Tuesday, June 20, 2006

You Don't Look A Day Over Adolescent

So… last weekend. Peanut, Kate, E, and I went to a fair. Because, in case you haven’t picked up on this, Peanut and I LOVE fairs. (What’s not to love?) So we went down to the Waterfront in Old Town Alexandria for the Red Cross Fair.

Unlike the last fair, this was not brought to us entirely by monkeys. In fact, I think it was brought to us entirely by clinically insane people. (Which is kind of ok, because the minute I walk into a fair I lose my mind anyway, with the walking around demanding everything I see like a four year old child.) But anyway.

The thing is, the fair? Had a pirate ship. And I don’t mean a ride. I mean an actual floating in the water pirate ship. And we wanted to go SEE the pirate ship, because pirate ships are inherently awesome and you automatically turn into a superhero when you board one. (You do.) (Seriously.) So our goal was to go board the pirate ship and be superheroes. This made perfect sense in my Fair-induced mindset. I even had plans to go buy one of the sparkly light up swords, because… pirate ship. It was totally swords and superheroes all the way for me! Except…

We couldn’t find the pirate ship.

I mean, we could SEE the pirate ship. It was right over there! Across the water! But no matter how many ways we tried to get there, short of actually swimming across the inlet, we simply could not get to the ship. And as we were walking for roughly the 42nd time in exactly the same wrong direction, we maybe got a little distracted.

By the fudge sauce guy. And by that I mean the guy, who had like 40 different kinds of fudge sauce, who was giving away said fudge sauce by the spoonful. Yep! Spoonfuls! All flavors! Every kind! And the thoughts of the pirate ship and the swords and the booty and the “Arrrrrgh!” completely left our minds as we devoured spoonful after spoonful of delicious fudge sauce. Which we then bought insane amounts of.

Y’all? We are the Worst. Superheroes. Ever.

Then things just got stupid.

One of the things that this fair had a lot of was give-aways. Many places to put your name in a hat and possibly win stuff. (Or, more likely, commit yourself to marketing lists for the rest of your life). One of these was a kind of place that apparently everyone has heard of except me, where they put in windows or give you sunrooms.

(Note. I have no idea. I just don’t get this at all? Who… who lives in a house with no windows? How are there enough of these people to warrant whole companies who just… add windows? And the sun room thing? Like… you win! A… room. A whole room. They just come and drop off a room? How does this work? Who DOES THIS???)

Anyway, having a house, and far more of a clue as to what was going on with the window/room place than I, Peanut led us all into the Sunroom they had on display. (The room. On display. So like, if you won, you… took the room?? Seriously, people, I do not get this.) But we were only in the room a second when the woman (see above re: clinically insane) came running over, shooing us out.

Woman: “Out, out! You can’t be in here!”

Us: “Um. Ok?”

Woman: (snottily, at Peanut.) “What, are you entering the contest? Are you the homeowner?”

Peanut: “Um… Yes, I… have a home.”

Woman: (looks a little closer at all of us) “Wait. Are you all teenagers?”

Us: (Very amused and also? Confused). “Um, no. We are adults? All of us?

Woman: “Are, like, two of you the parents?”

And, ok people, this is definitely the most insanely ridiculous thing that has happened to me in a long time. First off, we do not look like teenagers. We are all in our mid twenties. E has actual gray hair. And why would the woman first assume that all of us were a bunch of kids, and then flip to assuming that two of us were actually the parents of the kids? None of this made any sense at all, and Kate about summed up the situation with the following answer:

Kate: (deadpan, looking the woman full in the face.) “No. If that were true, this whole thing would be a little creepy.”

The woman apologized, sort of, but also looked like she absolutely did not believe us. At all. Even as we left, I am sure she believed that we were secret teenagers trying to pretend to be older. Either that, or that we were the most screwed up family on the planet.

So none of us entered the window/room contest, we never made it to the pirate ship, and I did not buy a light up sword.

