August 18, 2005


I don't normally do the meme thang primarily because I just don't like that word. Meme. Not sure why but it bugs me. But I'll put aside my distaste because I found a rather fun one over at Sheila's. The task: Write down five of your own personal idiosyncrasies.

The hardest part of this was narrowing down my enormous list to just five. You see, I diligently foster and nurture my quirks much in the way others would dote on a ficus. Unlike the plants in my care, my hang-ups are lush and thriving. Case in point...

1. I despise the brown crunchy things in between layers of ice cream cake. I kinda don't care for ice cream cake all that much either. Well, if I'm being honest, ice cream in general doesn't really excite me... unless I'm in a bad mood. If that's the case, ice cream is the perfect remedy because you simply cannot lick an ice cream cone with a scowl on your face. Try it. You can't.

2. I have severe poop issues. Unless it's a DIRE emergency, I cannot poop at work or any place other than home. It's part of the reason I live alone. I found it to be very stressful when I had a roommate. I tried to time my poops after she went to bed or right before I went into the shower. Believe it or not, it worked about 90% of the time but there were a few occasions where I had to answer the call regardless of the roomie's whereabouts. It killed me to do it but I had no choice.

I think it's because I associate so much shame with my pooping that I also find poop and fart jokes riotously funny. I'm 31 years old yet I laugh like a 10-year-old boy at the first mention of poop. And I don't foresee me outgrowing this any time soon.

3. I'm a sucker for the one clap-two clap beat in a song. Even if I hate the song, I have to stop what I'm doing and clap once/clap twice/clap once in time with the music. It just has to be done.

4. My outer wardrobe is comprised of mostly dark solid colors -- brown, black, navy, maroon, that sort of thing. Despite my seemingly staid preferences, I have a rather outrageous underwear collection. The louder the colors and patterns the better. I haven't met a striped, polka-dotted, zig-zagged or leopard pattern I haven't liked. Cartoon characters are equally represented among my undies, namely Supergirl, Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.

5. Bumpy textures and folds FREAK me the fuck out. I'm positively horrified by close-ups of pock marks, cavities, crevices, fibers, etc. When I hear the term "nooks and crannies," I flinch. Stucco will never see the light of day in my home. Same goes for popcorn ceilings. Well, that's also because they're butt ugly. Furthermore, don't come near me with a cross-section of something unless your aim is to make me gag.

I once had a dream that my stomach looked like a moon crater and I tortured myself with the memory for months afterwards. I think I'm finally over the disgust. Actually, nope. Not true. If you'll excuse me, I need to go find me some ginger ale.

August 15, 2005

traveling show

Long-time readers of this here blog will recall that I've done battle in my Tiny Wee Studio with the occasional r-o-a-c-h. When one of these disgusting creatures invades my home, I freak out royally. I wish they didn't bother me so but I can't help it. I seriously cannot abide them.

However, I learned a little something about myself this weekend.

On Saturday, I was hanging with The Lovely Jess in her apartment. We were about 3/4 of the way through The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou when I noticed a monstrous black thing scaling the wall at breakneck speed. I was grossed out but remained remarkably calm.

I now realize that I only flip the fuck out when one of these bastards is in my home. Same thing with mice and rats. I skeeve when I see them in the street or in the subway but other than a stifled squeal, a quick shudder and rapid fleeing in the opposite direction, I don't really lose my shit... as much. If a sighting occurs in my abode? The shit is SO lost, it's never to be found again. Not even with the help of St. Anthony.

So I pointed out the not-so-wee fucker to Jess and said, "Hey! Look!"

Mind you, if this occurred in my apartment, I would not have been nearly as calm and collected. Instead, I would have flapped my arms wildly and crashed into shit while emitting yelps and squeals at a decibel audible only to dogs.

Jess got an eyeful of the intruder and well, in the history of our friendship, I don't think I've ever seen her look so petrified. Well, except that time we saw a fat woman's exposed beav at Brighton Beach. Even so, this was a whole new look for her -- sheer terror. Her mouth fell open and she let fly with a rapid-fire series of anguished "Oh my Gods!"

But after the initial shock, Jess pulled herself together. Her fear was slightly tempered by the presence of her cat, John Brown. He's adorable and fluffy but don't let that fool you! He's got a storied past of viciously killing vermin in all its gruesome forms. He's tortured and dismembered rodents and insects alike.

So our plan was to knock the fucker off the wall so that John Brown could make short work of it when it landed on the floor. In theory, that was a brilliant, air-tight plan. In reality... not so much.

