The college essay that explains enough

Hilarious. Psychotic. Flaky. Artistic. This peculiar combination of words only begins to depict the eccentric personality of my surrogate father, Mr. B. Providing guidance and permanence, delivered with wit and obscenity, this man offers a conflicting package of life lessons and humorous memories that profoundly affects my approach to life. Whether teaching me to laugh at absurdities, rejoice in differences, or struggle inexorably against adversity, this complex human, encapsulated in the inconspicuous body of a middle-aged father, has enhanced and ignited my curiosity with this world.

“Maca-tiiiii-ni!” his braying falsetto voice would reverberate down the hallway of the school. Mr. B’s short, yet athletic body followed the verbal summons, prancing in an awkwardly inelegant manner, successfully making himself the center of attention. He reached me through the crowd of students and pounded my shoulders with his “fists of fury”. His outrageous behavior, once embarrassing, now seemed oddly comforting. His habit of mocking the ridiculous, trivial name-calling of youth seemed humorous as he delivered it. Once teased by others because of my unusual name, I learned to accept the title through Mr. B’s strange habit of calling me by any name other than my own. Becky, Lisa, and Midge were my usual nicknames. Unlike other adults’, with their lectures about the principles of sticks and stones, Mr. B’s world transcended into the world of youth. His preposterous mimicry allowed me to laugh at the heartlessness of cruel words. His parodies emphasized the potential unimportance of words and stressed the significance of actions. He taught me to laugh at myself when necessary and enjoy the ridiculousness of life. Whether enduring the pain of shyness, size thirteen shoes, or a bad grade, Mr. B. encouraged me to approach the indignities of being a teenager with humor, and a certain amount of reckless abandon for that which you cannot control.

Quite the literary savant, as a successful writer and journalist, Mr. B used words unreservedly and vociferously. Public places were filled with his clever rants of swear words, odd phrasings, and vernacular descriptions of body parts. This insufferable habit caused me to blush, to look downward, and to wish for the power to transport myself away. However, with time, I began to appreciate the freedom of his language. Mr. B did not fear the consequences of using “forbidden” words; he challenged society’s definitions of appropriateness. His occasional unsuitability was a perspective of the immediate community, not necessarily the reality of his words. I learned to accept the differences of personalities and perceptions. He taught me that the beliefs of others should not influence your own voice. His actions and words demonstrated the vitality and interest that diversity of beliefs can bring to a population.

Recently, Mr. B raced his bicycle down the steep hill adjacent to his home and fell. The resultant brain injury irreversibly changed his life. The medication proved as difficult as the initial trauma. While taking the pejoratively nicknamed, “supermodel drug” (“because it keeps me thin and stupid”), Mr. B suffered a fading capacity for words. He was unable to read or write and watched his livelihood crumble. Enduring inexplicable torment, he kept smiling. His enthusiastic grin and rowdy attitude demonstrated his willingness to adjust his life to fit with the new parameters. His focus and creativity resulted in new paths. Today, after succeeding as an artist and a restaurateur, he is a fantastically successful cinematographer. As I am frustrated with the limitations and regulations of my school, he reminds me that there are many choices of paths, and that there is not one “right” answer, but rather, a multitude of choices. He reminds me that with creativity and self-examination, and a little humor and zealousness thrown in, journeys may take us to places that we had not imagined. He taught me that stubborn persistence overcomes anxiety and fear and that unexpected trials may lead to equally unexpected wonders.

His influences stretch far beyond the greater moral lessons of life. He taught me that the t-shirts from the thrift store are crazier than the tees at the Gap, that nothing tastes better than homemade vanilla ice cream at the end of a summer’s day, and that every Tuesday is fajitas-for-dinner night. He gave me the stability and caring that was missing with my absentee biological father. He showed me that a punch in the arm meant the same as a hug, that it was all right to make silly faces through the classroom door window even when you were in high school, and that when life was not going right, nothing feels better than a game of “incredibly violent indoor ball tag”. Always funny, usually inappropriate, and never ordinary, Mr. B reflects the best in life. He lives by example. His actions demonstrate compassion and acceptance, humor and creativity, and most of all, love for life. To me, he was a friend, father, and hero. Mr. B has helped me to live my life in a way I like, and love every moment of it.

