The Story Of The Wrong Party

(photo by Marc Kreisel)

A long time ago, I lived downtown Los Angeles in what is now the downtown arts district, but before it got gentrified, it was just one of the many shitty parts of downtown at the ass end of skid row. The only thing that separated me from the bums was that I paid rent for the inside of walls, while they got the outside of them for free.

Around the corner from my house (which wasn’t really a house at all, but part of an old factory) was a dive bar called Al’s. Picture the diviest dive bar you’ve ever been in and make it even sleazier. Add graffiti on all the walls inside and out, cigarette butts everywhere and the smell. Ugh. The smell of cheap piss, a by-product of cheap beer, because it was safer to pee outside in the alley than to risk your life using the bathrooms.

Al’s was positively glorious and my favorite bar in the world. There is so much music history contained within those walls that the day Al’s Bar closed, it might as well have been the day the music died.

(photo by Marc Kreisel)
(photo by Marc Kreisel)

Anyway, while Al’s was still Al’s and not some tame, bullshit place where suburban people feel safe and “like a part of something, you know?” a band named Green Jello played there. Green Jello is now called Green Jellÿ (still pronounced “green jello”). Kraft Foods sued them because they’re greedy corporate assholes with no sense of humor. Green Jellÿ will always be O to me. Anyway, Green Jello is a ridiculous band with puppets and a very strange stage show. They are hella fun.

After the show, they invited us to a party at their place in Hollywood. We decided to go, because why not and beer.

It was at a big building on Sunset, three or four stories high and a block long, which in Los Angeles is damn long. There was a huge party at one end. My friends and I explored the building to look for Green Jello and wandered into a private performance by Cypress Hill. Well, alright then. In a room with a few dozen people is still the only time I’ve ever seen Cypress Hill perform. And I still don’t really like this song:

We milled around and talked to some people. I met a boy. We ended up talking all night. Still, we couldn’t find Green Jello.

Eventually, as things always do, the boy and I got around to talking about music. He was in a band that had the same manager or promoter or something as Cypress Hill. How do you know Cypress Hill? I don’t know Cypress Hill other than I just wandered into a room where they were performing, and apparently, I’m drinking their beer. Oh.

We were at the wrong party. It turns out that Green Jello was on the other end of the building completely, which seemed about half a mile away.

We walked down there and found a much mellower party at the coolest studio space I’ve ever seen. It had a huge papier mâché tree in the middle with a tire swing hanging from it and more colors than the rainbow everywhere. When the sun came up, we had pancakes at IHOP with assorted people from both parties. And that’s how Cypress Hill met Green Jello.

The Hollywood rehearsal studio was torn down not long after. The giant block was chopped up into bite-sized pieces. The part that was Green Jello’s is one of those designer shoe warehouse things now. There is no papier mâché tree or tire swing. There’s hardly any color at all.

Legendary Al’s Bar, where countless bands got their start, is now a yoga studio, because suburbanites are assholes who think there isn’t enough yoga in Los Angeles like there’s not enough coffee in Seattle. I moved away from downtown LA, partly because I couldn’t stand all the yoga-touting, latte-drinking, rich suburbanite assholes milling about my smelly neighborhood bragging about how they were there before it got cool. Their presence caused my rent to skyrocket.

Now, I live in another arts district that’s slowly undergoing the same miserable latte transformation. There’s a place around the corner that charges $9 for a piece of dry ass pie. Fuck you and your dry pie. Get off my lawn.

The boy and I dated for a while, which proved to be yet another example of why I shouldn’t date musicians. During which time, he was awfully fond of telling people the story of how we met at the wrong party. He thought it was kismet that brought me to Cypress Hill’s place that night. Maybe it was, but I’m more inclined to believe it just turned out to be the wrong party and a good story.

Screw You, Cindy Lou Part 2: The Epic Conclusion

(townofclarksville.com)

I nearly typed Screw You, Cindy Lou Part 2: Electric Booglaloo, but rhyming that many times in one title would throw the earth off its axis and force the moon to drift off to the orbit of Venus, leaving us to wobble through infinite space to hang out with Pluto in the No Longer A Planet Club, if we didn’t run smack dab into lard-ass Jupiter first. In any event, not good things come from rhyming thrice five times in one title.

Crap, I typed it anyway, didn’t I? Well, here’s hoping for the best. *Waves at Mars as we pass by.

Since we’re still seemingly on our normal rotation around the sun for the time being, while we’re waiting for Jupiter, allow me to regale you with the epic, albeit ultimately, anti-climatic fizzle of the story of the traffic ticket.

Approximately a light year ago, in the house of Leo when Virgo ascended 18°57′, I received a traffic ticket. Part 1, the receiving of the ticket part, can be found here, but it went a little something like this:

ticket-3

I was pulled over by the teeniest cop in the largest vehicle for “unsafe lane change,” even though a) I was already on the freeway, and therefore, had the right of way and b) I had my turn indicator, signal, blinker, or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods, firmly in the blinky position, thereby signaling that I was intending to get over to the right.

I probably wouldn’t have fought the ticket–I would have just paid it and done traffic school in order to avoid having to stand up in court since public speaking is hell to me–if it were not for the second part of the ticket.

You see, when Cindy Lou Cop pulled me over and I reached in my bag for my wallet, I found that particular part of my bag to be as bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

Why are you looking for your wallet in the cupboard anyway? (inkspiredmusings.blogspot.com)
Why are you looking for your wallet in the cupboard anyway?
(inkspiredmusings.blogspot.com)

I had forgotten my wallet. I do this from time to time seeing as, every night, I take my dog to the dog park. Before I go, I switch my shoes to my dog park shoes and switch the important contents of my bag to my dog park bag, because dogs are gross and things that aren’t machine washable are best left at home.

It just so happens that, on the eve of my acquaintanceship with Cindy Lou, my brain farted and I forgot to put my wallet back into my work bag. Whoopsies. So, when Cindy Lou asked for license, registration and proof of insurance, I was unable to offer any of the above.

Cindy Lou ticketed me for no proof of insurance. This is what is called a fix it ticket, where you can show the court that you did, in fact, have insurance at the time and be on your merry way. Unfortunately, due to the “unsafe lane change” allegation, I was unable to fix my fix it ticket. I had to go to court.

Thus, began an epic 14-month, 3-day, and 42-minute journey though the wretched bureaucratic nightmare that is the United States Court system. This journey is not an adventurous epic like Raiders Of The Lost Ark, but a boring epic like Gilgamesh, so we’ll skip over most of the details.