What followed was a display of comedic hijinks that rivaled Lucy and Ethel's most absurd antics. Lacking a can of bug spray, we launched an attack against the beast with the following improvised arsenal:
:: Yuengling and Rolling Rock bottle caps
:: Wadded up balls of wet paper towel
:: Fantastik
:: Glass Plus
:: Fly swatter*
:: Umbrella
* Note: The fly swatter was flung in the direction of the bug, not used in the traditional swatting/flattening sense

After hiding behind the wall clock, the r-o-a-c-h went on the offensive and charged in our direction along the ceiling beam. This sent Jess and I into a shrieking panic. I may have even peed in my pants a little.

But I managed to combat my fear and incontinence and get a few good shots of Glass Plus in before the bug leapt from the beam and crashed into the floor near the TV.

After a little gross-out dance, Jess and I moved away to give John Brown sufficient room to pounce.

The pouncing never quite materialized. I think our Keystone Cop-like behavior threw John Brown off his game because he was nowhere near the action. Instead, he wore an expression on his face that said: "You bitches are crazy!"

The bug once again charged us. Fearing for our bare and flip-flopped feet respectively, Jess and I hopped around unwilling and unable to just squash the damn thing. So it ran under the couch and disappeared. We tried locating him but he effectively camouflaged himself among the boxes and other brick-a-brack.

After several minutes, we decided to resume watching the movie. But we remained vigilant. Our eyes darted in every direction and we twitched at the slightest perceived movements.

About an hour later, the fucker resurfaced and began climbing up the wall behind Jess.

"There it is!" I exclaimed.

Once again, we relied on John Brown's hunting skills. Not content to wait for John Brown to spot the r-o-a-c-h himself, Jess scooped him up and waved him in the direction of it. Secure in the belief that the dirty wee fuck was in his crosshairs, Jess let go of her trusty cat so that the killing could commence.

Instead, John Brown shook himself off indignantly, gave Jess a look that said, "What the fuck's your problem, woman?" and then jumped off the couch.

We cursed at John Brown and then looked at each other helplessly knowing that we were again left to our own pathetic devices.

But then Jess took control.

"Hand me the Glass Plus!" she commanded. She then proceeded to saturate the bug so much that it lost its footing and slipped off the wall. Inspired by her bravery, I grabbed a sneaker and was all ready to flatten the little shit but it ran behind the couch before I could reach it and once again disappeared.

At this point, the Yuenglings and Rolling Rocks had kicked in so we finally succumbed to that "Oh, fuck it!" attitude that accompanies a good buzz. Besides, Who's The Boss? just came on Nick at Nite and we had to direct our murderous rage at a more deserving recipient -- Tony Danza.

August 12, 2005

one split pea and hold the harassment, please

Dear Dude Who Slings My Soup:
When you first started working at my soup shop of choice, I have to say that I found your enthusiasm and attentiveness most pleasant. The way you'd chat me up while discussing my soup selection was extremely charming.

I thought you were a real sweet kid and it was a nice change of pace from the usual grunting sour pusses I often encounter in the food industry.

Over time, I sensed that maybe you had a wee crush on me. You'd light up when I walked in and elbow past your coworkers to wait on me. In fact, as I recall, your glowing testimonial of the Spinach and Asparagus Bisque was laced with flirtatious patter and a bit of mild innuendo. But it was rather innocent and you were right -- the soup was delish -- so no harm, no foul.

But lately your behavior has veered in the direction of... well, FUCKING CREEPY. For example, the impassioned "Mmm! Mmm! MMMMMM!" you showered me with the other day was rather unsettling. Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if you didn't have a cold, steely look in your eyes and weren't sucking on your teeth as you said it.

Frankly, it sent shivers down my spine and I couldn't help but envision a ball gag, duct tape and a chalk outline surrounding my battered, lifeless body.

I just wanted some soup, dude.

Now, a different person might have marched up to your manager and complained but well... I like my soup without spit in it. If you were to be fired or disciplined, I would imagine my photo hanging in the kitchen like a wanted poster inspiring all your ladle-bearing brethren to hock loogies and worse into entire batches of the Broccoli-Cheddar-Mashed Potato I love so much.

I can't have that. And gross bodily fluids and city-wide outbreaks of food poisoning aside, I just don't like telling on people.

So just give me my soup, dude. And don't forget the crackers. However, you can forget about getting with this cracker, if you will.

Curly McDimple

August 10, 2005


My Mother: Poor Katie has the old whatchamacallit... the old chlamydia.

My Very Pregnant Sister: Wait, Katie who is married and nine months pregnant has chlamydia?

My Mother: Yes

My Very Pregnant Sister: Are you sure?

