Tag Archives: Humor

I’m with the Folkie?

I don’t normally pick up Stuff@Night, the “hip” little guide to Boston nightlife (the Dig’s Media Farm usually sums it up nicely), but I grabbed the “Welcome Back” issue on Saturday en route to Chinatown after I realized that I had somehow forgotten my book.

As I perused the contents, I spotted an article on thirty ways to shake up one’s nightlife routine. Being of the never-go-home-the-same-way-twice school of life, I decided to check it out. You can read the tips on how to get arrested and/or die of alcohol poisoning yourself, but I would like to focus on the advice for how to become a groupie for an evening.

Night 28: Become a groupie. Channel Kate Hudson and the Band-Aids in Almost Famous, then choose an up-and-coming local musician as the new object of your obsession. Arrive early to secure your front-row spot, and after the band’s set, flirt, schmooze, or buy your way backstage for a personal meet-and-greet with your new favorite. We suggest starting small at more intimate venues like the Paradise Lounge(969 Comm Ave, Boston, 617.562.8800), Johnny D’s (17 Holland Street, Somerville, 617.776.2004), or Club Passim [Ed: Click on the link] (47 Palmer Street, Cambridge, 617.492.7679); you’ll probably have more luck, and lesser-known artists will be more appreciative of your affection.

Now, I have nothing against getting up close and personal with the band. If that’s on your life-experience checklist, then go for it. As with risqué dancing in public, however, there is a place for everything. Somehow, I suspect that a venerable folk club where nary a word is spoken during a performance and where the strongest drink you are likely to get is a very virginal raspberry lemonade is not the best place unleash your inner Pamela Des Barres.

I realize that Stuff@Night probably did not intend to send its readers to the hospital after they binged on alcohol from brunch to dawn (see Night 17), and that many of these tips were given with toungue planted firmly in cheek. With this little gem, however, I wonder if Stuff@Night had other, more sinister, plans up its sleeve. I know that I for one would certainly pay good money to see befuddled folk musicians fending off throngs of tarted-up young things determined to seduce them.

At least, I hope that Stuff@Night is filming a comedy instead of just demonstrating complete and utter cluelessness.

In other local news, tonight Andraste, Fresh Hell, and I will be meeting up for drinks. Should be a great time.

My First Setup

Poor Dive. His well-meaning relations and friends keep trying to set him up with ugly, American-fat women with “lovely personalities,” and he wishes that they would just stop. His tale of woe reminded me of the first time someone tried to marry me off. It happened when I was barely fifteen.

My mother had a friend named Katherine. Katherine was from the Old Country, and she loved me. She would go on and on about my hair and how beautiful it was. Once for a school project I interviewed her and her husband on tape about how they escaped the Nazis and then the Soviets in Poland before they came to America. In the middle of the interview, she cried, “You haf beauuuuutiful hair. You washen?” When I had to play the tape for the class, pandemonium ensued. Everyone asked me if I washed my hair on a daily basis for the rest of the year.

Well, since I was so beautiful, Katherine was absolutely horrified when she learned that my mother had not yet arranged a marriage for me. Not wanting me to become a spinster (good thing she’s passed on—she’d be horrified to know that I’m still single), she had decided to take matters into her own hands. First, she invited me over to give me cooking lessons. Under her gruff tutelage, I learned to make tea cakes and other niceties for the table. I liked to bake, so these lessons were fun for me. “You haf tu cook to pleaze a man!” she’d say. I giggled, thinking to myself that I had tu cook to pleaze my belly.

Satisfied that I had the proper skills, she decided to start making inquiries (without telling my mother—or me—of course). When she had found an eligible man, she called my mother and asked her to send me to her house for coffee. I tromped on up the hill to her house, and when I got there, I noticed that she’d gotten out the good china and had set a table for two. “Oh! Are we having fancy coffee, Katherine?” I asked. Katherine smiled.

There was a knock on the door, and in walked a man in his late fifties, dressed in a suit and tie. He was also Polish, and he smiled at me approvingly. “Sit! Sit!” Katherine barked at me. I sat. So did the man. Katherine poured the coffee and set out the cakes. “She isth very good cook!” Katherine told the man.

“I didn’t make these,” I explained to the man. After Katherine had set us up, she left for the kitchen. This is weird, I thought, but didn’t make much of it. Apparently she wanted me to have coffee with the guy. Maybe he wanted to talk about college. We had a little chat, drank our coffee, and ate the cakes. The man kept smiling at me in a very strange way, but I just chatted away.

The snack done, I told Katherine that I had to go. “I have dancing lessons in an hour,” I explained. “See!” She said to the man, “She danz. She talented!” The man smiled again, and I said goodbye and tromped back down the hill to my house.