But I have five jars of chocolate fudge sauce.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dance Your Cares Away (clap, clap)

We really are a special breed. Last night I got a phone call from SecretAgent, inviting me over for steaks on the grill. Since this sounded like the perfect end to the weekend, (a weekend in which, might I add, I simultaneously was confused for a 13 year old and failed to be a superhero due to chocolate fudge sauce- details in a minute), I jumped on the metro and headed to his house.

S met us there, and we made steaks and veggies and grabbed beers and then sat down to watch… Fraggle Rock. Yes. Fraggle Rock. These are my friends: three adults, a steak dinner, and muppets.

But the story actually gets worse. Because just last week A and I had the following Gmail chat:

A: “ I’m just mopey.”

Me: "That's ok, you're allowed to be mopey -who, by the way, is totally a second cousin of the seven dwarves. And also... wasn't it a Fraggle?"

A: “I think it was only Dopey.”

Me: “Dopey was NOT a Fraggle.”

A: “Right, I’m saying he was a dwarf.”

M: “Oh, and the Fraggle was Mokey, not Mopey.” (I looked it up). “I think Mopey was the missing link between the dwarves and the fraggles- the bastard love child of Dopey and Mokey.”

A: “Totally.”

(A and I both totally have careers, I swear.)

Anyway, I repeated the above conversation to S and SecretAgent, who also totally agreed with the speculation regarding Mopey parentage, when we noticed something. Mokey wears a ring around her neck. A diamond ring. And… do you know who has unlimited access to jewels?

That’s right. Dwarves.

Which means, Mopey might actually be totally legitimate, but no one knows about him.

Of course, since Snow White came out in 1937, and Fraggle Rock in 1983, (and did Dopey and Mokey maybe have kind of a May/December romance there? Or, as conversation last night wondered over, is Mokey just ancient?) Mopey is probably, like retired by now. So breaking the news of his parentage isn’t anything as awesome as getting the scoop on, say, Suri or Shiloh.

However, I just wanted to make public exactly what four adults, all four of whom have careers, and three of whom are in graduate programs, could accomplish if they put their heads together.

(And then, most likely, slammed them against each other, killing their braincells).

More on last weekend later!

Monday, June 12, 2006

This Fair Brought To You Entirely By Monkeys

But First: Rocking the Suburbs, an Addendum:

Remember how I mentioned that Peanut had called with poison ivy? Heh. Yeah, since Peanut and I both can never do anything in even a remotely easy way, and we both have a tendency to end up in hospitals, I should have known this would not end well. Turns out she actually has poison sumac, and it is over most of her person, and a large patch of it on her arm managed to get infected, so we spent five hours in the emergency room yesterday while they pumped her full of steroids and antibiotics and painkillers. She will be fine, but this has proven two things to me:

1. My Demon Vine was by far NOT the deadliest thing in the yard, and perhaps did not deserve all of my contempt, and

2. I think I win this round of “suburbs v. the city”, because nothing on my balcony ever tries to kill me.

Now, back to the monkeys.

A few weeks ago, Peanut and I were talking about how much we liked fairs. Then at work, my supervisor mentioned that there was a fair only about 20 minutes from my house, so I e-mailed Peanut about going. Peanut’s e-mail was down, however, so I never heard back. Instead, I focused Saturday on trying out new recipes from E’s indoor grilling cookbook.

(See, when I woke up on Saturday, um… afternoon, Kate was helping E study for the Bar, and no one was paying any attention to me at all. So I needed an outlet, and that became focusing on dinner. Which was really really good, and I love the lovely indoor grilling cookbook.)

Anyway, Saturday night Peanut came over for dinner, and I mentioned the Fair. Paying absolutely no attention to the fact that yes, I HAD told her about the Fair, Peanut demanded we go to the Fair. Now.

Which was fine, except: I had a massive, giant, nauseating headache.

I almost never get headaches. In fact, I only get headaches for one reason (ok, two reasons, but drunkenly smacking my head against hard things just doesn’t count), and that is a stupid reason, which is that I get myself highly addicted to caffeine and then if I do not have any my head explodes. Which is exactly what happened on Saturday.

