Monday, January 19, 2015

I Nearly Blinded My Brother With A Flute

In polite society, my parents won't mention I had a temper growing up. Beneath a pleasant disposition and penchant for snuggling, I harbored rage that was often directed toward my brother, Will. I don't know why, and I don't know where the rage came from, but it was there, and Will often reciprocated with more rage. We've never done any one thing to create an irrevocable rift between us (that I know of) so perhaps like most rage and hatred, it was pointless and random.  Regardless, we both have a childhood furnished with literal and emotional scars. One of William's bottom teeth is off-colored due to the time I pushed his face into a hardwood floor, and I have an anxiety about bumping my shins into things ever since Will bit one of mine so hard a pool of purple blood swelled around his teeth marks.

What's odd is that I think we enjoyed it. Sue me, but the only things I really regret about that era are the times I hurt Will's feelings--the moments when cruelty truly reared its gaunt, clown-like face in full. But the times we got sand in our eyes, or getting a pine-cone smacked into our temples are events I wish we had filmed. Those memories are tucked snuggly in a pocket of my brain unoriginally labeled "boyhood."*

Will and I packed enough physical violence into our daily life that even if we didn't want to hurt each other, we did.

Take the time my parents made the dire mistake of purchasing me this:

The recorder, Satan's flute.
To be fair, my entire third-grade class was required to own a recorder for school. Mine was the only white one out of all 25 of us, because we had already had one somehow. If my life were a movie, this would have been referred to as "foreshadowing," or an "omen," or a "benign signal of imminent disaster." But life is not a movie, and we had no idea.

I took to it fairly quick, playing Hot Cross Buns daily and without end. I learned new songs fast and could twirl it in my fingers like a small baton. The twirling was actually the first trick I learned to do with it before school even started. When our teacher asked if anyone knew how to use it on the first day back, I shot my hand up. As I got up in front of the class and started to spin it instead of blow air into the mouth piece, my classmates lost their minds. OOOHHH, they bellowed, eyes wide like cats who had never seen a ribbon before. Our teacher realized she needed to ask more specific questions if her herd of little assholes were going to properly learn how to play the recorder and torment their families at home.

What she, nor anyone, could have foreseen was the need to inform us (me) of the instruments physical properties--that since the recorder comes in three pieces and can easily be assembled, it can also become unassembled just as easily. Had I known, I could have prevented one of the worst moments in projectile-caused injury in the history of my family. But as I said, there was no way for any right-minded human to imagine I would use my recorder as both a musical instrument and a baseball bat.

It happened on a Saturday afternoon in the kinder months of Summer. Will and I watched TV at our grandparents' house while our parents ran errands. During commercial breaks, I played my recorder while Will slouched further and further into our grandfather's armchair. In an act of false security, we were left unattended (the fools). Neither Pepa, nor Mema checked in while we grew bored. They did not pop in while I crumpled a piece of construction paper into a ball, and began bunting it across the floor with my recorder. They hadn't called down as I grew tired with bunting and excited with the prospect of hitting a mini home run.

As Will reached for his Gameboy, I tossed the ball of paper into the air once more, and with all of my fucking might, I swung. I heard the mouth-piece whistle as it bee-lined for Will's face. I stood stock still for a second, holding the beheaded recorder in terror. Will's hand shot over his right eye and the other eye grew wide and dark. Out of all the infinite points of trajectory in that room, the disembodied mouthpiece took a linear, lightning-fast path to my brother's eyeball. Time and space slowed, like when the lead character in a war movie stops fighting to watch mayhem ensue in all directions.

What followed was a sound I will never forget--the only sound in the world that would make me grateful for dementia later in life. Imagine a tea-kettle coming to a boil, only, instead of a whistle, an air-raid alarm is attached to the spout, and instead of water, magma from the Earth's core is setting it off. That was William's scream. He was so loud and pained it melted my brain stem. It called forth the countless fights, insults and injuries of our past and compressed them into one mental flash-card that read,


As I ran down the hall, screaming for my grandparents, and an ambulance and God himself, I couldn't help but consider the odds of this happening at all. The moment had gone from slow-motion to fast forward: both grandparents entering the room, applying cold compresses to Will's eye, calling my parents, calling the hospital, parents arriving, parents leaving with Will, and grandparents asking me what in the hell happened. When Will returned, he walked through the door wearing an eye patch and an expression that telepathically forgave me but also told me to go fuck myself. Dad informed us that his eye was bruised, but the projectile mouthpiece just barely missed destroying his sense of right-eye vision completely. In that moment, we both aged to adulthood and back.