My Mother: Yes, I spoke to her mother earlier. She's got really high blood pressure.

My Very Pregnant Sister: Um, Ma... that's preeclampsia, NOT chlamydia. Big difference! Oh my God, you better watch who you say that to!

My Mother: Oh! OH!!! Oh dear.

August 09, 2005


As I stood waiting for my drink at Nowhere Bar, her sinewy body sidled up to mine. I acknowledged her presence with equal parts trepidation and fascination. I decided to throw fear and caution to the wind and make nice.

At first, she inched closer and then backed away. I felt uncertain. Was she seeking my attention? Or just fucking with me in the way her type so artfully does?

She perched herself on the stool next to me and we engaged in a very superficial introduction. But that seemed to be the end of it so I retired to the maroon, tufted faux-leather love seat and dug deep into a conversation with my friend.

Several minutes in, I caught her lurking nearby. Knowing my friend wouldn't mind the interruption, I patted the seat next to me to indicate my willingness to go beyond our rather tame hello. And she obliged without hesitation.

Within minutes, my dexterous hands were at work doing their magic on her lithe, supple frame. She arched her back in response to my touch. Her eyes rolled back and she wiggled and writhed in my lap as my fingers expertly worked through her black, lustrous mane.

I was shocked at my brazen act and the ease of which it was accomplished. It's not like me to make such a public spectacle but I was held captive in her embrace and couldn't resist pleasuring her.

Seriously, I had no choice. T-Bone, the bar cat, grew quite fond of my petting technique, parked herself in my lap and then fell sound asleep for about two hours. I didn't move for fear of rousing her from her slumber. So there she stayed while I continued stroking her soft fur and chatting with my friend.

Wait... what did you think I was talking about?

August 04, 2005


Last week I made a pit stop at my parent's house after my follow-up appointment with the dentist. It was late Friday afternoon and my parents were sitting in front of the house taking advantage of the rare refreshing breeze after a week's worth of punishing temperatures.

I poured myself a glass of lemon-lime seltzer (my favorite non-alcoholic beverage) and parked myself on the stoop. In the midst of our conversation, I found myself remembering my teenage years when I wouldn't be caught dead hanging out with my parents. But I thoroughly enjoy chatting with them now and I'm grateful to have the opportunity. I'm aware of how fleeting these moments are.

Since my parents retired, they've become quite adept at mixing leisure with nagging household chores. They've managed to already go on a whirlwind trip through Scotland, Ireland and Portugal as well as knock off several daunting tasks on the home to-do list.

My mother is now focusing on the basement. She keeps going on about the sorry state of things down there and is hoping to tap into my anal-retentive organizing skills to help get things sorted. As sick as it sounds, I'm looking forward to it. Give me a disheveled, messy area and I'll have things labeled, filed, stacked and stored in no time. However, my mother doesn't want to eat up my precious summer weekends so we have an appointment in early fall to get cracking.

In the meantime, my mother has been going through various filing cabinets and drawers to see what's what in preparation of my organizing blitz. Much to her delight, she unearthed a treasure trove of old photos and documents. She found pictures of really distant relatives as well as photos of my grandmother and herself as a child, a teenager and a young woman. And most exciting of all, a photo of her father -- my grandfather.

I vaguely remember seeing a picture of him at my gran's apartment in Greenock, Scotland when I was much younger but I don't recall the details. I know my ancestry in terms of last names and geography but, sadly, faces and personalities and quirks are a mystery to me.

I never knew either of my grandfathers. My mother's father died when she was about 12 and my father's father... well, I don't really know what happened to him. The last I heard, he lives in Belfast and looks like Howard Cosell (according to my aunt). My sisters and I were never told why my father grew up without a dad. My father won't talk about it. All I know is that my Dad didn't care for his father and wasn't too sad to see him head back to Northern Ireland. Apparently my grandfather's behavior caused shame for my grandmother and that earned him a lifetime of silence as far as my father was concerned. We continue to respect my father's wishes and don't ask questions so I really can't and won't talk about him.

On my mother's side, the lack of family knowledge isn't nearly as dramatic. My mother moved to America in her twenties to find work and hang out with her Irish cousins. She didn't bring family photos and heirlooms because I don't think she imagined that she'd find a husband and settle down here. But through my matchmaking uncle, she landed herself a strapping dark-haired Scottish man, found an apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and thus began the McDimple family as I -- and now you -- know it.

I saw scattered snapshots and other evidence of our family history over the years but it wasn't until my grandmother passed away that a lot of the photo albums made their way across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, they somehow got lost in the shuffle and ended up buried among old tax forms and mortgage statements at my parents' house. But, in the midst of an otherwise gruesome cleaning task, my mother struck gold.