But it was my own stupid fault, and I refuse to welcome my caffeine overlords, so we got in Peanuts car to head to the Fair. Which, remember, was 20 minutes or so away. However, Peanut’s car, which is generally wonderful because it will tell you where to go, sometimes likes to fuck with us. There was one week where no matter where we went; the car would not let us make right turns. I mean, we could see on the little map thing that we were driving in circles because it refused to give us directions with a right turn in them. Saturday? The car told us to drive in precisely the wrong direction for 10 miles before turning us around and getting us to the Fair.

We finally made it to the Fair, where I promptly turned four years old. People were walking by with giant monkeys (I swear, 90% of the prizes were monkeys. GIANT monkeys), and I am instantly like, “I want one of those.” Y’all? I don’t even like monkeys. But I wanted one. Luckily, Peanut introduced me to Whack-a-mole, which I won, and got myself a large, (if not giant) white monkey to carry around the Fair. We named him Gilbert. (Kate and E seem to think he is an abominable snowman, and not a monkey. However, having seen the Fair, and the unnatural amount of monkeys at the Fair, I am secure in my knowledge that Gilbert is a monkey.)

Then we decided to ride the Gravitron. We had discussed the Gravitron in detail, as it was both of our favorite rides from childhood. However, there were two problems with the Gravitron:

1. This Gravitron was NOTHING AT ALL like the one I had grown up with, and
2. Did I mention my crippling headache?

So the Gravitron I know and love involves leaning against a wall. Then the room spins fast enough that centrifugal force pins you to the wall, and then the floor drops out from under you. You then spend the rest of the ride desperately trying to make sure every available atom of your surface area is pressed up against said wall, looking in disbelief at the morons who are actually trying to pull away from said wall, and calculating the potential injuries if you were to fall off said wall (and trust me, y’all, if anyone could fall off a wall, even against all the laws of physics, it’s me). Or at least… that’s what I do. But it is fun, and your confidence grows until if you ride it enough times you may actually try to remove a hand from the wall.

The other thing? It is a calm ride. You don’t even really notice the spinning.

This Gravitron? This was nothing like above. Oh, there is still a wall, but the wall has these… padded areas. And the guy was like, “Do not put your arms between the padded areas”. Which… huh? Because, don’t you want to have as much of your body against the wall when the floor drops? And… what about my monkey? No one else had a monkey, and I didn’t know what to do with the monkey. But I just sort of went along with it. So, at the start of the ride, I am:

- Backed up against a padded wall.
- Expecting the floor to drop.
- Holding a monkey.

Apparently, however, in THIS Gravitron, the floor does not drop out. OH NO. That padded thing I was leaning against? Is on a track. And as we speed up and slow down, the pad either flies upwards, crashing at the top of the room, or flies downwards, smashing into the floor. And we begin spinning and I watching the floor waiting for it to slowly start to drop and then all of a sudden “WHOMP” I go flying upwards and then Peanut comes flying up at me and I have no idea what is going on, and there is loud music and then the evil ride man turns off the lights, which seriously in retrospect I don’t know why it bothered me so much because it just meant that I couldn’t see the floor as “WHOMP” I came crashing back down. This happened several more times and Peanut just continued to laugh at me as I begged her between shrieks of utter terror to explain to me what the hell was happening.

Finally, as the ride was ending, I got the hang of it, and it was fun. However, I learned something very, very valuable, namely:

Things That Do Not, In Any Way, Help A Headache:

- Zero gravity.
- Loud music.
- Flashing lights.
- Screaming.
- Flying upwards and smashing into ceiling.
- Falling downwards and crashing into floor.

However, I also discovered Things That Are Surprisingly Comforting When You Have A Headache You Have Just Made Horribly Worse Through The Exercise Of Stunningly Bad Judgment:

- Monkeys.

Anyway, I ended up getting a cup of coffee before bed, and Peanut and I enjoyed the rest of the Fair. There is a large one in her hometown soon, and we are planning on going to that one, too.