While the incident forced me to vow more caution and less rough-housing, William's eye continued to suffer. Through no intention of my own, shit kept becoming air-born and smacking him in the same wounded eyeball. I sorted some old comic books and tossed one toward a trash can: it flapped open, changed its flight path and sliced Will's eyebrow. I unbuckled my seat belt upon getting home, and flung the buckle over my shoulder: it caught on my pinky finger, lassoed around the seat, and collided with Will's cornea. With Will in toe, I walked through our front door and kicked off my flip flops: both flew in perfect arcs and landed directly on his face. One-Two. It was as if the cosmos had centered an inordinate amount of energy toward my brother's bruised eye-socket. His wound was a black hole and all free-flying debris would be sucked in.

My father separated us, realizing I was a threat to Will under any circumstance.

"I didn't mean to!" I wailed. This being the desperate plea of all pre-teens. You can't be mad because it was an accident, God Damn it! AN ACCIDENT!!

"I don't care," my dad said, slicing his flat hand through the air, palm down. "You stay on this side of the house, and Will, you go next door. Cover your face."

Poor Willy. He was inured and fate kept salting the wound. The sheer guilt, pain, drama and fucking coincidence of it all forced me to question whether God and Satan were split personalities of the same psychopath. Did I mention this happened a week before Christmas? It did. Will wore an eye patch for three family gatherings and for each pirate-related comment he received, I felt his good eye burn a curse into the back of my neck.

Several Christmases later, I received a delayed karmic punishment by slicing my finger open while cutting carrots. I thought it might be interesting to cut the carrot from the middle by pushing the blade through the carrot's exposed center. I attended three family meals with a bandage the size of a rabbit foot freezing my finger in a permanent point. As I struggled to use a fork, Will regarded me from across the table, wearing a grin that squeezed his massive brown eyes into glimmering, chocolaty slits. He was either pleased that karma had finally sought balance, or that his will to curse me had worked and that he might be a witch. Jury's still out on that one, though it's probably both.


*Girls allowed.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Boy Who Flapped

For as far as I can remember, my attention span has Needed Improvement. In elementary school, we received a report card with a non-traditional line of lettering: S equaled "Satisfactory," G equaled "Good," VG equaled "Very Good" (a coveted honor), and N equaled "Needs Improvement." N might as well have been written in red and smeared across our little chests because these weren't grades on our assignments; they were measurements of our character. This was a time when our abilities to Pay Attention, Cooperate with the Teacher, and Work Well with Others, were observed to alert our parents of how we functioned as a small human being. Though I didn't realize it at the time, they were not unlike psychic tea leaves, predicting how well we'd do in middle school, high school and, depending on the number of Ns, college. I was always awarded G or VG when it came to creativity, class participation, and shouting my thoughts--the fun stuff. Paying Attention was my hamartia, my fatal flaw, my hovering demon that, to this day, could turn a harmless road trip to upstate New York into a five-day epic through Toronto. I saw a lot of N's when it came to paying attention.

 My brain likes to flap away into the air, imagining fake circumstances, reminiscing on great and terrible memories, or writing really great titles to books and movies that have no plot, cast, or opening paragraph. I love these thoughts, because they excited me, and I loved being excited. I love it so much I consider it a hobby. At a young age though, I had a physical "tell," when I got amped up. As my mind flapped away into the ether of my imagination, my body was back on earth, jumping up and down and... flapping. I flapped the shit out of my over-sized hands and couldn't stop until someone got embarrassed enough to pin my arms down. Even for a child, it was not an easy thing to watch. Imagine an old lady at a restaurant who's been doused by the falling cocktail of a clumsy waiter. She can't get up because she's old, so she just flaps her hands in a wet panic. That was me from ages 4 through 13, except I was also jumping up and down. Eventually, my dad bought me a trampoline so I would stop shaking the floor boards.

This, combined with the focus issues at school, encouraged my mom thought I might be tested for ADHD. I don't remember whether the test was specifically for ADHD, or if it was just a general scan to check for any an all abnormalities, but I was brought in for something.** In order for the test to work properly, I had to sleep soundly for a certain amount of time with a helmet of wires glued to my scalp in a room with three different computer screens, a microphone and a strange nurse. This would be impossible for me (or anyone with the sense of touch) under any normal circumstances, so my mom had me stay up all night in order to be tired enough to be tested successfully. We watched TV, made snacks, and played board games. When I started to snooze, she played "Hit Me Baby One More Time," at high volume and I managed to sing along with full choreography.