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Bad break

A coop break in last night left us completely without our flock of baby chickens.

Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa

This past weekend I was driving through our small quaint New England town and approached the traffic circle slowly, because it’s still winter and some people seemingly have no winter driving skills in our small quaint New England town. As I began the circle, I passed the war memorial, then the snow covered flower beds and then the elderly man carrying his pro-Trump signs screaming something I could not understand and then a 200 hundred year old tree and, right then i realized I’d seen an old man with supportive Trump propaganda and I immediately pulled into the nearby hotel parking lot.

I walked across the road, into the center of the traffic circle and I began to approach the elderly man and I could hear, as a car would approach, he would begin some sort of rhythmic chant, “stop persecuting the president, stop fake newsing the president, stop…” and on it went. I got close enough that he looked over his shoulder and made eye contact. He had that gaze to his eyes of someone not quite sure what they’re doing. I said hello and he nodded, looked back toward the road, a small car approached and he began his chanting, “stop persecuting the president,” and in that very instant something magical overtook me and I just began my own chant, “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck” I screamed, much louder than the bewildered old man, like a crazy chicken who only knows one word.

The car passed and he again made eye contact, this time the dementia had disappeared from his confused face and his anger was visceral. “What the hell are you doing,” he asked. “Practicing my first amendment right, just like you,” I explained. The sound of a down shifting 18 wheeler caught his attention and he spun around and began his chant, “stop persecuting…” I again chimed in, rather eloquently I should add, with the same vigor and clarity, but maybe a bit louder this time, “fuck fuck fuck fuck.”

The truck driver passed, probably unaware of our choruses because it’s still winter and not a single car would pass the entire time with a window rolled down. Again the confused man looked back at me. “You gonna do that with every car?” He asked. I nodded and said, “are you?”

For about fifteen more minutes, cars, buses, campers and delivery trucks passed, hearing a grumpy old man spewing silliness about his president, and hearing me, doing a terrible Eric Cartman impersonation saying as many fucks in 15 seconds and I could muster. The old man confronted me again and said “I have every right to be out here, on public land, expressing my opinion.”

“As do I,” i replied.

“Fuck is not an opinion.”

“It should be,” I said, with a smile.

He walked back to his spot and picked up the sign that said, “MAGA” in giant red letters, turned again towards me and tried to frisbee toss it at me. It was right at that very moment that a local police officer entered the traffic circle, witnessed the entitled crusty old man throwing a large piece of propaganda at an obviously innocent park loving local, and he stopped, turned his lights on and got out of his car. I should add, we live in a small New England town, sign throwing might be the worst crime of the month.

The officer walked up to the old man and asked what he was doing. I could hear him explaining that he had been out, showing support for the president, and I had disrupted his public adoration with obscenities. The officer looked at me and I nodded and I remarked, “I could not let this sort of public abuse continue without a proper counter argument.” I think he smiled a little, because the elderly man turned a different shade of white, picked up another sign and said, “you son of a bitch liberal, you’re what’s wrong with this country,” and then he threw the sign that said “god loves Trump” at my head.

The police officer had the entitled bitter geezer cuffed in a matter of seconds. The old man was frothing as he said, “oh right, that guy can say anything and you do nothing, but a law abiding tax paying citizen gets arrested.” He was about five feet away from me, his hands cuffed behind his back, his face now sweating and twisted in that obsessively confused, but still angry sort of way. I reminded him, “that first amendment in a real bitch sometimes.”

“Oh you sure do love that first amendment, right sissy boy?” He spewed. The officer grabbed his hands and began to walk him to the police car. “How you feel about the second amendment loud mouth?” He asked, over his shoulder, as the officer opened his car door and helped the old man into the back seat. “It should be abolished,” I answered. The door closed and the officer began to walk towards me, as the uninformed entitled old man began to scream “fuck fuck fuck” at the top of his voice.

The officer looked at the obviously insane man spewing nasty words in the back seat of his sedan and said he’d make sure the old man would get a 72 hour psyche evaluation and asked if I wanted to press charges. I declined, but could not help smiling as the police car pulled away and the exasperated old fool continued to scream fuck like a drug addled wild eyed crazy man. I picked up the propaganda, pushed it into the trash bin at the hotel, got in my car and drove home.