It started with my request for a three month extension since I was not prepared for the journey and still needed to pack. Once my reprieve was over, I logged onto the court website where a computer glitch allowed me to pay bail, schedule an arraignment date and close my case at the same time. How can a case be both closed and open? I don’t know. Ask the Superior Court of Los Angeles.

I only discovered my case was closed when I showed up for the arraignment. Bail and arraignment are such heady words for a piddly traffic infraction.

I demanded satisfaction, and they reopened my case and scheduled another arraignment, which was exactly like the first. How can someone be arraigned twice for the same traffic ticket? I don’t know. Ask the Superior Court of Los Angeles.

At the second arraignment, my case appeared to be open. I spent nearly three hours in court just to say, “Not guilty, your honor,” wherein they scheduled an actual trial date, which was this morning.

So, this morning, I trundled off to court for the third time. At least I knew where I was going and which bathroom has the shortest line. Court starts at 8:30. Sometime after 8:34, which was the last time I looked at my watch, they ushered us into the courtroom and took roll. About half of the names said “here.” The other half said nothing, because they didn’t show up for trials they had requested themselves. G’jorb.

After being delayed for an interminable amount of time, they told us that things would be delayed. They were still waiting for cops and alleged criminals to show. How lovely. It’s always some who ruin it for everyone.

At 8:52, the clerk called a name and said, “You posted bail and your officer hasn’t checked in yet. I just need to verify your address, so that if your officer doesn’t check in within the next ten minutes or so, we know where to send your bail. Are you still on Asshat Boulevard?”

Then she called another name with the same spiel. And another. And then, she called my name and asked me if I still reside on Glorious Redemption Of The Common People Avenue. Yes, I do!

I sat there fidgeting nervously for the next eight light years. I just had to wait it out. I silently recited the mantra, “please, don’t show,” to no one in particular, besides a Cindy Lou I suppose. For a completely non-superstitious person, I silently recite mantras a lot. They never work. That could be why I’m not superstitious.

Knowing my luck, I would get the “your officer hasn’t checked in” speech only to have Cindy Lou confirm her presence with ten seconds to spare. Every time the door to the courtroom opened, my head swiveled around like a guided cruise missile. I couldn’t remember what Cindy Lou looked like other than the fact that she was diminutive and female. None of the cops in the shop were female nor particularly diminutive.

Then, the judge arrived. All hail the judge. She said some words I don’t remember and called out the same four names that the clerk had, mine among them. “Your police officers failed to show. You are free to go.” Well, Tally fucking ho! I’m outta here!

And that was that. Court is over, my alleged crimes have been expunged and I didn’t even get to face Cindy Lou. Even though I didn’t have to pay the fine or speak in court, I still had to spend 14-months, 3-days, and 42-minutes with this hanging over my head, so I feel fully justified in saying, “Screw you, Cindy Lou, wherever you are.”

Flashback: Shroooooms.

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goldfish:

I’m pressed for time and not feeling particularly inspired, so it’s time for another Flashback Reblog from the fishbowl archives about the last time I did psychedelic mushrooms.

Disclaimer: this post is not meant to serve as encouragement to do drugs. Don’t do drugs, kids. Drugs are bad, mkay?

Originally posted on Fish Of Gold:

As I’ve probably already detailed somewhere in this here blog, I have an affinity for teh drugs. I like them. Sometimes too much. Especially uppers of any variety, which is why I stay away from them altogether as much as possible.

But there are certain drugs which pose little to no issues to my addictive nature. Mushrooms are one of them. They couldn’t exactly be considered an upper; they’re more in the downer/hallucinogen category, which makes them safe for me. There’s little chance that I could become addicted (I can’t even imagine trying to work on mushrooms), so they pose little threat. Also, I prefer taking them with other people since I would imagine that I would freak myself out too much if I were to do them alone. One needs partners in crime for that sort of thing.

Mushrooms are an event. They’re not something you just take for…

View original 1,296 more words

Flashback: The Montebello Incident

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goldfish:

The international date line makes for confusing travel. Male told me he was flying home this afternoon, but because he crossed an imaginary boundary, he actually arrived yesterday. He got two Saturdays. Lucky him. Because there’s a snoring gorilla next to me, which makes for some difficult writing, today, we’re taking a trip in the flashback machine.

I’ve been blogging for over five years and I’ve only had an audience for the last few, which means a lot of my early posts haven’t been read by anyone ever, so I’ve started to reblog some of my favorites. This is probably the best story on this entire blog. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, it is entirely true.

It’s a long story, but I think it’s worth reading. Enjoy my embarrassing drunken shenanigans.

Originally posted on Fish Of Gold:

I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my life; some things I regret and some things that were just plain idiotic. I’m not proud of them, but they all happened. They keep me up at night, cringing, alone in the dark. Some decisions, once made, cannot be unmade and we have to learn to live with the consequences. Most of the time, they don’t leave any permanent damage and give us some pretty good stories, but only in hindsight. One such story of mine has come to be known as The Montebello Incident.

It all started at a friend’s party. It was a pretty good party with lots of people in a celebratory mood. So, when a pickup truck drove by, asking if we wanted to go to a party in the middle of nowhere, thereby leaving the nice, safe comfort of my friend’s abode, well, it made my positive…

View original 3,168 more words

Boombastic

If you don't know what a single-serving friend is, you really need to watch Fight Club.

Not too long before we quit drinking altogether, Male and I were out with some friends drinking and dancing at a favorite bar downtown Los Angeles that played reggae music. The front of the joint was a very packed dance floor. The back had an outdoor patio seating area. We used to trek down on the metro and walk there, trying to avoid all the bum pee on the streets.

At that point in our long and varied career, Male and I were just friends. I was talking to some boys from Finland. These Finnish boys were on tour in a circus sideshow that had just performed in Los Angeles. They were moving on to Las Vegas the next day. They live halfway around the world and were only in town for one night, yet on that night, we somehow met. Los Angeles is weird like that with all its tiny fragile connections that remind you how small the world really is.

staydown
Small like one of them having the same knuckle tattoos as me.

Male was up at the front dancing like a fool. I was outside on the patio with the Finns. Though I was slightly smitten with one of them, I had no designs on the Finnish boys since they were only in town for the night. I was just enjoying talking to people from another country that I’d very likely never see again. There is something to be said about the freedom of single-serving friends.

If you don't know what a single-serving friend is, you really need to watch Fight Club.
If you don’t know what a single-serving friend is, you really need to watch Fight Club.

Male kept coming out to the patio to try to get me to dance with him and I kept brushing him off. He was far drunker than I was, and if you’re not as drunk as he is, Male is or was an annoying drunk.