The next morning, I was real tired. I dozed in and out during the car ride to the mysterious sleep center until we arrived at what looked like a dentist's office made out of felled trees. We had to wait for half an hour while I struggled to stay awake. When my turn came, a woman that I will describe as hard-bit brought me into a room where she applied a hat of wires and sensors that had to be glued to my fucking scalp. To comfort me, she told me about her neighbor who wanted to sleep with her, but he wasn't gonna get it, and that Annie was an ugly name. I was too tired to ask whether she was really a nurse or another patient, so I followed her into a bedroom with the screens and the microphone.

"Okay, go to sleep," she said, pointing to the twin sized bed next to a desk.

"Um..." I said, wary of the entire situation.

"Aren't you tired?" She asked, slightly incredulous

"Yeah, but this helmet of wires kind of hurts," I mumbled.

Nurse Feelgood pursed her lips and moved back a wire clipped to my earlobe, which created an intense pinching sensation.

"How's that?" She asked.


I tried to sleep, but I fucking couldn't with the Hell Raiser hat glued to my scalp, so I kind of failed the test. The nurse informed my mom that she couldn't get a valid reading and I had to come back again some other time.*** I definitely slept for the second time around but I'm unsure of the results. I didn't receive any medication or therapy, nor was I forced into to doing children's yoga, so I guess I ended up being fine. Perhaps the lack of focus was just a phase, a small brain elbowing its way through manners, volume control and listening skills and grow to where it could calm down and be still for five minutes.

Unfortunately, things did not unfold so graciously. I continued to flap at random. Like that time in 6th grade when I foolishly tried my hand at team sports.

My Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Dresssuit, surprised my class with an afternoon trip outside to the field. We were elated and demanded that we play kickball. After we filed out and picked teams, my team lost the coin toss and had to pitch first. I was assigned right field, a spot reserved for the mentally challenged, and dashed out to take my post. The prospect of catching a fly ball was so exciting that I managed to laser point my focus to the infield for about 15 minutes of play until the game was paused. One of the kickers started moaning how horrible the pitcher was at rolling the ball in a perfectly straight line. This carried on for about two minutes, which was enough to make me lose interest and wander into a fantasy that I'll probably never forget.

The year was 2002, a time when British pop sensation, S Club 7, was at its cultural peak. I was such a fan. Ever since they sang Ain't No Party Like an S Club Party, Fox Family, I wanted to become the eighth member and make out with the blonde one named Jon. The previous night, I had watched them perform the song live for a screaming audience. I had thought about it all night, and all the next morning, and as fate would have it, right at this moment during the kickball game. As my classmates argued about line curvature, a veil came down over my eyes and I imagined myself on a stage. A sea of wild fans screamed below me as I danced intricate choreography alongside my fellow S Clubbers. There were elbows rocketing back, there were hips moving, and punctuating each move was a high-kick maneuver where I clapped my hands under my lifted leg. I was having the time of my life imagining all of this. Only, I wasn't imagining all of it.

I would like so badly to tell you these moves only happened in my mind, but alas, t'was not so. I had somehow possessed my own body and I danced in real life. An odd silence snapped me back to reality when I turned and realized my entire class was staring at me. Some were laughing, some were looking on, stunned by second-hand embarrassment. Mrs. Dresssuit stared on, too, wondering if she had a schizophrenic on her hands. Five blacked out seconds later, the game resumed, and a girl named Shmennifer told me I was, "messed." This hurt, and for a long time, I let it bother me. But in hindsight, I would have traveled back in time to myself at that moment and whispered, "Keep dancing, you will never see any of these people again after Middle School." Now, as a 26 year old man-child with dependency issues, I like my flapping brain. It's the closest I've gotten to flight without a pair of actual wings (so far).

I understand the title, "The Boy Who Flapped" sounds like, "The Boy Who Fapped." I knew some of you sick bastards would see the connection immediately so I tried like heck to find a way to insert masturbatory innuendos into this post.  I'm not that clever so, instead, here's a picture of Linda walking in on Brad from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

We've all been there, amiright?

*Get over it.

**I would ask my mom to clarify, but she doesn't remember doing this at all.

***I don't remember this one. We're fucked.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Oh Brother, Where Art We?

To continue with the last post's theme of bathroom humor, I thought I'd share the story of how my brother and I became prisoners in our own home. William, whom I meant to call something else for anonymity purposes, is also mentally challenged like his family. I've never seen him cook something that didn't come ready made in a styrofoam cup, nor do I have any proof that he knows how to spell. I also remember his first solo attempt at stairs, which involved him hurling his toddler body over the first step. He learned the hard way that legs won't just figure it out on the way down. What a dumb baby, right? Fortunately for him, he can lie like a sociopath and has the largest, brownest, puppy-bear eyes ever seen in a human skull.

