I swear to god, I am about to OD on nostalgia. I wound up at the library checking about, ohhh, a dozen compellation CDs of the classics.
And I am not even talking cool, new wave classics.
I am talking total cheesball classics. Air Supply, Exile, Rick Springfield, Kim Carnes, Cool and the Gang, and a host of one-hit wonders I used to sing along to while applying blue eyeliner or you know, maybe tucking in my pinched faded jeans into layers of multicolored socks.
Please. Do not pretend you do not know what I am talking about.
Also, while listening to one of these ditties, specifically “Here I am the One that You Love” by Air Supply in my car this morning - even though I can pretty much bet the last time I listened to Air Supply it was during some sort of “Couples Skate Only” scenario at the local skating rink where I looked supercool with my flat comb sticking out of the back of my Sergio Valente jeans, to this day I can totally sing along. Yes. In a way that frightens me because I can’t remember to put the new license plates on my car – but give me an Air Supply song and it’s all there. Every. Single. Word.
I shared joint custody with the Air Supplies Greatest Hits tape with my sister. That and the Go Go’s. We used to fight like cats on family car trips over who got to listen to what.
In other news – a morality tale. Not a short one. Not for the weak. Pretty much a neurotic rant. Have fun!
Here’s the thing: if you want to find out what people really think of you try making this statement, “I did a terrible thing this weekend.”
Inevitably the person will feel obligated to fill in the blank, and quite often the result is hilarious.
Like my friend Macey. At lunch this week, I announced, “Oh my god I forgot to tell you I did something terrible this weekend,” then I paused for a second to take a bite of some fried rice.
And, without skipping a beat and totally apropos to NOTHING we had discussed up to then Macey answered, “what? Did you laugh at old people?”
And I started laughing and I was all, “what?! Laugh at old people? JESUS! What you must think of me?”
She started laughing too, of course, but, you know, with that kind of stuttered laughter that says, “no. Seriously, did you laugh at an old frail man whose cane slipped out from underneath him? Slam your insane neighbor’s hand in the door instead of holding it open?”
Really, what people must think of me? So now I must go on the record to say: Look, I am really a nice person. I am. A little cynical and seemingly bitter at times, and sure 99% of the population drives me absolutely up the fucking wall, but look, I am a goddamn ray of sunshine, okay?
But the fun part is - if this ever happens to you – and someone tried to fill in the blanks for themselves – let them go on! It is fun – you never know what they will say…
“Steal the oxycontin prescription from your dying grandmother and sell it on the street? Kick a couple of puppies? ”
People are very helpful in that way.
Yeah, so anyway what was this bad thing I did this weekend?
Ohhh, yeah, ann-frank’s a fibber look out!
Yeah, fibbing, whatever. In the recent past I have “pretended” to throw coins into the tollbooth and driven off. I have called in sick. I have, you know, told people “no, you look absolutely STUNNING in that gold lame pant-suit.”
Sure, we have all done that.
But sometimes the lying creates this huge wall of crushing guilt that haunts me forever. No. Seriously. Things do. Like the time I was working in Hardees in High School * and I scolded the nice old man who came in every day because he said he only ordered one cup of coffee and I was sure he said two so I gave him two and he politely told me I made a mistake and I was snappy and said “no, you said TWO!” and so he took the two cups of coffee and paid for them so my fifteen year old self would just shut the fuck up.
[*yes Hardees. It was the 80’s. It paid better than minimum wage. I looked STUNNING in brown and what do you think paid for all of that hair spray anyway?]
Look, I know it is stupid but that shit HAUNTS me to this day. I am serious. I go out of my WAY to be super-nice to all of elderly these days. Even the ones who give those unsolicited backhanded compliments and say things like, “you have such a pretty face, might want to lose a few pounds, though.”
Yes, even them.
Okay fine. Onto they lying ann-frank!
So yeah, I was driving along my way to visit the nephew early this past Saturday morning speeding along as usual, and sure enough siren and lights appeared behind me and then there was a Super Cop in the requisite crew cut and mirrored C.H.i.P.s sunglasses tapping at my window asking me for my driver’s license.
Which was not current and had a terribly old and not updated address on it. And of course, my plates are expired. And of course I had no idea where the hell my insurance card was amongst the un-paid parking tickets in the Pit Of Despair that is my glove box.
And he was all, umm, do you have ANYTHING with your current address on it? And I was all, sure, I do – it is on the registration card wrapped up with my new license plates that are not expired and are not on my car where they should be but sitting complacently underneath my passenger seat because I am One Lazy Fuck to have not put them on my car since… oh last June when they came in the mail.
I wanted to tell him they were really really fucking ugly and that is why I hadn’t bothered, but instead I tried to fish them out from underneath the car seat and this is the part where the cop made the big mistake of Starting Up the Chit Chat while he fished for his little note pad in his pockets which, of course cued me in to the fact he was actually going to write a ticket. Not just A ticket – but several. Expensive ones. The man was serious! Quick! Do something!
And so, I while fishing for my information, I had a flashback…
Mary Rose, a good old friend from my good old Catholic High School, [do I need to explain where the guilt comes from?] who one day, sitting at the lunch table over Grade D gov’ment Pizza told this long tale of her most recent encounter with the police.
