October 31, 2004

spell checker is an idiot savant

Just as I was forced onto a yellow school bus parked outside of my Catholic school to help rid me of my whistling "s" sounds each week, Blogger needs to enroll its spell checking tool into some remedial courses. It doesn't even recognize the word "blog" for fuck's sake!

It's really become rather amusing each time I spell check an entry before publishing to see what words it stumbles on and what it offers up in exchange. In my previous post, I used the term "knockoff." I laughed for a good five minutes when it suggested "conceive" instead. Hmm... Spell Checker doesn't understand or provide alternatives for a simple word like "musn't" but somehow, whether intentionally or not, it assumed I intended to say "knock up." Brilliant.

tales of halloween past and present

Happy Halloween, everybody! Here's hoping you are all enjoying a candy-filled holiday weekend. I'm not doing anything Halloween-related today (although some of the dust bunnies I will be battling soon are certain to be quite scary).

I'm debating whether I should go out and buy some candy. The past two years, NO ONE rang my bell even though I stocked up on goodies. The first year, I was eating fun-sized Three Musketeers and Hershey bars for weeks (okay, days) afterwards. Last year I bought candy that I don't like so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat it if no one came a-knockin'. Sure enough, no one rang the bell and I got stuck with lollipops and some other stuff that I don't care for. I can't remember the exact candy but I can say for sure that it wasn't Mary Janes. I HATED getting Mary Janes as a kid. I don't know that I ever even ate one but the wrapper was so ugly with that mustard and red coloring. Tres unappealing.

Truthfully, I never had first-hand experience with this candy but the information that it was bad was passed down to me by others. That was enough for me to stay away. Kinda like Ishtar.

Speaking of Ishtar, I once found myself trapped in a room where it was being shown. When I first got together with THE EX (who was a good 6 years my junior), we were watching television with her younger brother. He was flipping through the channels and settled on Ishtar for whatever reason. Maybe he was intrigued by the sight of Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman covered in sand. I just don't know. So needless to say, THE youthful EX and her brother had no idea about the reputation of this film. I found myself giving them a little lesson in notoriously bad movies -- Heaven's Gate, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Staying Alive, etc. I summarized the lecture by informing them that one mustn't watch these movies to verify the awfulness -- one just has to take history's word for it. And then we ended up watching something with Kevin Costner in it. Sigh... Thankfully it wasn't Waterworld or The Postman.

But back to Halloween. My younger sister had a Halloween party the other night and it was AWESOME. She's 5'11" and her roommate is about 6-7 inches shorter so they made quite the striking couple as Popeye and Olive Oyl. The costumes were all outrageous, save for the one girl dressed like a slutty angel. Although, she did throw off bets by not dressing like a slutty nurse.

I had no idea what I was going to be but inspiration hit on Thursday night. After work on Friday, I visited K-mart, Target and Modell's in search of a toy tennis racket and an Adidas track suit. I found neither. I have Adidas track pants but they're swishy-sounding and didn't fit the bill. I wanted those soft fabric ones. Modell's was my last stop so I ended up buying a tight-fitting velour Juicy knockoff sweatsuit. It's ridiculously fabulous. I also picked up an Adidas headband. I wanted the toy tennis racket so that I could smash it into oblivion but, alas, no stores had any. So I dug out my really old racket and took a knife to the strings. I tried breaking the frame but it was surprisingly resilient. I did manage to knock a bunch of books off the shelf in the process though. Can you see where I'm going with this?

I put on the jogging suit and laughed hysterically at the sight of me in this ghetto fabulous get up. I stuck on a pair of Stan Smiths and pulled the headband down over my hair creating a puffy mass of curls at the top and bottom. With smashed racket in hand, I was John McEnroe's doppelgänger. If the weather was warmer, I would have worn really tight white shorts but it was far too nipply outside. I spent the evening throwing fake tantrums and screeching, "You CANNOT be serious." I should have brought an article reporting his atrocious CNBC ratings and Tatum O'Neal's new tell-all to complete the picture. Maybe next year.

Most people think I'm nuts because I don't really like dressing up. I get the same response when I tell them I don't like those crunchy things in between layers of ice-cream cake. I don't know why they react in such a way. I give them first crack before I touch my cake (remember, no dairy share). They totally benefit.

But if I do dress up, it's rather begrudgingly. I also assemble costumes that easily blend into normal clothes so that I can travel on the subway without comment. One year I put on army green pants, high-laced Doc Marten black boots and a white t-shirt (couldn't find a green one) and showed up to a party as Private Benjamin. I look nothing like Goldie Hawn so I made a "Hello, My Name is PRIVATE BENJAMIN" sticker. I rolled up my pants, slapped on the sticker, removed my coat right before entering and voila, instant transformation. It went over well.