During our chat, she said, "Oh! I have something to show you!" and jumped up from her chair. My mother has had some leg problems in recent years but the aches and pains were overpowered by sheer adrenalin and she was in and out of the house in what seemed like seconds.

The look of joy on her face when she handed me the photos was just unforgettable. I'm not always good at holding a gaze but we locked eyes for a moment and I just drank in her exuberance. Her excitement was contagious.

My family history is spotty and vague. I've always hungered for it and now, here it was, in bits and pieces, in peeling, yellowing photos and some surprisingly well-preserved black-and-white ones.

I saw elements of me in my mother's twenty-something face. I laughed at her dancing school photo where she was decked out in a kilt and knee-high argyle socks with hands on her hips looking ready to launch into the Highland Fling.

I perused some more pictures and complimented my Mom's mod clothing style back in the 60s.

Mrs. McDimple was hot.

I swooned over a photo of my father in a tux when he was serving as best man in his best friend's wedding. Mr. McDimple was quite the stud, you see. When I was about twelve, we were visiting my parents' friends out on Long Island. One of the women told me that back in the day all the girls wanted to get their hooks into my Dad. At the time, I instantly felt protective of my mother and wanted to kick that woman's ass but good. However, I've since grown to appreciate -- and envy -- my Dad's ladykilling ways.

I reverently picked up the photo of my grandfather and studied the details of his face. I definitely saw my three uncles in him. He even had a bit of a Kevin Costner look about him. He was so handsome and rugged standing with the rest of the crew of the tugboat he worked on. He spent most of his life in the ship yards and that's where he died too. He suffered a heart attack and was found, alone, on a boat. He left behind a young wife and five children.

Among the photos was a letter written in October 1950. The handwriting was elegant with a strong slant. It was a letter to my newly-widowed grandmother written by the parish priest. My mother grew up in a tenement right across from a church so during Lent, when the priest spent a lot of time saying Mass, hearing confessions and otherwise prepping for the holiest of Catholic holy days, my grandmother was always generous with a cup of tea and some biscuits to help him through.

In her time of need, the priest took the time to compose a beautiful and very personal four-page letter full of comfort and consolation. It was so interesting to read. As warm and supportive as the letter was, there were also several lines demonstrating the old belief in a punishing God who sometimes calls his children back to the fold in order to show his power and keep everyone in line. Yet it wasn't harsh or threatening, as odd as that may seem.

I returned to the photo of my grandfather. I continued to study his face as my mother told me a bit more about him. "Oh, he was such a good man," she said. Quiet and dignified and just adored by his children and "always made sure to give to the missions."

I looked at the photo again in an effort to get to know him myself. I thought about whether he knows me. What does he think of me and the rest of his grandkids? And then I recalled a random memory from my last visit with my Granny when I was about ten years old. As we sat together drinking tea, she gave my younger sister and me a little insight into the man. It was hard to get her to put down her knitting but a cup of tea, an episode of Dynasty (or Din-asty, as she said) or a good story could stop her from counting stitches and moving those busy hands of hers. She was always making us cardigans or a "nice wee bonnet" to keep our ears warm in the harsh New Jersey winters, you see.

Her eyes wandered off and a smile overtook her face and she said, "He was a wonderful man... and he would have spoiled you girls rotten. If he were alive today, he'd forever be giving you sweeties and putting pence in your pocket."

As a child, that made me so proud. I had already inherited a love of my grandfather much in the same way I inherited my fair skin, eyes, etc. I reflexively loved my grandfather without question but in that moment, it became real. It became an active, personal love. Not obligatory.

I carried my grandmother's words with me and wore them like an amulet. I didn't get tons of presents for Christmas or birthdays like some of my friends did. When I'd see them flaunting new toys or clothes that I didn't have, instead of feeling bad, I'd comfort myself in the knowledge that my granddad would have done the same for me. Selfish, weak-minded and materialistic, perhaps, but I was young and that's what mattered to me then. But, really, what I was savoring was the gracious and kind heart of my grandfather, not the material things.

I held up the picture one more time and looked into his piercing, light blue eyes and at last saw beyond the serious look on his face and found the soft-center of the man I never knew.

August 02, 2005

the alan alda sensitivity project or what i learned from TV

Here are a few lessons I gleaned from television during my impressionable youth and beyond. This is the first part in what might be a continuing series. Not sure yet though as I tend to have poor follow-through and limited interest in things after I start them. Feel free to pick up my slack and tack on your own observations in the comments.