Whenever he wanted to know how to say something in Finnish, he’d start with ¿Cómo se dice?” as if they spoke Spanish. I told him they are from Finland, not Mexico. He said, I’m just so used to asking people how you say things in Spanish. Sigh. The Finns thought it was relatively humorous though and they didn’t mind since, before they arrived in Los Angeles, they were in Mexico and made use of that phrase a lot.

So, the evening progressed with everything getting louder and drunker, including me. Male plateaued and I ascended to his drunken heights, so we were evenly matched. It was time to go. The only way out of the bar was through it, so Male grabbed me by the hand and led me through the dance floor. Right in the middle, he stopped short like he forgot something in the other direction. He squeezed my hand, spun around and pulled me into his arms.

Just as randomly, he said, “I’ve decided to give you all of my love,” and he kissed me. It was the kind of kiss where the rest of the world disappears and you are only in that moment. The building could have caught on fire and it wouldn’t have mattered. I’ve only had a few kisses like that in my lifetime and I remember every single one as if it happened yesterday. It is as close to zen enlightenment as a human can get.

I’m not sure how long we stood there, swaying with the loud beat and dripping with sweat, but it was long enough that I forgot where we were. Or maybe it was just the alcohol. When I came up for air, I remembered important things like keys and wallet. I couldn’t feel my bag on my shoulder and started to panic. He said, “I’ve had it the whole time.” He raised his giant paw, and in it, was my little bag. The world was safe again.

We bid farewell to the Finnish boys–I kissed them on the cheek–and hopped on the metro. I rested my head on Male’s shoulder and fell asleep. I do not and cannot sleep in public, but I did on the train that night. The world felt safe.

Male wrote about that night, too. He let me read it. I wish I still had his version, because it’s better than mine. We have no idea what song was playing at the time, but in his version, the song morphed from random bass thumping unknown reggae song to Boombastic by Shaggy. And that’s how a completely ridiculously song came to represent a world-blurring moment.

What you want is boombatic, romantic, fantastic lover.
Shaggy.
Mr. Lover, lover. Mmm. Mr. Lover, lover. Hahaha girl. Mr. Lover lover, mmm. Ah Mr. Lover, lover.
She call me Mr. Boombastic, say me fantastic, touch me on my back she say I’m Mr. Ro….mantic.
Call me fantastic touch me on my back she say I’m Mr. Ro…

Smooth, just like a silk, soft and cuddly, hug me up like a quilt.
I’m a lyrical lover, no take me for no filth.
With my sexual physique Jah know me well built.
Oh me, oh my, well well can’t you tell?
I’m just like a turtle crawling out of my shell.

Gal you captivate my body put me under a spell
With your cus cus perfume I love your sweet smell
You are the only young girl that can ring my bell
And I can take rejection so you tell me go to hell
I’m Mr. Boombastic say me fantastic touch me in my back she says I’m Mr.
Ro…mantic
I’m Mr. Boombastic say me fantastic touch me in my back she says boom
boom
boom
I’m Mr. Boombastic say me fantastic touch me in my back she says I’m Mr.
Ro…mantic
I’m Mr. Boombastic say me fantastic touch me in my back she says boom
boom

Gee wheeze baby please
Let me take you to an island of the sweet cool breeze
You don’t fell like drive baby hand me the keys
And I’ll take you to a place to set your mind at ease
Don’t you tickle my foot bottom ha ha baby please
Don’t you play with my nose I might hachoo sneeze
Well you a the bun and me a the cheese
And if me a the rice well baby girl you a the peas

[CHORUS]

Give me your loving gal your loving well good
I want your loving gal give it like you should
Give me your loving girl your loving well good
I want your loving gal you remember the woo
Would like to kiss and caress
Rub down every strand of hair on my chest
I’m boombastic rated as the best
The best you should get nothing more nothing less
Give me your digits jot down your address
I’ll bet you confess when you put me to the test
That I’m

[CHORUS]

Gal your admiration it a lick me from the start
With your physical attraction gal you know to feel the spark
A man of few word naw go tell you no sweet talk
Naw go laba laba and a chat pure fart
I’ll get straight to the point like a arrow or a dart
Come lay down in my jacuzzi and get some bubble bath
Only sound you will here is the beating of my heart
And we will mmm (kiss) and have some sweet pillow talk
I’m
[CHORUS]

The Night I Killed The Clutch

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I have a long history of drunken stupid things. There are more drunken stupid stories on this blog than I can link up in that sentence. I’m not exactly proud of it, but excessive drinking and stupid things have given me some good stories. This is one of them.

A friend of ours is the progeny of a successful Hollywood something or other. Her family lives in a huge mansion on top of a big hill overlooking the entire city of Los Angeles. It is such a massive estate that she could have parties with her parents at home and they wouldn’t even notice. For a while there, when she still lived at home, that’s exactly what she did.

At one such party, Male and I got pants-on-head drunk. A few hours before, trying to be a responsible drunk, Male asked me if I could drive home since he was, in fact, stupid drunk. Being only half-stupid drunk at the time, I said sure. Yet, because I was already half-stupid drunk, I went the rest of the way to stupid. Why waste half a stupid?

We cavorted. We swam in the hot tub and sat in the pool. We climbed hills and made out with random strangers on piles of firewood. We said WOOOOOO a lot. I spent some hours looking for a bathroom. I walked in on my friend’s parents.

“Allo, mystery and mishuss Hollywood. You have a lovely gnome. I’m looking for the ladies. Do you have a spare sherpa you could loan me? Have a night nice. WOOOOOO.”

Finally, as is its habit, the sun came around to the swank hills of Hollywood and shed a pallid light on the night terrors. There were people passed out everywhere. It looked like a virulent tornado had swept through, bestowing a fatal disease on the people and spreading plastic cups asunder. There was a plate in a tree and several at the bottom of the pool.

The sun scorched my eyeballs as it and Male tried to wake me up. I was half in the pool. Fortunately, my breathing parts were on dry land.

“We need to go now.” Male was saying. “Are you still alright to drive?”

“I’M UP!” I said with a splash as both of my fists slammed on the water and kept going. I wondered if I had peed myself… a lot. I dragged myself out of the pool like the first primordial ooze that would someday come full circle by evolving into me. Dripping and sagging, we walked the long way down to the bottom of Hollywood hill. Instinctively, I walked to the passenger side.

“You’re driving.” Oh crap.

I can drive stick. I’ve owned several manual cars, but Male had a stupid European sports car with the most impossible stick shift in the history of manual transmissions. It was a test of cognitive ability. Sober, I barely passed that test, but drunk and half awake, well, there was a lot of grinding and thumping.