My dislike of costumes must stem from an incident I had at an early age. When I was about seven-years-old, my mother got the idea from one of her coworkers to dress me as a crayon. I was asked to pick out my favorite color (at the time it was yellow) and we went to the store to buy big sheets of stiff yellow poster board (oak tag, if you're from Jersey). My father cut one of the pieces and formed it into a cone for the hat. I was given a black marker and told to write Crayola on the side and draw the squiggly lines, etc. When the big day came, the pointy cap was secured on my head with an elastic thingy and I was stapled into the yellow cylinder. I wore yellow pajamas underneath to avoid any yellow-peach confusion.

Remember when we were younger and the word on the street was that bees are attracted to the color yellow? I don't know about the rest of the country but we have a shit load of bees in Jersey in September and October. And they're all pissed off trying to get in their last stings before they die off (or go into a hive or whatever the hell they do in the winter). I got as a far as around the block before a bee started buzzing around me. I swatted at it a few times but it persisted. Finally, I decided to run from it. Um, not a smart idea considering my legs were mostly covered by a narrow tube. I can still remember the ripping sound. It wasn't even a clean break that could be fixed with Scotch tape. I ripped that muthafucka asunder.

I sadly walked back home and rang the bell. My mother came to the door thinking I was a trick-or-treater but instead of getting candy, I got a high-pitched "What on earth happened?!?!" She muttered and told me I was daft as she rummaged through her drawers to find a suitable replacement. She finally found a pair of pirate pants one of my older sisters wore a year or two before. Truth be told, I was a half-assed looking pirate because she couldn't find the hat, eyepatch or knife. In the end, all I was wearing was shredded jeans and a white shirt. I looked more like a castaway or someone victimized by a pirate.

But I still got lots of candy and did my yearly tradition of trading all of my Mary Janes in for the better candy in my Mom's bowl. The trade-in was the best part. I ditched all my bad candy and pennies for the good stuff. My rate of exchange benefited me rather generously, I might add. One penny = two boxes of candy corn or three Dum-Dum lollipops (cherry, preferably). My Mom made us remove Sugar Daddies, Now & Laters and Laffy Taffy from our bags because of their superior teeth-ruining properties. So we'd put those in the bowl in an uneven exchange for the Mom-approved (and much better) candy. Funny how she didn't seem to mind rotting some other kid's teeth.

Happy Halloween!!

October 16, 2004

it's hard to be humble...

You know, when I first started keeping a blog, I thought my forte would be mining my misadventures as a half-closeted lesbo. I thought my dealings with my clueless Irish-Scottish parents plus my issues of insecurity, depression, Catholic guilt and a general distrust of the populace would be equally fertile ground for my blogging career. Little did I realize that my feet, or more accurately, the reaction that men on public transportation have to them, would be a recurring theme in this here venue.

Yes, folks, there was another subway incident involving my lower appendages. What's really creepy is that it happened again on the same train in the same location as last time. As God as my witness, I will never ride the R train again!

I was on my way home from work the other day, fully engrossed in my copy of the Daily News. As I was reading about the brilliant postseason performance of one Bernie Williams, I could feel someone hovering near me. I looked up and a rather deranged-looking man perched atop a red and silver Razor scooter was looking at me funny. I thought that perhaps my freakishly long legs were blocking his path so I quickly pulled them in, tucked them under the bench and resumed reading.

He didn't move. I looked up again to find his eyes cast downward examining my feet. I had a moment of "Not again!" but this time, my feet were protected by calf-length boots so I knew there was no danger of unwelcome suckage. Furthermore, I was in no mood. I was sporting a serious "Fuck off! Your nuts are not safe!" puss on my face so I thought for sure he'd take heed and keep scooting.

And then he spoke. It was rather unintelligible but from what I could glean, he was interested in my boots. He kept pointing at them and saying, "Shoe! Shoe! Shoe!" At the risk of sounding callous, I thought he was deaf because well, he sounded like it. I had no idea what he could possibly want with my boots so I thought about it a minute and then said, "Shine? No, no shine." He shook his head impatiently, sat down and pointed emphatically at them once again. I gave the feet a quick once-over to make sure I wasn't trailing toilet paper or trekking dog shit around. I saw that there was nothing out of the ordinary so I gave him a snotty, "I don't know what you're talking about!" and back to the sports page I went.