And this time, I am SO ready for the Gravitron.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Demon Vine

Welcome to Part III of Peanut’s and my weekend of yard work, in which we spent many hours enjoying the fresh air and communing with nature. That is, until nature actually showed up, then we pretty much switched from Gentle Communing With Nature to Murdering Nature In Creative Ways. Of course, by “Nature” I mean “things with more than four legs”, which are, of course, completely expendable. Part I covers my historical fear of all things creepy crawly, and Part II illustrates what happens on the Scary Side of the House and how Peanut and I did NOT set the giant spider on fire.

We spent the rest of Saturday beginning to clean the backyard, then we went to dinner at a fabulous little Italian restaurant and saw a movie, returning to Peanut’s to sleep because I was going to get up in the morning and continue to aid her with the yard work, because my will to live had been effectively sapped by the Giant Spiders. (Yes, that is plural, and no, I am NOT going to talk about it.)

Sunday dawned and we began to continue our work in the backyard, which at this point consisted mainly of 5 things: 1. Raking leaves and other debris, 2. Bagging leaves and other debris, 3. Breaking down large sticks, 4. Cutting down a large dead bush, and 5. Freaking out and creatively killing Creatures. I pretty much took care of number 1, while Peanut worked on 3 and 4, and we would come together every half hour or so for number 2. (Number 5 is a whole other issue, explained below.)

So I am raking, and raking, and raking, and things are pretty ok. For some reason I was far more afraid of the side of the house than I was the backyard, and so if I just didn’t look very closely as I raked I pretty much did fine with any Creatures. However, after only a few minutes of raking, I realized that I had a problem. Throughout the backyard, woven insidiously through all of the bushes and shrubs and trees and whatnot, was a vine. But not your average, everyday vine. This vine had an agenda. This vine had an evil and vile purpose.

This was a Demon Vine.

And as I continued to try to rake around it, stopping roughly every three seconds to fight my rake free, bend over, and YANK on the vine, only to either be completely defeated by the vine NOT MOVING, AT ALL, or to barely stop myself from toppling over backwards as the vine sneakily snapped off in my hand right as I put my whole body into pulling on it, my battle with the vine became personal. And I mean, deeply personal.

So basically, poor Peanut is happily working her way through the yard, destroying sticks and trimming bushes, having no idea that I am now enacting a personal vendetta against a plant that I have personified to the point of evil in my head. Therefore, she had no idea what she had done wrong when she casually mentioned to me, “Oh, don’t bother pulling the vines in that corner, I am going to leave them there.”


Now, was I grateful that there was a whole corner of the yard in which I would no longer have to battle the vines? Was I accommodating because, after all, it is HER backyard and she pretty much has a right to tell me what she wants done to it? No, no I was not. In fact, I was hurt. Hurt and a little pissed, that after NINE YEARS of friendship, she had the NERVE to choose the DEMON PLANT over me. Like, this was some sort of personal attack or test of our friendship. (I had completely and totally gone batshit crazy, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

What I did do, however, is hand Peanut the rake, explaining that I would probably be less careful around the vines than she would (less careful? Hello, Gross Understatement. I wanted those vines dead. Brutally, violently dead), so she should probably do that area. And I tasted the sweet, sweet taste of victory and vindication when after a few minutes of close, personal acquaintance with the Demon Vine Peanut threw down her rake, declaring, “SCREW IT. FUCK THE VINES.”

Delighted, I responded by asking, “So… I can destroy them?”

Peanut: “Yes, fine. I don’t care. Stupid vines.”

And yes, now, days later and in the air-conditioned comfort of my office, I feel a little embarrassed about what occurred next. Because I didn’t just kill the vines, I gloated at the vines while I killed them. Because I had won.

However, in addition to Demon Vines, we also had to battle the Wasp and His Nest. Funny thing? You know my whole pathology in re: Spiders, where I freeze and shriek and move faster than the speed of sound and Peanut laughs at me? Yeah, turns out she has the exact same reaction to wasps. Which basically meant two things, 1. The wasp HAD to go, and 2. I had to be the brave one. Yeah, I know, I know, I don’t exactly inspire confidence. But I was still giddy off my defeat of the Demon Vines, and trust me, what I make up in bravery I gain in sheer creativity. So Peanut and I managed to kill the wasp and nest, using the following tools:

1. Plastic Bag from Target.
2. Garden Hose.
3. Mexican Hat Dance.

See, the nest was in the candle holder part of an outdoor lantern-on-a-stick type candle. So first we got the plastic Target bag and tied it around the end of the lantern. Therefore, we could no longer see the wasp, and he could no longer see us. However, he also could no longer fly out of the lantern and attack us, so we were a step ahead. Then we removed the stick part from the ground, and carried it to the now clean Scary Side of the House, where the hose lives. We then proceeded to fill the Target bag with water.