Strangely, the fact that I was barely awake and in various states of intoxication seemed to work to my advantage in the battle between stick shift and me. I got us onto the freeway. Why don’t I ever have sunglasses when I need them?

We were halfway home and moving from one freeway to another. I slowed to merge, down-shifted and the whole thing went kablooey. I pulled the lurching, shuddering beast over to the side of the freeway and stopped.

“I think I killed the clutch.”

“Shit.”

“Your car hates me.”

“Maybe because you tried to kill it and succeeded.”

“Now what?”

“Now we call a tow truck.”

Arrangements were made for tow trucking. “They’ll be here in 15.”

“Now what?”

“We wait 15 minutes.”

I decided the best use of our time was to give Male a blowjob. I had just killed his car after all. It was the least I could do.

It was only after the tow truck pulled up, backed into position in front of us and two guys knocked on the car window that we noticed their presence. My head popped up like a prairie dog and immediately melted into my hands in shame.

These same guys gave us a ride to Male’s house. They didn’t say a thing, but they were smirking and trying not to laugh the whole time. I could only imagine the story that would be told back at the garage. They’re probably still telling that story. “This one time…”

From time to time, Male still complains about the time I killed his car because he’s a whinging bastard. He leaves the embarrassing ending off though.

Don’t drink and drive, kids.

The Story Of The Blue Goo

The Red Goo in action.

This blog has been far too serious of late with editorials about stupid things happening in America, because stupid things keep happening in America, dammit. Dear stupid things, stop happening so I can stop writing about you. Thanks.

To lighten up the party, today, it’s story time. Yay, story time! Grab a carpet square and gather round for the story of the blue goo.


A long time ago, I shared this picture with you and told you that there was a story to the canister of red goo hiding behind the elephant and the purple cow.

2013-11-02 08.25.46

It’s a simple hard plastic canister. In the middle is a disc with a hole in it through which a viscous red goo can flow, like a goopy hourglass that is terrible at its job. My version of it is small and red, but once upon a time, there was a large canister of blue goo.

The Red Goo in action.
The Red Goo in action.

The owner of the blue goo lived up north several hours away. My best friend and I would make the trek up there once every few months because the place he lived had magical properties. No matter how tough life was–and it was pretty tough back then–if we drove up north, there was fresh air and the smell of ocean that didn’t smell like our ocean downstate. The air was clean and tinged with pine. At night, you could see all the stars–all of them and planets, too.

Among my friend’s possessions was a canister of blue goo. This canister of blue goo was much like the canister of red goo you see up there, but much larger, and well, blue.

I fell in love with the blue goo that had a home near the pine and ocean. Every time I walked into my friend’s house, it was the first thing I grabbed. I loved watching gravity manipulate the goo. I found it relaxing and I could not go to sleep at my friend’s house without watching it flow for a while.

One weekend, my best friend and I were up north, and while our friend was out making a living, we plotted a nefarious caper. We were going to borrow the blue goo and send it around the world. Another friend was leaving on a long backpacking-type trip in a few weeks. We would pass the blue goo along to him where he would take pictures of the goo in various recognizable places around the world, which we would send to its owner. Eventually, the blue goo would make it back stateside where it would once again live among the ocean pine, none the worse for its adventures. There might have been alcohol involved in concocting this plan.

My best friend and I went shopping for kidnapping provisions. We bought a newspaper, a glue stick and a bottle of blue Gatorade that was the approximate color and dimensions of the blue goo.

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We cobbled together a ransom note from letters cut out of the newspaper, which we glued on a sheet of paper.  I can’t recall exactly what the note said, but I know for sure that one of the ransom demands was pie. We left the note and the half-full bottle of Gatorade on the shelf where the blue goo normally lived and went back downstate.

We expected a call right away, but our plan was botched almost from the start. In the landscape of his apartment, a half-full bottle of Gatorade looked enough like the blue goo that it was nearly two weeks before he noticed something was a little off and read the ransom note.

By the time he called us up, laughing his fool head off, we had already made the transfer of the goo to our friend who was just about to leave for Russia. We feigned ignorance of the goo disappearance, of course.

Two days later, we got a panicked phone call from our Russian bound friend. It seemed that the Russians weren’t too thrilled about a can of goopy looking blue stuff entering their country. Wanting to know what it was and why he was bringing it into Russia, they detained him and separated him from his suspect luggage. Meanwhile, at the airport, there was a protest. Things got out of hand and it turned into something of a full-scale riot, during which our friend’s luggage was ransacked and smashed.

When he finally got his suitcase back, there were shards of clear plastic and a sticky blue substance covering all of his belongings. He sent us a picture of the goo carnage. He spent the next few weeks backpacking around with blue everything. He was an exceptionally good sport about being suspected of terrorism by Russian officials. He didn’t care about his stuff being destroyed, but he felt terrible that the goo was gone and he couldn’t take it on adventures.

That left my best friend and me with the unenviable task of telling the goo’s owner that it had been destroyed. We figured it was best done in person and made plans to go up north at the weekend. In the meantime, we tried everywhere we could think of to get a replacement, but we could not find one. We drove up north like dogs who had just destroyed something–our heads down and tails between our legs. We told him the unfortunate fate of the blue goo and apologized.

The goo’s owner laughed. He said, “You always loved it more than me and I was thinking of giving it to you anyway had ‘somebody’ not ‘kidnapped’ it. But now, I have something better than the blue goo; I have a good story! The blue goo was destroyed by Russian terrorists!”

We tried to explain that they weren’t actually terrorists, but protesters, but he would hear none of it. From then on, the blue goo was destroyed by Russian terrorists. Going along with his fanciful embellishment was the least we could do. We gave him the picture of the goo remains from Russia. He still has it along with the ransom note.


Years later, the owner of the late blue goo was visiting a friend back east. This particular friend of his was a big fan of personal space. I get it. I don’t like personal space invaders either, but she was pretty extreme about it. Something had happened that made her religious about the amount of personal space she required.

They were sitting in her living room across from each other when the goo’s owner spied something on a shelf just above her head that looked remarkably like the blue goo. In his excitement, he forgot about her personal space requirements. He stood up quickly, and with two arms outstretched, he snatched up what was, in fact, an exact replica of the blue goo.

“THE BLUE GOO! Where did you get this?” When he looked at her, he was surprised to find her trembling and horrified. She was rather in a state of shock to have been so nearly assaulted, or at least, that’s how she saw it. He apologized, but she basically told him to take the goo and get out. Are you sure? Yes.