No sooner had I arrived home when the phone rang. My mother answered. It was Katherine. My mother listened to what she had to say, shot me a very quizzical look, and sternly explained to Katherine that she didn’t think it was a good idea. I could hear Katherine saying, “But they talken! They laughen! It ist a good match!” My mom’s face started to wrinkle and she was starting to laugh, but she kept her voice firm. “No, Katherine. I don’t think that she’s ready for that” and hung up the phone. Then she collapsed into peals of laughter.

“Katherine tried to set you up with a geezer!” She gasped. “That man! That man you met wants to marry you! You’re fifteen!” She barely got the words out.

“What????” I said. “Eeeew. She wanted me to marry him? He’s older than Daddy!” I felt funny.

My mom continued to laugh, “Oh my!” she’d say, wiping her eyes. “Oh dear! Oh hee hee hee!”

Katherine, on the other hand, thought my mother was insane and didn’t recover quickly from the slight. My mother decided that I wasn’t to go to Katherine’s without supervision. Eventually, however, Katherine tried again. This time she called my mother.

“I haf another man for yur daughter. He tall. He smart, he handsome, he young. He going to be doktor.”

“No, Katherine,” my mother said gently. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I know you mean well, but we don’t do things like that here.” And with that, Katherine gave up.

Katherine died when I was in college, and I couldn’t make it home for the funeral. My mother called me afterwards, very apologetic. “Oh, Honey. I think I blew it. You know that last guy Katherine wanted to set you up with? Well, I met him. He was young, tall, and handsome. He is in medical school. He’s really nice. He also has a girlfriend. I’m so sorry. Perhaps I should have listened to her.”

Oh well. I guess I shouldn’t complain about being single.

Skunkwater Memories

Two ladies—we call them Skunkwater Lady I and Skunkwater Lady II (sometimes Jr)—habitually bathe in knock-off perfume in the ladies’ toilet where I work. You might think that I use the word “bathe” hyperbolically. I assure you, I’m not. The thick, wafting clouds of Eau de Icky-Sicky-Sweet I and II are deadly. Every day, the Skunkwater Ladies freshen up their scent right around lunchtime, rendering the bathroom a Superfund site for most of the afternoon.

My coworkers and I have thought about posting signs, something, anything to stop it, but we aren’t entirely sure about how to go about putting the kibosh on skunkwater application without creating an international incident. It was during a strategizing session/bitch fest about the Skunkwater ladies last week that I was reminded of this tale from my youth.

Boys of fashion and taste sported Polo for Men by Ralph Lauren when I was in high school. They would strut past me, and my stomach would flip, my heart would beat faster, and my palms would get just a little bit sweaty. I would feel faint and look after the studly juniors and seniors with love and repressed lust (I went to a Christian school). Oh, how I wanted them. When I finally got a boyfriend of my very own, he wore Gucci. It wasn’t the only thing about him that disappointed me, but it was high up on the list. I never realized my dream of falling into the arms of a Polo-wearing senior.

Years passed. Polo had been eclipsed by other scents (beer appealed to me quite a bit at the time), and I had largely forgotten about my obsession with it. I was working in a deli before I went off to graduate school, and one day I was adjusting some containers of potato salad when I caught a whiff of something. My palms got sweaty, my heart fluttered, my head swam; I nearly threw up all over the containers of potato salad. Bleurgh! What is that stench? I couldn’t place it right away, but there was something familiar about the scent. Then, in a flash it came to me. It’s Polo! This realization was quickly followed by the thought, Wait a minute . . . Polo reeks?

As I was puzzling this over, I had an epiphany: Polo makes me sick! It wasn’t love! It was nausea!

Liberated from years of unrequited passion, I shrieked with laughter. That poor customer. He had no idea why I was running away from him at top speed.

Four Out of Five

Time’s up. Please put your pencils down. The Five Things About Me Quiz is finished. The answers are below.

1. I was a cheerleader in high school.

Dive, are you sitting down?

Oh, this is fun. The looks I get when I admit this are priceless. YOU?! YOU WERE A CHEERLEADER?! people shout when I tell them. Yep. I was.

Please stay seated, Dive, as it gets worse.

I was not only a cheerleader; I was also the captain of the squad. In other words, I was a great cheerleader. I have the trophies to prove it (well, they are gathering dust in my parents’ attic, but you get the idea). If Smokestack makes herself known here, she’ll tell ya. I rocked the house.

Just as no one sets out to be a junkie, I didn’t set out to be a cheerleader. Thing is, I needed an activity for college, and dancing wasn’t going to cut it. I needed something I could letter in. I couldn’t play basketball. I wasn’t terribly good at softball (I throw like the girl I am). They didn’t offer volleyball until my junior year (I was pretty good at that).