Punxsultawney jockstrap

Just judging by local lore and the invaluable appearance of a man in a florid jockstrap, I’m going to officially announce that we have 3-4 weeks of winter remaining.

A few weeks ago I found myself alone in our house, close to ten o’clock at night, in desperate need of ice cream. I grabbed the keys, got in the car parked in the garage and drove to the nearby ice cream/gas station place. Only when I got out of the car did I realize a number if issues. First, I had grabbed the keys, but not my wallet. Second, upon stepping from the car, I felt the ice give way and my foot sank into a puddle of ice cold water, which soaked my fluffy indoor only super comfortable slippers. I found enough change in the car for a pint and waddled into the ice cream portion of the store and realized I was clad in only dilapidated sweat pants and an old paint stained well worn white t-shirt. Sometimes we do things without planning or much thinking, lesson learned.

It was with my own lack of self awareness for proper winter wear that I found forgiveness for the man in the jockstrap.

A little history, three years ago I was enjoying an early morning coffee, reading the morning news and opening the blinds to allow the sun to begin to light the library. I looked out at the empty road in front of our house and I noticed a man walking quickly down the hill. This is not a strange occurrence in our neighborhood, from dawn to dusk and many times before and after, the roadsides will be filled with runners, walkers, hikers, bikers and people walking pets. We do a lot of waving to some very friendly people.

I looked at the man walking down the hill and the first thing I noticed was how deeply tanned he was. During New England winters you don’t see white people with a tan, ever. So it was just a little shocking to see someone with not only a deep tan, but as he closed in on passing our house, I made note that he was not wearing a shirt. It was certainly below 20 degrees outside, but some of the college kids will run by any time of the year with only shorts on. It’s a thing. This tanned man was different, because he appeared to be about three decades removed from any college and he was only wearing a jockstrap and some old running shoes.

I’m not really a judgmental sort of person, more a live and let live type. I watched the jockstrap man pass my house as I sipped coffee that first winter when I noticed him. Later that morning I asked my husband if he had ever noticed a man in a jockstrap walking by our house. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “i think you’re crazy.” That was the only time that year that I saw the tanned man in his jockstrap. It was also the last time I mentioned the tanned jockstrap wearing man to my husband.

A year ago, I was recovering from what some people referred to as a self inflicted knife wound, an injury I attested to the fact that knives are sharp and I am a terrible juggler. I was taking some pain medication at the time and not sleeping well, so I again found myself in the library, reading an angst mess of a novel by Philip Roth, American Pastoral. I found myself looking up and noticed a figure walking rapidly past my house, on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. I stood, walked to the window and made sure I could see what I thought I was seeing, a deeply tanned man in nothing but a colorful jockstrap and some old running shoes. I actually shook my head for a few seconds, imaging that I could remove the clouds and see clearly, see something besides an older man, now walking away from me, his asscheeks pushed together by the tightness of his jockstrap. Much more information than I was comfortable processing in both the haze of pain medications and confusion from Philip Roths use of similes.

This very morning, unable to sleep and pacing relentlessly in the library, desperate for an end to this bitter winter, I had begun thinking only of all the things I could do when the snow melted and the sun returned. We had just escaped some sort of polar apocalypse and there was wet heavy snow covering everything, except the walkway across the street. In any weather, the college has a small tractor clear the walkway, year round. So I was noticing how interesting the dark walkway looked, as it slithered up the side of the roadway, surrounded by the crisp whiteness of the thick snow. As I was looking at the plowed walkway, the tanned man in a jockstrap strode right by my field of vision. Immediately I began to look for my phone, because after what was now the third time in three years, I needed photographic documentation, because no one ever believes anything if you can’t supply a picture as evidence. My own daughter has refused to believe I only wear recycled Amazon delivery boxes as clothing, because I have yet to send her a photo. Modern times.

I found my phone 20 minutes later, in my studio, where I had accidentally left it 4 days ago. Of course the jockstrap wearing tan man was long gone, so I do not have the documentary evidence anyone could reasonably expect. That said, I have noticed something incidental that may prove valuable. I feel ill at ease mentioning the exact intricate math related evidence, but let me just say, if I’m right, you can safely plant your tomatoes in 3 weeks. You’re welcome.

