if brought down on someone’s head. Probably not.

This is an old story. So my old readers can just ignore it instead of telling me “Hey, haven’t we seen this before?” I tell you this story because my friend Melodi and I were talking about breakups today, and how both of us always have to be the dumper, not the dumpee. But there was one time, one terrible, agonizing time, when the guy actually dumped me.

The summer of ‘79 I dated this guy we’ll call Dave. It wasn’t a very deep relationship. We just enjoyed each other’s company and had some fun together, but we both knew we were just biding our time until something else came along.

We went to the beach a lot. I hated the beach, but sacrificed for Dave because he had this notion that he was a surfer dude and surfer dudes belonged with the sea and sand.

We drove to the beach each day in Dave’s van. Remember, this was the late 70’s. Vans were cool back then. No, not Ford Econoline vans borrowed from your father’s flooring business, but custom vans, the kind with a bed and beaded curtains and a bitchin’ portrait of unicorns – or maybe it was the cover of a Steve Miller album – painted on the side.

Dave loved his van as much as he loved the surf. He doted on that thing as if it were the hottest chick in the world and she was going to give him a blowjob every time he bought her something. Every Saturday morning he would go to the custom van shop and spend more money on his masterpiece; some new pinstriping, etchings on the windows, another mural, more beads and incense.

One side of his van had a flying unicorn. I think, anyhow. It might have actually been a portrait of Duane Allman. The other side of the van was dedicated to the beach and getting high. Tasty waves, a cool buzz. Surf, sand and Columbian Gold all air brushed with exquisite precision. It was psychedelic, man. Like a car with tattoos.

The inside of the van was treated with even more reverence than the outside. The floor was carpeted and taken up mostly by a queen size mattress made pretty with a blanket crocheted in the twenty colors of the acid-trip rainbow. The beaded curtains separated the front of the van from the back, so whatever Dave’s friends were doing to their girlfriends while Dave was driving them around remained private. There were velvet posters on the walls and a mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice. No, not really. But it was gaudily decorated in a theme I like to call sex-me-up. Gauche, decadent and, when you are 17 and dating an older guy, kind of creepy.

So one day we arrive back home after a day at the beach and Dave turns around to me and says very nonchalantly:

I think we should stop seeing each other.
Excuse me?
I can’t really date anyone right now.
Ok, that’s cool and all, but umm…kind of out of nowhere?

Honestly, I didn’t care one way or the other. Dave and his van obsession was starting to grate on my nerves and he was pushing too hard to get me to “ride his mattress” as he put it. Yes, he used that phrase.

Well, I have my reasons. And it’s not because you don’t put out.
Dude, that mattress is skanky. I wouldn’t lay down on that thing even if you put fifteen blankest on top of it. I’m sure I saw things crawling on it.
Yea, well, Brad’s girlfriend has crabs.
So what’s the deal then? Why are you dumping me?
I just don’t think it’s fair to you. I’m really devoted to my van. That’s what I want to spend my money on and my time with..

Insert stifled giggle here.

Me: Your van? You are dumping me for your van?
Dave: Yes, I wanted to be honest with you about it. And fair.
Me: My god, your nobility is bringing tears to my eyes.
Dave: Do you always have to be so sarcastic?
Me: Yes.

So Dave dumped me for his van. I still hung out with him, though. Every Saturday I would go to Dave’s house to check on the progress he was making with his wife/van. One day I got to his house and the van was gone.