That's when he reached down and pulled up his pant leg revealing his hairy calf. He then pointed at my pant leg trying to get me to do the same. He wanted to see some skin. This dude didn't want to buff my boots... he wanted to knock them, if you will. I declined his invitation and he persisted. He'd stab his finger at my leg and I'd say, "What the hell are you going on about?" Back and forth we went with the pointing and refusing until I finally tuned him out.

I'm usually quite skilled at ignoring crazy people but my eyes kept darting to the side because I just didn't trust this guy. I reread the same sentence in my paper over and over again. Sure enough, moments later he got agitated, lifted the scooter up over his head and shook it rather menacingly. Thoughts of reconstructive surgery and physical therapy sessions flashed through my head. I was certain I'd be kissing metal before long.

But then -- and here's where it gets weird -- he lowered the scooter, leaned over to me, pumped his bent arm in a "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" gesture and asked quite innocently, "Sing along?" He went from pervert to preschooler in the span of two minutes. The train pulled into the station and I scurried off praying that I wouldn't be followed. Luckily, he remained in his seat and asked the guy across from him to join him in song. I'm not sure if he obliged.

I used to think the curly hair and dimples were my most prominent physical assets but in recent months, the feet have made a strong showing. In fact, I might have to change my name...

Tootsie McSniffmyfoot

October 12, 2004

here's an interesting question for ya...

What do you suppose it means when a big ol' dyke has a dream about Alec Baldwin where said lesbo straddles him, gives him a right good snog and then lets her hand wander south, giving Baldwin an ending far better than in most of his movies?

Um, you know, hypothetically of course. Not saying it happened to me or anything. I'm just curious.

October 06, 2004


It's now Week 4 of the Daily News Scratch n' Match sweepstakes... and I still haven't won shit. I've even resorted to praying to help me win but alas, I have nothing to show for my newfound spirituality.

I don't have much luck when it comes to contests like this. I entered countless raffles in grammar school where top prize was a bike, a VCR, a computer, etc. And I never won. However, if the teachers put names in a hat to decide who was going to do a reading in front of a church full of people at the Confirmation ceremony, my name was miraculously selected. I also "won" the honor of doing a reading at my graduation right on the heels of my Confirmation performance.

Furthermore, in fifth grade, I was appointed to be the official welcome wagon when the parish got a new pastor. I had to sit through a REALLY long Mass attended by bishops and stuff and then go up and shake the priest's hand and say, "Welcome!"

I also had to crown the statue of the Virgin Mary at a well-attended church gathering on another occasion. Years later, I heard the song that goes, "Oh Mary We Crown Thee with Blossoms Today" and I believe I actually experienced a bout of panic. May Crownings are stressful! What if the wreath fell off Mary's head? What if I missed my cue and crowned her too early or too late? I was never good with the timing thing. In the third grade Christmas pageant, I forgot to stop rocking around the Christmas tree and continued circling it long after everyone else sat down. It was tres embarrassing.

I HATED doing these things. There were plenty of attention-starved and outgoing kids who would have jumped at the chance but instead, me -- the quiet, super self-conscious one -- was thrust in the spotlight and forced to perform. It was especially painful at the Confirmation because our public school peers -- the enemy -- were receiving the sacrament with us. They infiltrated our small, tight-knit group and scared the shit out of us quite frankly. We had a few smart-ass boys in my class and even they were speechless in the presence of the more wordly publics.

At the time, I was an awkward, pale and shy skinny little kid. The public school girls seemed so glamorous and mature to me. They wore makeup and gave their phone numbers to boys. I never concerned myself with such things before but suddenly, I was painfully aware of our differences. I dreaded getting up in front of them. I was certain they'd ridicule me. During the rehearsal, I read my assigned bit and was immediately chastised by the principal for not speaking loud enough. About 10 other students (both public and parochial) read yet she only picked on those of us who attended her school. Truthfully, she didn't expect much of the public school kids. In fact, we were always warned to take our valuables home on Mondays and Tuesdays when those kids attended catechism after we left for the day. Nice, right?

In addition to criticizing my volume, the nun took exception to the way I said the word "because." I guess I said it more like "becuz." She cut me off and yelled, "Miss McDimple! The proper pronunciation is 'bee-caawwwwwwse.' Now speak up and speak properly! You know better than that!" I just wanted to get up there, blurt out my bit and sit back down. Instead, she embarrassed me in front of all those kids and made me repeat myself about a billion times. At the risk of eternal damnation, I wanted to kill that fucking nun right then and there.

The worst was that the teachers actually tried to spin these gigs of forced public speaking as the most valuable prize of all. If by valuable they were referring to the small fortune I'd later have to fork over to a shrink and the makers of Paxil, then well, yes, I suppose they were right. I still would have happily "settled" for the Commodore 64.