His ability to trick adults is rivaled only by his ability to inspire sympathy when he's been caught. There were several occasions in our childhood where I was the only one who knew he was lying. Everyone else was hypnotized by his giant, adorable head.

Do you see what the fuck I was dealing with?
Each time he got away with something (which happened weekly) I had my parents and grandparents before me, begging them to listen to reason. He's evil! He's BRILLIANT! I screamed, like that poor lady who got shot in Basic Instinct. William was Sharon Stone's character and I was the brunette with the Simpsons key-chain that Michael Douglas mistook for a gun. As it was for the dead brunette, my wailing was often for naught.

Even when he did get caught, punishment was another hurdle in the road. One day, Will was grounded for biting the head off a baby bird, or something and my dad told him he couldn't play video games for a week. I was elated--finally, he was paying for his wily behavior. The sun hadn't set before my dad left home and returned with a new X-box and a bright red bicycle for him. Victory was sweet, but it was oh so brief. Parts of my jaw are still on the ground in the driveway where words had failed.

"Wh-what is this?" I asked, realizing I was the last sane person on Earth.

"I felt bad," Dad responded, clearly forgetting the beheaded bird, or blazing cornfield, or whatever Will had destroyed. "Where's your brother?"

I paused and realized I didn't know. He could smell a game console from across state lines, so the fact that he wasn't holding the xbox in his arms like his own child was unusual. Soon enough, we learned Will had absconded through his bedroom window. This should not have come as a surprise to us, since he has never cooperated with any form of house arrest. I have a distinct memory of my dad holding him at arms length in a time-out corner while he thrashed and snapped, his face white with rage. I think his eyes literally turned black until he was released.

Will, age 13, hangs from the ceiling with a live bird in his mouth.
Will calmed down with the passing years. The violent streak was healthily channeled into video games, and his penchant for disappearing yielded no more than worried phone calls. Eventually, he even started to notify us before running off into the night like a wolf-child. Progress is relative. We were even able to withstand each other's company for spurts of time, which leads us back to our main narrative.

One Summer afternoon, I was enjoying a nap, or started to, at least. Since Will and I were at a point where we tolerated each other, we had reign of our mother's house while she and Dad were at work.* I was melting into the couch, dreaming about Oprah when I heard a faint wailing.

"aaaam!" The voice peeled.

I stuffed my face into the couch cushion and tried to ignore it. Seconds later, it grew louder and I heard a thumping noise come from upstairs.

Thump thump thump..."-aaaaam!" It said.

I huffed and rolled over, and managed to yell WHAAT, back up to the voice, which I now recognized as Will's.

"aahhhm-UHK!" He shouted back. I thought perhaps he suddenly forgot how to speak and was making random noises and trying to bang out some secret code through the floor. Speaking of which, why was he shouting through the floor? Had he also developed a delayed phobia of stairs due to the aforementioned trauma?

"aaaAaAaAAM!" He continued.

"FUCK. OKAY." I roared, pissed my Oprah dream would not be continued. I marched up the stairs and at the top step, I realized at once what happened. The bathroom door shook as Will banged and screamed, "I'M STUCK. I LOCKED MYSELF IN!" Had I not just been woken up, I would have loved this delicious moment with every molecule of my body. I was groggy though, and decided to help.

"What do you mean you're stuck?" I asked.

"The door." He said, "It's locked."

"Oh jesus, Will," I started for the handle. "How have you not figured this out yet?" You have to turn it a certain way." I opened the door and saw my little brother standing by the toilet, red cheeked, hair a-toussled.

"Yes, I know how it works, but-" he began.

"Look, I'll fucking show you how to do it."

"No.. No DON'T CLOSE THE-" But I had closed it. Will's mouth hung open, and his eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.

"Watch," I instructed. "You just have to hold the lock still, turn the handle clock-wise and... huh." It didn't work. "Maybe you have to turn it the other way..." Nope. I jiggled the handle some more but it was clear that the door was not going to open from the inside. Our mother's house is about 200 years old, and for a while, this particular door handle must have been jinxed because while at first it worked fine, it became more and more complicated with each passing year. On this particular day, the riddle of how to enter and exit our own bathroom became a touch more complicated. Apparently.

My confusion quickly turned to rage, and out of nowhere I turned and punched Will in the arm.