I might not have possessed great athletic prowess, but boy could I dance, and I could yell loud enough to raise the dead. Hence, cheerleading. Even though I went to a tiny, conservative Christian school, we had real uniforms with short skirts, and we did plenty of jumping (and cartwheels, and flips, and splits). I hated it. I was not a stereotypical cheerleader. I was not popular, nor was I outgoing (Little Sassy Schmoozer took a big long snoozer during my awkward teenage years). I tried to quit my junior year, but my coach wouldn’t let me. Instead I became the captain of the cheerleaders.

So, yes I was a cheerleader in high school. I was also an excellent student. It always amused me when people at school used to put the cheerleaders down for being ditzy and dumb, especially since some of the most intelligent girls in school were on the squad. One of my cheerleading buddies majored in math and went on to earn oodles of money at IBM. Thanks to my AP credits, I was technically a college sophomore half-way through my first semester in college. But you know, I was like, a cheerleader, so I’m, like, totally dumb and stuff. Totally.

2. I worked at McDonald’s for a summer.

Doubly sad, but also true. I started college in the middle of a recession (thank you, Reagan and Bush I). There were no jobs, and so we were all taking what we could get for work. I had to suck up working at Mickey Ds. I was a vegetarian McDonald’s employee who really didn’t care if people got their fries in a hurry. They didn’t like me much.

My first day, I donned my high-water polyester pants (I am all of five feet, three inches tall, and I have never had a problem with high-waters before or since) with the arches emblazoned on the ass, the polyester striped button down complete with bow tie, and the visor. My friend beheld my appearance and nearly died of asphyixiation. In no way did I look like myself. I’m not just saying that. My McDonald’s costume would have made the perfect disguise if I had wanted to live a life of crime.

One time I worked at another store, and after my shift I changed my clothes before going back to the counter to get an employee drink. They asked to see my employee ID. I had to show them my mustard-stained uniform before they believed it was me and forked over the Diet Coke. When I brought back my uniform at the end of summer, one guy who hadn’t been particularly nice to me took one look at me and exclaimed, “You’re pretty?! Holy Shit!” Ha. Ass.

3. I can roll my tongue.

True. I also have hitchhiker thumbs. My second toe on my right foot is longer than my big toe, and if you believe the story, that makes me a werewolf. My hair’s perfect.

4. I’ve run for public office.

FALSE! Fooled you! I have never run for public office. I’m too much of a rabble-rouser to be interested in running for office. Besides, I was a wild child in my wild days, and there are pictures to prove it. I inhaled. I might get elected dogcatcher, but that’s about it.

5. I’ve been tear gassed at a protest.

True. By Canadian Mounties, no less. In the spring of 2001 my coworkers and I traveled up to Quebec City, Canada, to protest at the Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings. The authorities were stopping people at the border, but we had rented a car and wore decent clothes, so we got a pass. Although I didn’t personally witness any violent activity, the cops did not want thousands of protesters anywhere near the meeting headquarters. So, they repeatedly fired tear gas into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The stuff’s awful, and I’m horribly allergic to it. It made me very sick, but my allergist always considered me a hero after that. I’ve been to plenty of other protests in my day, but that was the only time I’ve been tear gassed.

Before Girl is indeed the Smartest Person Alive. She’s the only one who figured it out.

Tacky Gift Party

One of the highlights of my holiday season is the Tacky Gift Party. For years, my friends and I have scoured the world for the most useless, ugliest, most sick and wrong gifts we can find for less than $5. Then we wrap them up nicely and exchange.

In days of old, the Friendly Toast restaurant, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home to some of the worst art ever created, served as the backdrop to Tacky Gift. Our wait person would judge the contest (we tipped well). Times change, however, and this year Tacky Gift will be held at a friend’s house. The host has instructed guests to bring the items like Twinkies, Tab, spray cheese, cocktail weenies, Boone’s Farm “wine,” Natty Ice, and Devil Dogs for the festivities. We won’t eat or drink, but merry we shall be.

A continual work in progress, there are no hard and fast rules to Tacky Gift. The following guidelines, however, are enforced:

  • The lower the cost, the higher the Tackiness Quotient. Tie will go to the cheapest gift. Hence, re-gifting always lends an advantage.
  • Kitsch is not the same thing as Tacky. Kitsch is too cool to be truly tacky.
  • In order to qualify, gifts must be something that people can conceivably imagine someone giving as a present.
  • The Uselessness Factor is always appreciated. A puzzled “What is it?” uttered upon opening is a sign of a truly tacky gift.