 

Timing

I just got a call from a muckraking journalist, who asked if I was interested in an interview.

Before I could hang up my dog bit my sock and started to leave the room. I tripped trying to both hang up the phone and convince her that my sock was still securely attached to the underside of my foot.

Things did not go well.

I bring this up because at this moment in history, socks are more important than dialogue.

My dogs reassignment surgery went way wrong

I got an early morning call from the Vet Vet around 10, which is not nearly as early as I thought it was. I answered on the seventh ring. 
“Hi Vet Vet.”

“Are you sitting down?”

“If you installed that hidden web camera like I suggested you would know that already, wouldn’t you.”

“Now is not the time for joking.”

Vet Vet is a former Green Beret who served our country in two tours in Afghanistan as both a soldier and a dancer in USO shows, plus a tour in Iraq, solely as a dancer, but still, it was war time and I did no service at all. When Vet Vet returned from the war he got a degree in Veterinary medicine, thus the double Vet Vet name. Plus both Gren Berets and Veterinarians are not known for their sense of humor.

“When is the time for joking, cause you should call back then.”

“Seriously, I have some unfortunate news.”

“Please don’t tell me my dog is dead.”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your dog is dead.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“She died in surgery.”

“She was in surgery?”

“Sex change surgery, you didn’t know?”

“Well, I always knew she was more butch than bitch, but I did not know of her plans for a change in positions.”

“Well, she came in yesterday.”

“She came in by herself.”

“No, she came with her lover.”

Yeah, her lover. Oh, I could tell you all about her “lover”. You know, if Rick Santorum needs a poster couple for everything wrong with gay marriage and the gay lifestyle and the gay everything, it would be my dog and her long time lover Momma Kitty. First of all, I am not sure how committed Momma Kitty is to either her long term lover or to actually the whole gay lifestyle, having birthed no less that 16 children while “committed” to her long term lover, my recently deceased dog. 

I guess now is not the time to complain, plenty of time after the funeral.

“So what you are saying is, my dog came in and demanded a sex change and you did the surgery.”

“Of course not, we did some initial counseling weeks ago.”

“Counseling? You counseled my dog?”

“Well, I gave her some treats, and I showed her pictures of the various types of implants, she didn’t seem to pay much attention. She finished the treats, then she licked herself for a while. That was about it.”

“That’s my dog.”

“Well, that was your dog. She’s gone now.”

“Probably in doggy heaven right now.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. There is no such thing as doggy heaven. Trust me, if there is a heaven and hell, god does not waste space on dogs and cats, and if he has space for dogs and cats you can bet your last dollar that he does not want a sexually confused lesbian Australian Shepard prancing around with a prosthetic penis.”

“Harsh.”

“Just being honest.”

“Well, thanks for that.”

“So, what would you like me to do with the body?”

“Right. Well, certainly you should donate her organs to charity.”

“Already done.”

“And her fur to doggy cancer patients.”

“We did that the minute the cat unplugged the respirator.”

“And I guess you could donate her collar to a dog at the Humane Society.”

“That’s very thoughtful.”

“I’m sorry, did you say something about the cat unplugging the respirator?”

“Yeah, oh, right. Yeah, the cat pulled the plug, we think it was probably an accident. You know how, when a cat gets really black out drunk they do these crazy things like unplug respirators and things like that?”

“Yeah, sure, that shit happens all the time around here.”

“Sure, same here. So, we had installed the dogs new penis and she was just recovering and the cat comes stumbling in the surgery room and is completely wrecked on vodka and high as a kite on cat nip and she’s all over the room, pissing on gear and meowing like I’ve never heard. Then she just starts unplugging everything.”

“What did you do?”

“Oh, my cell phone rang, I walked outside to talk for a minute.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, it’s weird, the reception is, like 10 times better outside.”

“That makes sense.”

“Anyway, when I came back in, the cat was passed out and your dog was dead.”

“Completely understandable.”

“So.”

“Yes?”

“About the bill?”

Then my phone went dead. Bad reception goes both ways I guess.
Repost from 2013.