Me: Where’s the van?
I sold it to Keith.
WHAT? How could you? I thought you loved that thing?
It’s this chick I’ve been seeing. She said it was either her or the van.
I’m guessing this chick rides the mattress.
Yea

Somewhere in there is a lesson.

the things i hate

Listen, I’m not really a hater. But sometimes you go out in public and you realize that humanity is full of people who just don’t deserve to breathe the same air as you. This happens more frequently in a place like Target, which brought me a lifetime’s worth of hate yesterday. Witness:

  • The scene in the bathroom. Woman in stall with small child. The child is screaming “I have to poo! I have to poo!” The mother responds with “YOU CAN NOT POO IN A PUBLIC TOILET! YOU WILL WAIT TIL YOU GET HOME!” The daughter cries, the mother yells, the daughter is distraught because, man, she really has to poo. “I can’t hold it in until I get home!” Then, “Young lady, we do not poo in public bathrooms! You hold that poo inside you like a good girl!”
  • The angry young woman in the cereal aisle, who stuck her cart smack dab in the middle of the aisle while she perused the seven varieties of Cheerios, and would not move said cart no matter how many people said “excuse me” to her. “I am SHOPPING HERE.” Yes, that’s what she said. An elderly man asked her to please move her cart aside and she literally glared at him and said “Go back the other way. I ain’t moving.” Finally, I used my cart to slam hers out of the way. She gave me a “how dare you” look and I moved quickly out of the aisle before she could deck me.
  • The hefty size parents with the hefty size kid – he was about ten years old and 200 lbs. Their cart was filled to the brim with frozen prepared foods, cookies, soda, sugared cereals, candy and chips. The kid was taking stuff off the shelf like it was Christmas and Target was Santa. And the parents just smiled and poured the carbs and fat into the cart. I wanted to run up to them and say “You are killing your child!” But I did not want to be beat on by a 6 foot, 300 lb woman on a carb high.
  • The soccer mom who spent her entire shopping time on her bluetooth, telling her BFF how freaking awesome her offspring are. I heard about Jamie’s soccer championship and Taylor’s hockey award and how everyone wants to take Jamie to prom and it’s the hardest decision to choose between so many awesome guys who want you and how she (the mom) would be devastated if Jamie did not get Prom Queen and Taylor is going to be so surprised when he gets the snowmobile for his birthday and “OH MY GOD DID YOU HEAR JACKIE’S SON WORKS IN KMART? What the hell is that all about? My kids don’t have the time to work between sports and social events!”
  • The woman on the checkout line, having a cell phone conversation about how heavy her period is this month.
  • Buying a personal Pizza Hut pizza at the Target lunch counter because I had to eat something before I went back to work and it was that or a giant, plumped up hot dog that looked so phallic I’m pretty sure the woman in line in front of me had an involuntary orgasm, then eating said pizza – which was about two days old – while driving, and washing it down with the sludge remaining in the week old can of Red Bull that’s on the floor of your car.

I don’t hate the world. I don’t even hate all of humanity. I just hate everyone in the store with me when I’m shopping.

And I hate shopping.

It’s so fitting that when I play Left 4 Dead, I’m always Francis. Because he hates everything:

stuff

So, I got one of those tumblr things. Which is like a blog, but with 100% more inanity.

And I reviewed QOTSA, Rated R.

And I have a three day work week, then a 13 day vacation. Monday never looked so optimistic.

For the 52 stories group on flickr.

story 5 - kiss me

Henry passed the booth four, five, six times. He circled the bazaar, purchasing a glass bottle, pickled herring and anise seeds along the way. Each time he ended up in front of the red and white striped booth, staring at the wrinkly woman with the “Kisses, $1.00″ sign around her neck.

There was nothing else in her booth. Just the chair she sat on and a bucket for dollars. The bucket was empty and Henry felt awful for the woman that no one wanted to kiss.

Something pulled Henry to the booth; something he could not resist. On his seventh time around, after purchasing a cap made of skunk fur and unable to hold any more purchases, he found himself back at the kissing booth, staring at the old woman and her crooked smile and sagging skin.

Henry fished a dollar coin from his pocket. He dropped it in the bucket and it clanked and clattered while Henry leaned down awkwardly to kiss the woman.

“No,” the woman whispered. “I kiss you.” She stood and Henry could hear her bones move against each other; her back cracked, her knees clicked, her body protested the movement, as if it had been years since the woman had used those muscles and bones. She moved her lips towards Henry’s cheek. The smell of rotting fruit and something long dead clung to her skin and Henry fought off the urge to twist his head. Something strange – something stronger than his repulsion – made him move his lips toward the woman’s. I must have this kiss, he thought. A dollar’s worth, anyhow.