"OH GOD, why??" He screamed and melted to the floor.

"I don't know!" I yelled back, "I'm scared! We're trapped!"


"All right enough with the name calling. I'm sorry, okay? Someone will get here soon and let us out, right?"

"When, Sam? It's noon."

At that moment I remembered that both our parents weren't due to come home for the next 4 hours. Dad got out of class early, but he taught in Massachusetts, an hour away from our mother's house.

"Oh god," I thought.

The next hour transpired all right enough. Once we had calmed down we were able to laugh at how moronic we were. We tried yelling out to anyone who might hear, but the fine people of William Street were all at work. By hour two, nature started to fuck with us.

"Sam," Will said. "I have to poop."

"Absou-fucking-loutely not you don't." I sat on the closed toilet seat and planted my feet on the linoleum.

"I'm serious, I've been fighting it for so long that I'm afraid to fart."

"What the fuck were you doing up here before?"

"I had chili!"

"Oh god, okay, you can fart out the window." The bathroom window had a screen that we could have popped out and escaped through, if it didn't mean falling 24 feet to our deaths. It did, however, act as a great vent... like it's supposed to, I guess. As I moved to position Will's ass onto the screen, I saw an older woman walk by on the sidewalk below. As I lurched forward to scream out to her, Will farted on the side of my face, burning off 60% of my sideburns and right eyebrow.

"BUAHHHH!" I yelled, blind, deaf, and probably cancer stricken. Through my swelling eye lids, I saw the woman wave happily and walk on her merry way.

"I hope she dies," I said, hoping that I myself was not about to vomit.

Another hour passed and the phone rang about 20 times. "People are going to think we're dead," I said to Will, who was lying down in the bathtub.

"Yep." He pulled back the shower curtain and said, "Sorry for farting on your head."

"It's okay. When we get out of here I'll draw my hair back on with a marker. Do you still have to poop?"

"Nah, I think I swallowed it." I like to believe that this is how the idea for The Human Centipede was hatched.

"That's horrible. Also, hooray."

I found a spot on the floor that was warm due to its proximity to a pipe in the wall, and decided to take a second stab at my nap. Will fell asleep within minutes in the tub, but I struggled to get comfortable. I waited for his breath to steady into its deep sleep rhythm and took the opportunity to braid his hair while he was unconscious. His dirty blonde locks were too short to put into a full fish-tail, but with enough hair ties, I managed to give him a spherical series of stiff pony-tails, kind of like this:

This was more or less his expression when he found a mirror.
After the phone's 234th ring, I heard a car pull up in front of our house. The front bumper parked just so that I could make out the model and make and deduced it was Dad's Honda Civic.

"OH THANK GOD," I bellowed.

"Huh? Hm??" Will said, rising from the bathtub looking like a psych ward escapee.

"Dad's here!!"

"Oh, jesus, thank... what the hell's on my head?"


Dad came around the side of the house squinting up at me as if a giant bird were trying to speak to him.

"Boys? You're inside?"


"Oh for Christ's sake," He sighed. "I'm coming up."

Dad saved us, and we all felt ashamed and disappointed on many levels. Then he gave Will $800 and a round-trip ticket to Cancun.

Beautiful William/Spawn of Belial

*Parents are happily divorced and remain friends. Shout out to Mom and Dad breaking up right.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Urine: A Fast Track to Frenemies

I used to be in a college a capella group. We liked inviting other groups from all over the country to sing with us at our school and we, in turn, were invited to sing at other colleges. An especially exciting trip was the invitational concert at Drexel University in Philadelphia. We were thrilled because our school was in Storrs, CT, a town made up of mostly farm land that produces an astonishingly powerful aroma of poop during the summer. Philly was going to be like a vacation akin to the Beverly Hillbillies driving to California.

As a novice member of the group, I had a faint awareness that, while these invitationals were tame during the performances, the after parties could get out of hand. During one of our own, I walked outside of the group's house and saw a friend flirting with a stranger, devouring a burrito, and vomiting all at the same time. The miraculous thing was that the stranger didn't mind. He even took a bite out of the burrito. I couldn't help but be a little impressed despite being a little traumatized as well.

At a separate party, my group-mates and I all locked ourselves into the only bathroom and, without prompting, made out with each other for a solid ten minutes. People alternated partners and we all took turns peeing. A particularly modest member disappeared into the closet with whomever he wanted to kiss, and every thirty seconds, the doors would fly open and he'd eject his partner and someone else would disappear with him behind the doors. The people waiting outside were mad at first, but when 8 of us emerged from the bathroom, the angry line of pee-filled aca-bitches shut up exchanged horny glances with their friends. College is essentially a series of sexy rabbit holes that one must navigate carefully. My strategy was to always have one foot in, and one foot out, so I could witness the sexiness without having to explain myself under a heaping cloud of shame. We marched out of that bathroom without a shred of embarrassment, and it felt empowering. I managed to follow this code until we went to Philly.