She was speeding. With a bottle of jack Daniels in her glove box. And various other illegal substances in her possession. So when the cop showed up behind her and the sirens went off, instead of pulling over she sped up and took a few shifty turns and the whole thing almost led to some back road high speed chase until she realized she was in super trouble so she finally pulled over somewhere in front of a Burger King whereby she decided crying – and a lot of it - was the only way out. And she was, in fact, let out of the ticket (s). Jail time. Whatever.
The point is – all of us at the table - we were all impressed.
So what can I say? After hearing that it stuck. I was young. I was impressionable. I was a newly licensed sixteen-year-old going 87 in a 55 the first time I had to pull that trick.
So yeah, 16 years old and it indeed worked like a charm. The tale stuck.
Since then, I have sped plenty. I have been pulled over plenty. I have been giving more than a few speeding tickets in the past. Never tried to get out of them. But somehow, on this early March morning, when I realized this Super Cop meant business and he was going to write a half dozen tickets with huge-ass fines - I could clearly hear Mary Rose’s voice whisper, “use the tears ann-frank. The tears. For GOD SAKES use the god damn TEARS!”
So, as I was trying to get the little registration card out of the plastic the cop made a little chit chat and he went on and on, “well it’s not like you were breaking any records or anything – but you WERE going 66 in a 45 and you didn’t even slow down? You didn’t even see me. I mean, I know people are late and going to work and in a hurry to get places, but you didn’t even slow down when you went by – where are you going anyway?”
And so, Mary Rose - I went from zero to teary in about .3 seconds.
Sniff. Sniff. And I said, “I am sorry officer. I was just trying to see my nephew before he was leaves!”
And I thought, honestly, am. I was trying to squeeze in a visit before he left for Milwaukee for a birthday party with his parents.
The cop, “Before he leaves? Where’s he going? Is he in the military?”
And so I was thinking: Holy shit! The Military! What a great idea!
Wait? Do I LOOK old enough to have a nephew old enough to be 18 and enlisted in the military?? Sweet Jesus, I have to quit with the late night drinking!
Sniff. Sniff, “Umm, no. Officer … he’s …”
Where you going with this ann-frank? Where you going?
18-year-old nephew! C’mon!
“…and he’s …he’s …”
Think! Think! Where are you going????
“going to the hospital …”
AND YOU ARE GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL ANN-FRANK FOR SELLING OUT THE HEALTH OF YOUR ONLY NEPHEW TO GET OUT OF A LOUSY TICKET ANN-FRANK.
“Oh, man. The hospital?” the cop sounds concerned. “Are they taking him in the ambulance?”
Sniff. Sniff. “No, he’s scheduled for surgery. And he’s only five years old!”
SURGERY? IN A FUCKING HANDBASKET… EXPRESS LINE, NO PASSPORT NECESSARY NO WAITING, NO SHIRT NO SHOES NO PROBLEM ANN-FRANK.
So the cop is all, “well, you know, you obviously have other things on your mind. So I guess today is the day I give someone a break. Just be careful and don’t speed, okay?”
He is, by the way, saying this last part and walks away leaving me a free lady after eyeing up the late birthday present for the nephew I have all wrapped up in colorful kiddy paper and riding shot gun next me in the passenger seat.
You know, the gift he probably thinks I am bringing to make the sick kid feel better?
Yeah. I know. Did I mention I am GOING TO HELL?
Look, I am no moral authority. I drink. I smoke. I lie. I’ve done lots of other totally morally corrupt things I will not discuss here because umm, who knows who reads this, and I know it doesn’t mean anything to you but selling out the health of a little child and the one person in the world I love more than anything is not exactly something of which I am proud. I have honestly been feeling very very guilty about this all week. Because now I do believe I have created some huge Karmic Cloud over my ass that puts our relationship in danger.
Yes it doesn’t seem like much but you know, it’s all I got these days.
So, after confiding in my various friends, they have all agreed the best thing to do would to be to do nice little and totally selfless things for unsuspecting people and this shall be my penitence. So, you know. I have been. I have been feeling better.
And yes, I have learned my lesson. And all has been well and quiet all week. No fire. No brimstone. No ominous voices from the sky while a bolt of lightening strikes me dead.
So, that is good. Even though I do speed just a liiiiitle bit. Still.
But it is okay. Should I happen to get pulled over again - the next time I see the flashing lights behind me and I have been the horrible irresponsible person, with my expired plates and unknown whereabouts of my insurance card and not-updated drivers license - instead of looking to the past and thinking of Mary Rose I will look to the past and think instead … Well, maybe instead I will say something like, you know – “Officer, my grandfather’s dying,” Or something.
C’mon! I mean, it can’t hurt - they’re already dead for crying out loud.
Yes. Hell. But for the record, my grandfather on my already deceased father’s side – is probably dead after he went on the lam and abandoned his family after accidentally lighting a hotel on fire in like, the 30’s in Canada somewhere. But you know, no one really knows, or no one really bothered to ever you know talk about it. So I don’t know – probably dead. My other grandfather on my mother’s side - was German. Lived in Germany. Didn’t speak English. I don’t speak German. We met twice. We were not close, people!
Fine. Fine. Mass on every Sunday for the rest of the year.
Okay, okay. Mass for the rest of the year every Sunday I am not too hung over.
At least my unrealistic paranoid guilt has realistic boundaries!
Even though I am a goddamn ray of sunshine, I will get off the cross now. It is cold. So, I need the wood.
You know, until the fire and brimstone shows up.
Sleep well, starshines.