1. Alan Alda is sensitive. It's not my opinion necessarily but it was a frequent punchline trotted out on more than one show. Does anyone really have proof of this? Hawkeye wasn't particularly sensitive as I recall. Like, didn't he make a woman suffocate her baby or something in one episode? Or was that a chicken? Or am I totally making this up? Regardless, if he was responsible for causing asphyxiation in either a baby or a chicken, that's not cool. And didn't he give Frank and Hot Lips a lot of shit too? Upon further review, Alan Alda is so NOT sensitive.

2. When a character makes an emphatic statement (usually complaining about a person), the resident dumb ass on the show will try to take it a step further but will merely echo the original sentiment by rephrasing it, usually with a one-syllable synonym. Example: Someone will say: "He's the tardiest person I know," and then the Resident Dumb Ass chimes in with: "Yeah, and he's always late too!"

Screech from Saved by the Bell and Potsie from Happy Days were the biggest culprits. Alice's Vera aka "Dingy Broad" was most likely guilty of this too.

3. Every walk-in refrigerator or store room door has an automatic locking feature. Two of the main characters -- usually enemies -- will get trapped and then, with death looming, will come to some sort of understanding that will be conveniently forgotten by the next episode in order to maintain the humor and conflict.**

4. People in movies/TV always have rolling liquor carts in their homes. No one ever reaches into the cabinet or freezer for the Stoli or scotch. It's always in a crystal decanter. And the ice bucket is always full and ready to serve.**

5. Dinner on any given weeknight must consist of a salad, a glass pitcher of milk, a basket of bread/rolls, mashed potatoes, some sort of meat with gravy and cut green beans. Everyone eats at the same time. No one ever has to reheat anything in the microwave. And it's totally okay for someone to load up his/her plate and either storm off or say, "I gotta jet and meet my friends" and leave their dinner uneaten. Unlike my experience, no one will lecture them about wasting food and make them sit until they finish it.**

** (Numbers 3, 4 and 5 were lifted from comments I left on Sheila's post about things that only happen in the movies. Her readers left a lot of really good ones! Go read them!)

6. Be wary of taking in stray kids, for if you do, you'll become attached and then when you try to adopt them, the kid's alcoholic father/mother will mosey back into the picture and slap you with a lawsuit. And then you'll be all sad and the court will try to rule against you because you're not blood relatives. Things will look grim until the kid in the middle of the tug-of-war suddenly stands up and makes an impassioned plea to the judge that you're his real family and no verdict can change that. And then the judge will agree and throw out the case and there won't be any appeals or red tape or anything like that. You'll always get legal custody of the kid, of course, but you'll have to wait until the last five minutes of a very special two-part episode.

7. If you want to suggest that someone is extremely unattractive, feel free to use Ernest Borgnine, Ethel Merman and Bea Arthur as examples.

8. If you want to meet a celebrity, just have your brother or sister call the celebrity's agent and tell them you're deathly sick or something. Or you could always brag to the whole school that you have a certain singer/band lined up to play at the prom before actually securing the booking. Then, when you're REALLY desperate because the band's agent told you to fuck off, the band members themselves will overhear and take pity and show up unexpectedly thereby making you the toast of the school. Those who have fallen for the I-only-have-two-months-to-live ruse and shown remarkable restraint when the truth was revealed include Muhammad Ali (Diff'rent Strokes) and Joe Namath (The Brady Bunch). The most notable compassionate prom crasher in my memory is Davy Jones (again with The Brady Bunch).

9. Little House on the Prairie's Charles Ingalls was omniscient. If a kid ran away beyond the borders of Walnut Grove, Charles knew exactly where to find him/her. He would leisurely stride up as the child (not always his own, mind you) sat whittling wood or throwing rocks in the creek out of frustration because of his/her stuttering problem and/or uneven legs. And, without fail, the combination of Charles' flowing locks, sage advice, soothing voice and horse-like laugh always lured the child out of his/her secret hiding place and back into town.

10. Charles Ingalls was a bit of a buttinsky.

* The title of this post is the result of a very funny conversation I had with The Lovely Jess awhile back. We were driving back from the beach and got to talking about television. Somehow I managed to work in my Alan Alda observation. The discussion took several delightful twists and turns thereafter and Jess, in a moment of brilliant inspiration, dubbed the entire exercise "The Alan Alda Sensitivity Project." I thought I was going to die laughing. Seriously. I was driving on the Garden State Parkway and my howling giggle fit made my steering a bit spotty. But, no matter, the weaving in and out of lanes made me fit right in with the rest of the retards on the road.

:: alan alda sensitivity project: addendum
:: the alan alda sensitivity project: holiday edition