The people who invited us to sing with them were an all-girls group, named the somethingwhatevers. We left a day early so we could enjoy the city's historical bullshit before we had to perform in order to cultivate our growing minds. We saw the Liberty Bell with the crack in it, some bricks with clues as to where we could find Nicolas Cage, and about 700 phillycheese steak vendors. The city was great, and the nerds in our group had a field day. Later that night, each group sang and the show went great. Everyone was thrilled to be there and the host group even performed a song they wrote with another all-men's group, the singerswithdongs. One lyric was especially cute:
Girl solo to specific Guy: And then you peed on my flooooooooooorr...
I remember nothing else about that song, which proves yet again, sex sells.

After the show, we went to one of the host's apartments for the after party. When we walked in, people were sitting, standing, conversing and drinking a kind of red liquid that smelled like gummy bears. Being used to a little more "activity," we stood still for a second like a group of apes that had wandered into a public forum.

Our music director, Shmenny, turned to us and said, "Remember, this is a private engineering school, so they're not... well-"

"Alcoholics?" Said, Eclara, our token red head.

"Exactly. Let's start drinking now, but let's also avoid the bathroom."

The party was pretty fun. Lots of nice people wobbled this way and that, eyes crossed from all the alcoholic gummy bear juice and upstairs, we learned that our host group sang a song that we also sang regularly. Within seconds 40+ people broke out into harmonized renditions of "The Chain," by Ingrid Michaelson. It was like being in High School Musicals 1 through 43 except the men had less hair on their chests. To say it was magical would be an understatement. Or maybe an overstatement. We were drunk and very loud. Either way, we had a blast and rushed for more alcohol, elated by the harmony now established between the various acapella clans. I had gotten to the point of drunk where I struggled to tell which fingers I could feel and whether or not both of my eyelids were open. I also had to suddenly urinate very badly. I hopped on line for the bathroom and conversed with a couple who revealed they neither sang, nor attended college.

"Howre you in here?" I slurred.

"Oh! We're friends with Marianfadka," the boy told me.

"Thatsth amazshing!" I tossed my hands up in polite surprise, spilling juice on my face.

We talked for a couple minutes and as my bladder swelled to the size of a watermelon, I realized the line was moving around us.

"Are you guys in line?" I asked

"No," the girl said, eyeing me the way you look at someone who is clearly drunk or insane.

"Great, I think I'm going to pee in my pants."

"Don't worry!" the boy said. "You can just come in with me and pee in the shower while I pee in the toilet."

I'm going on record here by saying that since the urine in my bladder overflowed and redirected to my brain, I had no choice but to agree to his proposition. Magically, he entered the line without being in it, and beckoned me to follow him. The party was still buzzing and no one seemed to notice the two of us go in together, and in that moment, I didn't care. He did his business, and I stepped into the shower and did mine. Mid-stream, I heard a voice outside the door say, "Marina, someone's peeing in your shower."

Sobriety is a funny thing. Sometimes, it comes to you suddenly and too late, like energy after the morning alarm has already been going off for hours.

This was a bad idea. This was real dumb. I remembered that not all schools are used to people running amuck in their private bathrooms and I had done just that. With a stranger! Shmenny's words of caution rang in my ears like a disappointed mother. Oh clarity! You elusive bitch. I was nowhere near my group mates so I had to think of how to get out of this on my own. I looked down at my feet and saw that I had tracked mud into Marina's formerly pristine bathtub. This is why I shouldn't be left alone, I thought. I silently scorned my friends for forgetting that I need adult supervision at all times.

I finished peeing the 3 gallons of urine in me and got on my hands and knees and started rinsing the tub with the removable shower head. The door opened and the deceitful, horrible, DOESN'T-EVEN-GO-HERE boy fled to his equally treacherous girlfriend. As I washed the mud and pee away, Marina and several of her own group-mates burned holes into my hunched back with their eyes. I got up and exited. Marina stormed away and everyone stared. Even the music got quieter. One girl remained ten inches from my face and asked "Who pees in the shower?" 