He called her up later when she was calm and explained the story of the blue goo to her. He tried to give it back, but she told him to keep it. The blue goo’s owner was reunited with the blue goo once more.


Years later, I was thrift store shopping, as I am wont to do, and found the little red goo pictured above. Even if it had been a thousand dollars, I would have found a way to buy it, but it happened to be less than five. Some people just don’t recognize the value in things. Now I have my own goo and the goo balance in the universe is once again restored.

How Domestic Violence Got Me Out Of Jury Duty

BlindJustice

Are there any two words that induce as much dread as jury duty? Why, yes, Goldfish, I can think of many dread-inducing two-word phrases, e.g. malignant cancer, pap test, electric chair, spider face, pantsless clown, etc. Alright, so there are two-word phrases than are more dreaded than jury duty, still jury duty is not fun. It’s really the antithesis of fun.

Allegedly, during the time that the United States Post Office decided to completely ignore my mail forwarding order after I moved, I received a jury summons. At least, that’s what the state of California told me on a postcard that I received in February. In all capital white letters on a bright red background, it said if I didn’t respond to the postcard I could be fined, arrested or forced into a room with twenty pantsless clowns. I’m willing to take the state of California’s word that they sent a summons, but I never got one. All I got was a lousy postcard accusing me of a crime I never committed.

I was offended that I was automatically assumed to be guilty of the crime of disregarding a jury summons that I never got. It is not in the spirit of the American legal system to presume that I was guilty without hearing the facts.

Running late as usual, I basically jogged the .57 miles (0.92 km) from the free parking to where I had to go. It was uphill both ways. I’m not kidding–the first half was downhill, the second half was uphill, reverse. By the time I got to the courthouse with three minutes to spare, I was drenched in sweat.

I handed the bright red postcard calling me a scofflaw to the clerk, who didn’t seem to believe me when I told her I never got a summons. She presumed me guilty–again, the exact opposite of the ethos of the American legal system. I’m sure she’s heard all the excuses before. Aliens, terrorists, a pack of wild llamas…

I put my butt into one of the many uncomfortable waiting room chairs where it would stay until lunchtime. They called two panels before lunch and one after, but my name was not one of the ones they mangled. It got to be 2:30 and I was thinking maybe I was safe since, last time I had jury duty, I sat in one of the many uncomfortable waiting room chairs until 3 pm when they said we could leave. I had only one more half hour to go. Then, they mangled my name. Well, crap.

The bailiff assembled us in a hallway outside a courtroom and called out the last four numbers on our juror ID badges. He gave us number badges. I was the fifth one called and he gave me a big bold five. I couldn’t tell if five was a good thing or a bad thing. I was just happy not to be first.

Eventually, after an interminable time sitting on the world’s most uncomfortable hallway bench, the bailiff brought us into the courtroom in order by number. I found myself sitting in the chairs for jurors that you see in every courtroom drama. I must say, the juror chairs in this particular courtroom were hands-down the most comfortable chairs I had put my butt in that day, but it wasn’t a very high benchmark. My buttocks unclenched a little and thanked me.

The judge went through a ridiculously long speech about what to expect and what was happening. Then, he read the charges. There were seven of them and they were all the same except for the date. The charges were in legalese so I can’t tell you exactly what they said, but the gist of it was “the defendant did willfully make a threat so that the accuser felt fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her family.” Seven times, the judge read this paragraph. Seven times, the man sitting at the defendant’s table was accused of threatening someone’s life between Valentine’s Day and mid-March of last year. Seven times.

I found myself getting involuntarily angrier every time the judge read the paragraph again. When I walked into the courtroom, I was unbiased. By the time the judge finished reading the charges, I wasn’t.

The judge asked the first twenty or so jurors five questions in order by juror number: where we live, occupation, marital status, occupation of any adults in our household, have we ever served on a jury before, and if so, did we reach a verdict.

I have social anxiety disorder and a serious public speaking phobia. There were over forty people in that courtroom, including all the jurors, the judge, court reporter, bailiff, clerk, prosecutor, defense attorney and defendant. That’s a lot of people to speak in front of. My heart began pounding and never really stopped until I left the room. I took deep breaths to calm myself and not have a full-blown panic attack.

Fortunately, for the panic minded like myself, there was a cheat sheet with the questions. When it was my turn, I stammered through the answers, not looking up at all. After that, the judge asked the first row, which included me, have we ever been the victim of a crime.

My first inclination was to not raise my hand, because that is always my first inclination, but I was now biased. As much as the legal system has failed me personally, juries should be as impartial as possible and I clearly wasn’t capable of that. I had to make my bias known, so with heart pounding, I raised my hand.

“Juror number two?” said the judge.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. Juror number two told the court how his house had been burglarized.

“Did you call the police?”

“Yes.”

“Was your experience with the police negative, neutral or positive?”

“Neutral. They never caught the guy.”

“So, you never went to court. Thank you, juror number two. Juror number five?” That was me. “You’ve been the victim of a crime?” Damn, damn, damn, why did I raise my hand??

“Yes, your honor. Domestic violence. Assault and battery, fraud, mail tampering and property damage.”

“Did you call the police?”

“Yes. There were four warrants for his arrest.”

“Was your experience with the police negative, neutral or positive?”

“With the police, generally positive.”

“You went to court?”

“No. He fled the state and was never arrested.”

“Thank you, juror number five.”

A few other people raised their hands and said they were victims, too. One woman had her purse stolen, and a few other people said their houses had been robbed. Mine was the most serious of all the crimes and the only one involving personal injury.

After the judge asked questions, it was the defense attorney and prosecutor’s turn. I disliked the defense attorney. He was smarmy. I found myself inadvertently crossing my arms whenever he spoke. He asked if anyone felt the legal system of the United States wasn’t hard enough on criminals.

I raised my hand again. I was on a roll. “You think the legal system isn’t stringent enough, juror number five?”

“Yes, I do. The guy who abused me was never prosecuted, he fled the state and now all the arrest warrants are expired. He is free and clear forever for nearly killing me.”

“Thank you, juror number five. Anyone else?”

Another juror raised her hand and said that she thought it was biased in favor of the rich. I agreed with that, too, but I didn’t say anything.

After the prosecutor and defense attorney were done with their questions, we took a ten minute break where we were shuffled out into the hallway again.

Waiting there in that hallway reminded me of one the lowest points in my life. As we shuffled out, a lot of jurors looked at me. They were judging me silently. The women looked at me with a kind of arm’s-length pity. The men only looked at me when I wasn’t looking at them. If I caught their eye, they quickly looked away.