Memorable prize-winning gifts have included an orb of undetermined substance and origin; a clear Lucite rose ring holder, with hideous blue perfume in the flower—this thing also lit up and played a tinny, electronic Für Elise; a gigantic portrait of a copule’s eldest son; and a two-videotape set of the Left Behind movies, starring ex-child actor Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame and badly based on the biblical book of Revelation.

The recipient of the tackiest gift pledges to display the gift in a semi-prominent place for a year (that plastic flower gizmo was an eyesore, but I really feel bad for my friend who had to display Left Behind for an entire year), and the giver of the tackiest gift gets to bring home the plastic drunken Santa wine goblet as a trophy. The trophy is currently in my possession. I’m fairly confident that I will get to keep it, because here is my gift.

    I discovered this patriotic Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™, bear, clearance price $2.99, while taking one for the team. If you don’t know about him, Thomas Kinkade is a strange bird. He’s an “artist” of the cheesiest order known for some bizarre outbursts. Take this story from his Wikipedia entry.

    “In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion (“about six years ago”) Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting ‘Codpiece! Codpiece!’ at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.”

    Like I said, I’m going to win. If a patriotic bear designed by a drunken Siegfried and Roy fan obsessed with codpieces and his mother isn’t tacky, then I don’t know what is.

    Random Monday Musings

    Holy crap, this story made me laugh. I can see it now. A family brings home their Christmas tree, and the fresh pine scent fills the house. Mugs of hot chocolate all around. Singing along with the Christmas music, the family begins to decorate. Everything is just holiday perfect until… Aieeeeee! The tree has beady little eyes! I can see a horror movie franchise here. Perhaps I should write a screenplay, The Christmas Trees Have Eyes. Whaaa haaa haaaa haa.

    So I didn’t go out with Flattering French Guy, as you may have guessed. I just couldn’t go through with it. I called him and wound up having to leave a message saying that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to meet up. When I hung up I felt nothing but relief. There are other men out there, and I’m sure that Flattering Guy can flatter his way in to some other woman’s heart.

    Nothing much went on with me this weekend. I stayed close to home and made some major progress on the holiday knitting. Check out my posts on Punk Rock Knitters (here and here), if you’d like (exception: Ms. Smokestack cannot click on these links, or she will ruin her surprise).

    The only other thing of note that happened to me was that I fell in the driveway. Splatted was more like it. Hey, Grace! I turned my foot, and now I’m walking with a limp. I have huge bruises on my elbow and hip. Pretty. And now it’s off to the warehouse.

    Christmas Cheer

    Hot Chocolate and the Best Yard Sale Find Ever

    After I graduated from college I went home to live with my parents for a year before I started graduate school. Two of my high school friends also returned to our hometown, and the three of us divided our time between our lousy part-time jobs (I worked in a supermarket deli, one friend was a waitress, and the other ran a sandwich shop) and the bar. We partied. We had more boys after us than we’ve ever had since. We had no major responsibilities. We were miserable.

    When Christmas rolled around that year, we all had to work Christmas Eve until mid-afternoon. It had snowed the day before, but the Christmas Eve broke sunny and not-too-cold, and so we decided to go sledding. All activities in those days required alcohol, of course, and the occasion called for something particularly festive. We decided upon a little concoction we dubbed “Christmas Cheer.”

    Christmas Cheer is disgusting. Here’s the recipe:

    You’ll Need:
    2 heaping teaspoons instant hot chocolate per partaker
    1 cup hot water per partaker
    Peppermint schnapps, I’d say to taste, but it was really more to obliterate
    1 candy cane per partaker
    Instant whipped cream, if desired

    To Assemble:
    Boil the water
    Add instant hot chocolate to mug
    Add boiling water to about three-quarters full, and stir
    Add schnapps (or shnappies, as my friends would say), and stir

    To Garnish:
    Spray whipped cream on top, if desired
    Add candy cane—Festive!

    Repeat, as often as desired


    I don’t remember much of the sledding trip, but I do remember singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs and feeling absolutely awful afterwards (but with minty fresh breath!). It was the best Christmas Eve ever. All anyone has to say is “Christmas Cheer, wink wink,” and we’ll sigh and get all misty-eyed with remembrance of our last carefree days.

    Last Christmas one of the friends flew in to see her family. I picked her up in Boston, and we hung out for the evening at my place before heading to New Hampshire for the festivities. On a lark I had procured a bottle of peppermint schnapps under the pretence of making Christmas Cheer. We drank red wine and reminisced about it instead. Feeling wise and hangover-free, we left for New Hampshire the next day.

    My neighbor, apparently short of booze for the holidays, broke into my apartment while I was away and stole my Christmas Cheer. My guess is that he spent Christmas Day avoiding all things merry and bright.