In an attempt to calm her down, I reminded her that urine is sterile, and I was very good at aiming toward the drain. This did not work, so she gave me a second chance and said, "Who pees in the shower??" I spotted the treacherous couple I had mistakenly trusted in line and said "They told me to!!" The girl and the couple all looked at me in pity. You can get away with barf-eating a burrito in college, but you can't blame others on where you urinate, like a dog that isn't house trained. I was hot with embarrassment. The girl shook her head and walked over to Marina, who was fuming in the corner. I walked over to the delinquent couple and the girl said, "Dude... never admit to peeing in the shower!" I don't think she realized that the door somehow flew open while I was doing it so lying would only have made things worse. Not to mention, even under the sobering gaze of everyone, I was still too drunk to fake amnesia, which I have done.

I left them and walked over to Marina, who was flanked by two of her group-mates/bodyguards. "Marina, I'm sorry," I said. "I know this can't make up for the fact of how gross that was, but I want you to know it was a stupid, drunk mistake and it's not how my group behaves. Please don't let this be a reflection on them." As I said this, I mentally asked myself what the flying fuck I was thinking while physically shaking like an abused puppy.

"Thank you for owning up," Marina said. "That's cool of you to do." Her entourage eyed me with death stares as I backed away to search for my group. I found Shmenny, our fearless and wise music director and said, "Hi, we have to leave."


"I did something gross."

Shmenny's such a good sport. Instead of getting angry, she smiled and asked for the details. "What did you do??" She asked excitedly.

"I peed in Marina's bathtub."

"Let's go."

Minutes later Shmenny rounded up the troops along with Chrystina, one of the host group members that was letting us sleep in her apartment. Fortunately, Chrystina shared Shmenny's humor and found the whole thing hilarious.

"I'm so humiliated!!" I wailed on the street.

"It's not a big deal," she assured me.

"No," I insisted. "I have to make it right. I'll get them candy. Where's the drug store?"

Chrystina told us it was only a few blocks away and that they served phillycheese steaks (of course they fucking did). This sent everyone into a drunk munchies-fever and we bolted. Shmenny clipped her boot on a raised cobblestone and lurched into a full tap dance routine and cartwheeled through the drugstore entrance.

We followed her in like a troupe of lit circus clowns and grabbed anything that looked edible. I loaded up as much of the best candy I could find and Chrystina bought me a blue blowpop the size of a microphone. "I got him a lollipop," she said to Shmenny. "Maybe that will calm him down."

"That's so nice of you," Shmenny said. Shmenny is one of my hundreds of guardians.

We exited with our loots and Eclara mouthed a cheese-steak. She offered a bite to our group-mate, Pandy, who was a vegetarian at the time. For some reason, she took a bite thinking the drug store offered vegan cheese-steak option.

"I'M A VESHEEFAARIAAN," she screamed, and spat the steak back into Eclarah's open mouth.

Chrystina maintained her Herculean sense of humor and laughed with us (at us). We were a mess--especially me. I had fallen down a bad rabbit hole and was still shaken by my shameful climb out. I wrote a long apology to Marina and the group and stole saran wrap from Chrystina's kitchen to make a little bag for the candy. The next morning, Chrystina bid us farewell and promised me she would deliver my penance to her friends. She and Marina friended me on Facebook three days later. Marina even wrote to me saying how sweet I was for buying them candy.

Some people might see urinating in the wrong place as an irrevocable mistake, but I learned in Philly that really, it's an opportunity to force people into awkward confrontations and be friends.

Me and my army of babysitters who left me unsupervised near a bathroom.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I Need an Adult: An Introduction

Hello. To those of you who know me, you are aware that beneath my sunny disposition and without-fail charm, I am a functioning moron. My life involves lots of traveling, and not because of an adventurous spirit, but rather a strong penchant for getting lost and forgetting things at home, like my wallet, phone, and a shred of common sense. Those of you who know me intimately are aware that I tested for ADD twice and am still unsure of the results. You are aware that I find refrigerators and any other shelving unit disorienting and that I have a false sense of invincibility when crossing the street. You know that I was also brought to an audiologist under the pretense of being possibly deaf, only to be diagnosed with "poor listening skills." You, my close compadre know that I once decided to paint my bedroom walls orange in an attempt to create a place of zen and was surprised to see it was more like living inside a flaming cantaloupe.

You are also aware I did not become a spaz over night.


I come from two outstanding parents who also survive each day despite being born without fully formed brain cells, for which I have no choice to blame for my own special mind.