I went into the bathroom and closed a stall door behind me. I felt dirty for having to share my shameful past with a room full of strangers. I was angry and felt like a victim again.

Then it hit me that I had just stood up in court and listed off the crimes committed against me, which is something I never had the opportunity to do. I refused to be ashamed again. I refused to feel like the victim again. This happened to me. You people out there may not know how to deal with it, but it happened to me, not you. I walked out of the bathroom and looked all of the jurors trying to avoid my gaze straight in the eye.

They called us back in and I was second to be excused through peremptory challenge after juror number one, whose wife was an assistant district attorney. My juror service was done for at least a year.

A Simple Matter Of Buying Stamps Part 2

Basil Rathbone.
Image from denofgeek.com

Last month, I told you the story of how I lost my bank card and had to visit my bank to get a new one, where I met Michael, possibly, as it turns out, the worst customer service representative in all of bank history.

This morning, having forgotten to do so all leisurely weekend, I had to put gasoline in my automobile as the little orange light indicating that I have no gas was indicating that I had no gas.

Well, crap.

I was already running late and this stop would guarantee that I was at least a quarter-hour late, however, having no gas is no way to get to work, son. I stopped at the station by my house, walked up to the little button machine that completes transactions without having to speak to a human and ran my card through. “DECLINE” came the answer. I tried it again. “DECLINE.” Alright, maybe the machine is broken.

I trundled off inside to speak to a person. The cashier ran the card, I entered my PIN and “DECLINE” came back. “Maybe I should try it as credit,” she said helpfully. Meanwhile, a line of impatient morning commuters had built up behind me. Had I been behind me, I would have been impatient, too. She tried it as credit and the same unfortunate seven letters appeared. She handed it back and said, “Sorry.” I held the card aloft and said to no one in particular, “It’s a temporary bank card,” as if to prove to the masses that it was not financial destitution that was the issue here; it was the bank, you know, big business, otherwise known as the man. The man was out to get me. I have money in there, I swear!

I walked out in shame, only to remember that I still had to get to work and I still had no gasoline in my automobile. I looked in my wallet and there were some ones in there. It would have to do. I walked back to the scene of my shame and stood in line again. The two people in front of me had been behind me when The Unfortunate Incident Of The Seven Letters kept happening. They looked at me and imperceptibly shook their heads in disapproval. I lowered my head in shame again. When I reached the register again, I handed the cashier six ones and six quarters, all the larger change I had in my wallet. I could have counted pennies, nickels and dimes, but I had already suffered enough disgrace for one morning. I put the ridiculous $7.50 worth of gasoline in my car. It was enough to get to work.

I went to the bank at lunch, all full of spit and vinegar. I walked in, and who greeted me? Michael, the source of all my shame. He was the one who issued the temporary card that only spoke DECLINE, so until we got to the bottom of this, he was my nemesis. Michael was serving as the greeter. Fortunately, he did not recognize me, but I did have to talk to him in order to talk to someone else. Little did he know that by the time I left the bank, the roles would be reversed and I would be the source of all of his shame.

Michael asked someone named Cheryl if she was free. Michael and his clipboard pointed me towards Cheryl’s desk. That moment was the most helpful that Michael had been in both of our encounters.

I walked over to Cheryl’s desk where an absolute skyscraper of a woman rose up to greet me. I’m 5’9″, which is on the tall side for a girl. Cheryl towered over me. I didn’t ask, because I’m sure Cheryl is quite tired of being asked how tall she is, but I would put her somewhere around 6’3″ and she was not wearing heels. Cheryl would be tall for a man, but for a woman, she was exceptionally tall.

Between The Unfortunate Incident Of The Seven Letters and yet another trip to the bank, I did some digging in my bank account and found that the 13th of December was when the temporary card had been issued. Since today marks the one month anniversary of my temporary card, I surmised, in my most Sherlock Holmesian way, this was because temporary cards are set to work for precisely one month.

I told Cheryl that exactly one month ago, I was at the same bank because I lost my bank card. I received a temporary, but never received a permanent card and now my temporary card refused to work, because (and here comes the clever part) temporary bank cards only work for one month (and aren’t I brilliant for figuring that out)! Cheryl confirmed my suspicion. Temporary cards only work for one month. Elementary, my dear.

Cheryl took DECLINE and my identification and looked up my account. “I regret to inform you, but it looks as though,” and she said the next part with a very slight sidelong glance at Michael, “whomever gave you a temporary card did not issue a permanent card.”

“Well, that explains why I never received it,” I said, but Cheryl was not amused.

“Will you excuse me a moment?” and with that, she walked to the manager’s office. From my vantage, I watched her stand before the desk of an unseen person, waving DECLINE and gesticulating for a few moments. She came back with two identical temporary cards. I thought to myself, “I hope she remembers which is the old one and which is the new one,” because I certainly would have confused them.

Cheryl was the type of woman who would not confuse a new temporary card with an old one. Cheryl would never issue a temporary card and forget to order a permanent one. Cheryl would never tell a customer all about their Christmas party like Michael had. Cheryl’s coworkers probably know nothing about her. She is a businesslike enigma, pleasant and friendly with her coworkers in the break room, but still a total mystery after years of working with her.

Cheryl bent DECLINE in half and handed me the new one. I was impressed by her confidence in choosing the correct identical card to destroy and which to hand to me. She asked me to plug in a PIN at the PIN selector machine attached to her desk, and for the second time in as many months, I wondered why they installed it on the desk in such a way that the customer has no choice but to stand up to use it. I stood up to use it. I sat back down.

She said, “You are all set. I guarantee that you will have your new permanent card in five to seven business days. On behalf of the bank, I would like to apologize to you for the inconvenience.”

“Thank you, Cheryl.” However, we were not finished yet. While I was there, I had another bone to pick from Michael’s fast-decaying skeleton and I decided to discuss it with my new friend Cheryl.

You see, when Michael signed me up for a savings account, he told me it was free. It is not free. It is only free with a $300 balance. When Michael signed me up, he neglected to tell me that, for every dollar I spent, this savings account would automatically transfer a portion of that amount into my savings account. He did not tell me that it was automatic, but that I had to set up the transfer, which I didn’t do, so I didn’t think any money was going into savings. Michael did tell me that overdraft protection was automatic. For example, if I cashed a check for $100 and I only had $80 in my checking account, my semi-sentient bank account would automatically transfer $20 from my savings to cover it, thereby avoiding overdraft fees. This turned out to be lies.