He felt her cracked lips brush against his skin and he shuddered. She grabbed Henry’s face, her hands pressed firm against his cheeks and ears, her grip surprisingly strong. As she moved in to kiss him full on the lips, Henry saw something small and white emerge from the woman’s mouth. The maggot crawled down her lip, stopping to suck on the flesh. Henry felt the day’s take of pickled herring churn in his stomach and rise up to his throat, he would surely throw up on the woman’s face if she didn’t move. He tried to turn his head, but the woman’s hands were like steel. He couldn’t turn an inch either way.

Her lips met Henry’s and as he tried to scream, her tongue entered his mouth. Henry felt it sliding across his own tongue; it was impossibly long, reaching down his throat, slithering its way through his body like a snake. As the woman’s tongue met his bile, breathing became difficult, if impossible, and Henry’s world went black.

If later that day you asked anyone who was searching the bazaar grounds for the missing young man named Henry, no one would remember him, nor would they mention the old woman or the kissing booth, for no thing existed.

At least not for them.

i was born a tiger

Well, I was born in the year of the Tiger. So I thought it would be interesting to see what that says about me and looked up what people born under the sign of the Tiger have going for them.

  • Tiger people are difficult to resist, for they are magnetic characters and their natural air of authority confers a certain prestige on them. (I act like I know what I’m talking about )
  • Their ability to consider feelings and ideas from other people makes them quite sensible and understanding. (I act like I know what you’re talking about)
  • They are also born with a great intuitive power, which gives them accurate and excellent judgement. (I can spot a jackass a mile away)
  • As friends, Tigers are exceptionally warm and incredibly generous with their time, attention and money. (I will buy your friendship)
  • Friends are always welcome in a Tiger’s home and will most often be greeted with a cup of coffee, an ear, a tissue, an open mind and an open wallet. (If I give you five bucks, will you leave? And take that used tissue with you)
  • Few friends could be as caring and affectionate, as quirky and surprising, or as genuinely interested as the Tiger. (I won’t show up anywhere I say I will, but I’ll be very upset about disappointing you)
  • Tigers have the ability to lift the spirits of even the most depressed or lonesome individual they meet. (We have “fix it” issues)
  • Once a Tiger has committed himself to you, he can tend to want to dominate or lead you. (I am a control freak)
  • The tiger’s partner must also be able to stand the mood swings, the ups and downs, the good with the bad (I have PMS all the time)
  • Tigers are unpredictable and it would be unwise to underestimate their reactions. They may appear cool, but they have the Big Cat’s instincts to pounce at a moment’s warning. (My doctor calls this Violent Mood Swings)
  • The Tiger is a bit indecisive, a habit of nature born of his routine of watching and waiting before leaping. (I’m hoping the problem works itself out before I have to put any effort into it)
  • Sometimes too, Tigers get caught sleeping or daydreaming, prohibiting them from going for the goals they initially set out to accomplish. (This is what’s known as ‘procrastinate until it’s too damn late to do anything about it’)
  • Trust, passion, politeness and spontaneity are only a few characteristics of the Tiger mate. (I will ask nicely before I tie you up)
  • They are spontaneous lovers who never lose their creative spark or flare for an evening of passion. They offer their partner a hint of danger and exhibit a curiosity for the unknown. (Safe words are for pussies)
  • Ideal jobs for tigers include entrepreneur, military officer, politician, musician, writer, poet, artist, theater director, stockbroker, athlete, film star, trade union leader, company director, stunt person, explorer, and teacher. (I told you an English degree was worth shit)
  • Virgo Tigers can be pretty picky when it comes to choosing a partner. They have an eye for detail that can cause them to be a little neurotic at times. (Third time’s the charm)
  • Tigers are incredibly sexy people, beautiful to most people and sensually romantic. (Yes. Yes we are. And we’re modest)

Are you your animal?