BEHOLD... The Evidence:

Easter 2014. My mom gave my boyfriend and me the pleasure of her company at a late morning brunch. I and my boyfriend (whom I shall call Shmyler for anonymity purposes) watched in confusion as she ordered eggs benedict in piece meal. All the ingredients were there, just... separate. This would have been merely annoying had she intended to order each item in its own dish, but instead it was fascinating, because she didn't mean to do that at all. The confusion that coated her face when she received 7 different plates proved that this was not the meal she expected.

"What's this?" She asked. Shmyan, my cousin Jumbalya's boyfriend turned in the seat next to her and said, "That. Is the eggs benedict you 'ordered.'"

"Wha?" She asked, incredulous, her bright blue eyes searching our faces for the past five minutes, which she seemed to have apparently blacked out.

Jumbalaya told her to hold her hands up and stick out her tongue to make sure she wasn't having a stroke. She laughed and obliged. In a conscious act of solidarity, we all did the same and looked like a bunch of assholes. The waitress hovered patiently and waited for someone, anyone to let her get the rest of our food. Shmyler sensed her unease and said "We're fine." And she was off. Fortunately, Shmyler is a bona fide adult and takes very good care of me and every person I'm related to.

Christmas 2014. Mom granted me, my brother Shmilliam, and our grandmother the pleasure of dining with her at our favorite sushi restaurant. She ordered edamame immediately, as we were all starved from not having eaten in 5 hours. One full bowel* of un-peeled edamame pods were placed on the table next to a plate of nothing. Somehow, in the middle of de-shelling the edamame seeds from their leafy cases, my mom became confused and placed a full edamame pod into the plate reserved for the discards.

"Oh, someone keeps putting the empties into the bowl with all the un-empty ones!" She announced. Then she took the discarded pods and tossed them one-by-one into the bowel of the un-emptied ones. My body was too deprived of blood sugar to stop her, but Jesus took the wheel and she realized what she was doing and put everything back in order. Unfortunately I had already passed out from hunger and had to be force-fed shrimp to wake up. It worked.

DISCLAIMER: My mom is a derp, but also very successful. She has an innate sense of how things are processed and is therefore an excellent boss and a do-it-all mother. When people are in the hospital, she is listed as the emergency contact regardless of relationship because of her super-natural penchant for logistics. She is the person you want with you when buying a car, donating an organ, or doing anything that involves the DMV. She'll keep you laughing and be a living reminder that at the end of all dark tunnels, there is light. Her brain just needs a rest sometimes without her knowing it. This tends to happen during meals.

Moms, ordering a margarita in 27 different glasses.

Summer 199something. My Dad was kind enough to get lunch for the family when we all wanted pizza. My cousin, Jumbalaya, and I were about 4, and our moms informed Dad that he was to get us a large cheese and a large pepperoni pizza. He pointed his fingers like two pistols and said, "Okie doke."At some point on his trip to the restaurant, he decided that this was not amateur hour, and no one needs two whole pizzas. His method did not land well at home when he arrived back with a small pizza topped with sausage and jalepeƱo peppers.

In our youthful stupidity, Jumbalaya and I took two heaping bites and began wailing immediately. "HATE DIS PITHA!" We yelled while trying our hardest to rip our tongues out of our mouths. Despite the scornful gazes from his wife and sister, my dad laughed so hard the tears of joy came out faster than he could wipe them away. He has a penchant for torturing anyone (usually children), mostly on accident.

A Season, 198whatever. My eldest cousin, Shmimon, is born. His mother, Shmetty, mistakenly invites my Dad over to see him. Not thirty seconds pass before Dad holds Shmimon over his head like a football, running in slow motion down the hall while humming an ESPN theme song. Perhaps there was a point at which his only shred of maturity thought, "Hey, this kind of dangerous. Let's keep the infant at breast-level, huh?" but that was not the winning thought; the rest of his being, which is eternally trapped between the ages of 15 and 21, decided otherwise. "Fuck it!" His conscience said. "This kid's a football!" 24 hours later, Aunt Shmetty found her first gray hair.

DISCLAIMER: My dad is also a derp, but despite the overwhelming evidence, he is supremely compassionate and a very well-loved educator. He loves to help when he isn't fucking everything up. He is the person you want around when something breaks, or when you need advice on any artistic endeavor. He understands how things are built before they're built. He is my favorite creative genius. Famous teacher quotes include:

"Welcome to class. Please do not touch me."

"You all should be proud."

"Who are you people?"

Moments later he threw me into the river and strapped the fish into a stranger's car seat.

These are the trees I fall from, and let me tell you, I didn't roll far.

*CORRECTION: This word should be "bowl," not "bowel." We were not eating out of an anus.