I know it was lies because I was charged two $35 overdraft fees from my bank for two charges–one for $120 and another for $7. Neither of those charges would have been an overdraft if a) I had been informed of my new savings account’s willy-nilly transferring of funds on the regular b) the overdraft protection was set up like I was told it was or c) I never got that blasted savings account, since between the two accounts, I had enough money to cover the charges.

In conclusion, Cheryl, “I don’t think it’s fair that I be charged $70 for something that wouldn’t have happened had I been in possession of all the facts, which I was not.” Cheryl’s sense of decorum was turning to outrage at the unprofessionalism of her cohort the longer I kept talking.

“Will you excuse me a moment?” and with that, she walked to the manager’s office. From my vantage, I watched her stand before the desk of an unseen person, gesticulating for a few minutes. She came back with two sets of stapled papers.

“On behalf of the bank, I apologize for the inconvenience. I have gotten approval to cancel the overdraft charges and we’ll waive the fee for your savings account for the next quarter, regardless of your balance.” She got a surprising little twinkle in her professional eye when she said, “I pride myself on doing things right the first time, so please initial here to acknowledge that you received information on your savings account, that we will refund you the overdraft fees, we’ve set up overdraft protection and that you received a new temporary card.” I initialed where she requested. She handed me the second set of stapled papers “for your records.”

A bearded man approached and stood what I would have considered uncomfortably close to Cheryl if I was Cheryl. He was about as tall standing as Cheryl was seated in her chair. He offered me a hand and told me his name, which I promptly forgot. “I’m Magicus Fisticuffs VIII (probably not his right name), the manager of this branch. We pride ourselves on being rated number one in customer service. I have been informed of your situation and I apologize on behalf of the bank.” There was a lot of pride in and apologizing on behalf of going on in this bank.

“I have a question for you,” he said and paused. What are you supposed to say to that? It was a statement, not a question. A statement doesn’t require an answer. While this was running through my mind, he continued, “Would you say that Cheryl helped you to the best of her ability today?”

I don’t know Cheryl. I don’t know what “the best of her ability” is. Perhaps she surpassed it, or perhaps she was capable of much more. How am I supposed to know? I looked at Cheryl who was sitting stock straight in her chair, pretending to be concentrating so hard on what she was doing on the computer that she couldn’t possibly hear the conversation about her that was happening in front of her.

“Cheryl has been with us for, what, eight years?” Fisticuffs VIII looked at Cheryl for confirmation, “Fourteen years, actually.” So, she could hear us! “Right, fourteen years!” and he turned back to me, “Anyway, she is one of our most senior representatives. Did Cheryl help you satisfactorily today?”

I looked at Cheryl again, who had put the wall of busy work back up, “Provided that I do, in fact, receive a permanent bank card this time and all the other things on that piece of paper actually transpire, I would say, yes, she did.”

Fisticuffs VIII, Cheryl and I were all tap dancing around the elephant named Michael in the room. He continued, “You are a valuable, long-term customer and we want to do everything we can for you. Is there anything else we can help you with today?”

“No, thank you. As long as I actually get my card this time, we’re good.”

As I walked out, I couldn’t help but look at Michael standing there with his half-smile and clipboard as the bank’s first line of defense. For a moment, I felt badly for him, knowing the shitstorm that was about to descend on him, but then I remembered the inconvenience, shame and counting of change he caused me, and that I wasn’t responsible for the shitstorm, he was.

This is a true story written for the Weekly Writing Challenge: Gonzo.

A Simple Matter Of Buying Stamps

The awesome purple hat.

I had two envelopes to mail and only one stamp. The United States Postal Service is strict about the minimum of one stamp per envelope rule, so I went to my bank’s automatic teller machine (ATM) to buy stamps since they conveniently sell stamps at them. One could argue that since my next stop was the Post Office down the street to mail the envelopes, it would be easier to just buy stamps there. However, I had several reasons for going to my bank instead.

I hate Post Offices. They smell strange in a way that only public buildings can. They’re dreary, dismal, deathly quiet. They have fluorescent lighting that is somehow more pallid than most other fluorescent lighting, always with one tube flickering somewhere in your peripheral vision just enough to be noticeable. Postal employees, while generally nice and helpful, are rather slow. I believe part of their sluggish customer service has to do with their ancient computers with the old beige, cathode ray tube monitors from c. 1994 that they’re still using.

"Welcome to the Post Office." image from blog.utest.com
“Welcome to the Post Office.”
image from blog.utest.com

The second, and arguably, most important reason that I went to the ATM instead of the Post Office is people. I’m not a big fan of them. Living in Los Angeles, there are millions of them milling about in my way. There is always a line at the Post Office. It doesn’t matter what time of day or year you go, there is a line. Particularly around this time of year, when everyone is mailing a sweater to Uncle Harry in Pittsburgh and wants to make sure it will arrive by the 25th, the line is doubled or tripled. Even outside of the holiday rush, whenever possible, I avoid visiting government buildings, except libraries. I love public libraries, but that’s a story for another time.

At the ATM, I can put my card in a machine, punch in some numbers, select some options and out pop some stamps without having to notice the one flickering fluorescent light or unintentionally staring at the fanny of the person in front of me. In fact, I don’t have to deal with a single person or their buttocks. I am a big fan of machines replacing people, even with the risk of a robot artificial intelligence uprising.

At least, in an ideal world, that’s how it was supposed to work. In this world, I walked up to the machine, opened my wallet and found that my bank card was strangely not there. My bank card is always in my wallet, nestled in its own little pocket next to my state of California driver’s license. The word “CALIFORNIA” in big, bold, blue letters on my driver’s license was poking out of its designated slot, but next to it, instead of whatever it used to say on top of my bank card, was nothingness–just an empty pocket.

Well, crap.

I checked my pockets and searched through every compartment in my wallet–no card. I searched the entirety of the bag I was carrying and all over my car–no card. I scoured the area around the bank just in case I had dropped it. It was nowhere to be found.

Well, crap.

Since I was at the bank anyway, I decided to go in and get a new one. It would save me a lot of potential fruitless searching, plus, I had a wallet full of small bills, but no way to get more cash without a bank card. And, I still needed one stamp.

In an effort to avoid standing in line at the Post Office, I ended up standing in line at the bank where a woman with a clipboard approached me and asked me what I needed help with today. I told her about the stamps and the missing card and ineffectually showed her the empty pocket in my wallet just in case it would help.

She pulled me out of line and asked me to park my behind in a rich, red leather chair that was far less comfortable than it looked. The chair was probably at least five years old but hadn’t been broken in because everyone who sat in it only did so for a minute or two. Case in point: less than thirty seconds after I settled myself, as I was admiring how uncomfortable a comfortable-looking chair could be, the clipboard lady asked me to follow her to the other side of the bank.

That’s where I met Michael.

Michael was friendly, peppy and chatty, in other words, the antithesis of me. He’s the type of guy who starts up conversations with strangers waiting in line. He’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t seem out of place at a used car lot, yet here he was in my bank.

Michael introduced himself, handed me a dry, but limp hand and asked me to have a seat. I told him about the stamps and the missing card and ineffectually showed him the empty pocket in my wallet just in case it would help. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that! Let’s see what we can do. I handed him “CALIFORNIA” and he pulled up my account.

Unexpectedly, Michael did not go over the transactions in my account to make sure none of them were fraudulent. Instead, he asked if he could tell me about his night last night. What are you supposed to say when a total stranger asks if they can tell you about their night? Internally, I was screaming “no,” but externally, I said, “Okay.”

He shoved a sheet of pictures at me. They were the kind of pictures you have taken at one of these photo booths:

Image from http://www.onlinevending.com
Image from onlinevending.com

The pictures were in a vertical row surrounded by a red border. At the bottom of the sheet, it said in white letters with little snowflakes, “Happy Holidays 2013.” Inside the red frames were four pictures of Michael in a tuxedo standing with someone else in a tuxedo. One of them was wearing a red bow tie, the other, black. For a moment, I thought myself racist since I couldn’t tell which of the black people in tuxedos was Michael. He said, “That’s me and my twin brother.” My fears of racism faded. No wonder I couldn’t tell them apart. “I’m wearing the red bow tie.” “Very nice,” I said as I handed the pictures back to him, hoping that would be the end of the subject.

It was not the end of the subject. Michael told me just how fun his night had been. It involved food and dancing and lots and lots of alcohol. Michael was hung over and didn’t show up to work until eleven–two hours late. I told him I wouldn’t tell. He said it was stupid of them to have the holiday party on Thursday, but apparently the venue was cheaper during the week.

In between tales of his big night out, he asked me why I don’t have a savings account. I told him I used to have one a million years ago, but since it cost me $5 and I never had any savings in my savings, they closed it. He said, “Oh, they’re free now!” he urged, “There’s really no reason not to have one.” Fine. Whatever.

After Michael handed me a temporary bank card and a bank book for a new savings account I didn’t really want, he offered the same dry, limp hand and asked me if he had been helpful today. What are you supposed to say when a total stranger tells you all about their night and signs you up for a savings account you didn’t really want? I shook his limp, dry hand again and said, “Thanks for your help.”

Delayed by over a half an hour, I went to the ATM right outside the bank, popped my new temporary card into the ATM and bought some stamps. I neglected to get any cash.

The next day, Saturday, I went to lunch with my sister. We ate at a restaurant we had always wanted to try, but never had.  The restaurant served food that was far more delicious than you would ever expect it to be. Since we had a decent parking spot, we decided to walk to the neighboring shops that we had always wanted to visit, but never had.

The area we were in is full of tiny kitschy storefronts. We went shopping. The first shop we went into was a hipster store full of hipster clothes like jeans with strategic rips already in place, jackets with patches already on them, and dresses that look like 1950s dresses, but were actually slapped together recently. The smell was too patchouli, the music was too loud and the employees were too cool. Next.

The next store was a thrift shop, or as they labeled it, “retro.” The smell of “retro” hit you as you walked in. It smelled like a musty basement. They had the nerve to sell a used pair of jeans for $28. That’s $28 American dollars for used jeans that you could buy for a quarter of the cost down the street at Goodwill. Why would you ever spend $28 on used jeans? Next.

The next store was a mix of “retro” and new items, but it felt good in there. It smelled unusual and inviting, with a mixture of musty smells and cleanliness, not like a basement, but like a public library. It was the type of store you could spend hours in just looking at things. The saleslady was sitting at the counter reading a book. She greeted us when we came in, but did not get off her perch and follow us around obsequiously asking us if we needed help with anything. I would like to buy something from this store.

I looked at practically everything, but the item that caught my eye in the end was the item that caught my eye in the beginning; a royal purple ladies’ Trilby in the window on a mannequin lounging on her side in a way that real humans never do. I asked the woman behind the counter if I could steal the hat off of her mannequin. She told me to go right ahead. I plucked the hat off the mannequin, mussing her blonde wig and setting her sunglasses askew. When I picked it up, I was astonished by the quality and detail of the hat. It was made of soft wool and had a non-adjustable buckle built into the side.

The awesome purple hat.
The awesome purple hat.

Opposite of form, I placed the magical purple hat on my head before I glanced at the price. Unfortunately, it fit me perfectly. I glanced in the mirror and swooned. It was a ladies hat. I rarely wear ladies hats because they don’t make them much anymore and the style of hats I wear are generally for men. Like the Trilby picture above or this snap cap as sported by Mr. Brad Pitt:

article-2223410-01776062000004B0-721_634x420
Image from reuters.com

Those kind of hats are generally relegated to man heads and man heads tend to be bigger than mine. I wear a small in man hats. So, when I came across a royal purple lady hat, I swooned.

I took the hat off my head, flipped it over and steeled myself to look at the price tag. I was pleasantly surprised to find a tiny heart-shaped, white sticker with “19–” written on it. I never spend more than $20 on a hat. I could afford it! Sold!

I walked up to the counter and apologized to the shop girl for leaving her mannequin hat-less. She chuckled. Out of habit, I pulled out my bank card and “CALIFORNIA” and handed them to her. It was only when I saw the puzzled look on her face that I remembered the stamps and Michael and “Happy Holidays 2013.” I had a temporary bank card that would work fine at an ATM, but not so much when purchasing things requiring identification since the card had no name, let alone mine.

Well, crap.

I looked at a wallet full of small bills and pitifully pulled them out. I started counting ones and was excited to find a five dollar bill in there. All told, I was three dollars shy. It was better than I thought. I have a zipper compartment in my wallet where change is stored. It happened to be very fat since I hadn’t dumped it in a while. I stood there at the counter with my beautiful hat in a bag and shamefully began to count change. The shop girl and I exchanged a congratulatory smile when we reached the desired goal. We made it.

The lovely sound of an antique cash register opening sounded. She deposited my plentiful and varied loose currency into it and closed it again. She handed me a brown paper bag with little handles on it and wished me a pleasant day. I wore my new purple hat out that night with a slight jaunty tilt and received many compliments. I smiled thinking of how the shop girl and I shared the secret of its arduous and awkward purchase.

Continued in Part 2.