Now, this was the scary part, because even though I was being all brave and “aren’t we clever” in front of Peanut, I knew that this had a roughly zero percent chance of working. Simply, wasps don’t drown. Growing up, I had an in ground pool, and one year for biology we had to do a “Bug Project”, which- much like spider crickets- I believe was invented purely to fuck with me. But my friend and I tried to be brave during the part where we had to gather and identify and pin insects, and we discovered several nice specimens, including a giant wasp, in the water below a layer of ice in the cover of my pool. Got that?

Under water.

About 20 minutes after we brought it inside, the wasp started buzzing around. My friend and I locked ourselves in my bedroom, which was on a different floor, and stuffed a towel under the door, and waited in terror until her father got there.

Point being? Wasps don’t drown. However, I was hoping the water would at least stun it. Which it seemed to, enough for us to get the bottom off of the lantern and shake the wasp out, into the Target bag.

Which we then did the Mexican Hat Dance on, until the wasp and the nest were sort of a Creature Sludge.

Eventually, Peanut and I did clear the whole backyard. There are only 2 things that are worrying me now.

1. Rumor has it, next weekend there will be mulching.
2. Peanut just e-mailed me, and she has POISON IVY.

I’ll keep y’all posted.

The Scary Side of the House

This is the second installment of the “Rocking the Suburbs” series, in which Citycat and Peanut do yard work for an entire weekend and battle all sorts of evil and otherworldly creatures commonly referred to as “nature”. The first installment is here.

Ok. So Peanut and I view the backyard, which is seriously frightening looking. I started to lose hope quickly as we tried to plan strategy.

Me: “We should move that extra grill”.

Peanut: “That grill is holding up the fence.”

Me: “…Oh. Um, and the pole over there?”

Peanut: “The fence is somewhat lacking in structural integrity.”

Me: “Hrm. Yeah. Ok, what about the broken swing?”

Peanut: “We can move that to the side of the house.”

Me: “Great! Let’s move it!”

Peanut: “Heh. Have you seen the side of the house?”

Ok, so there we go. In order to clean up the backyard, we had to move the broken furniture to the side of the house, and in order to do that, we had to clean up the side of the house. So we walk over to the side of the house. This did not look good. It looked, in fact, like the perfect incubation area for giant alien-type spiders. Sometimes, I hate it when I am right.

We had been raking and clearing up the area for about an hour or so when Peanut made that noise. You know what noise I am talking about. It is the noise that says, “Oh, shit. I have just discovered something utterly and completely terrifying, yet I am doing everything in my power to keep my shit together and not freak out the other person near me, because that would not be good at ALL”. Y’all? I hate that noise. With a passion. Of course, I instantly freaked out, freezing, holding my rake as a weapon, and demanding, “WHAT. WHAT IS IT? YOU MUST TELL ME OR I WILL KILL YOU WITH THE RAKE.” (I am so, SO not rational under these circumstances). Peanut responded, clearly barely holding it together but doing an admirable job of faking it, that I was fine, just don’t move.

Now, here is the thing. In a circumstance like this, where someone has made that noise, and I know there is a scary/creepy/awful thing in question, and I don’t know exactly what that thing is, but I know that things in general have an ability to fly/jump/skitter, I do not want to be told that I am fine. And I especially don’t want to be told that I am fine if I do not move. I will decide if I am fine. Preferably from a position SEVERAL HUNDRED FEET AWAY from the source of that noise. And I cannot GET several hundred feet away without moving, so this whole conversation was going nowhere fast for me.

“It’s ok.” Peanut said, edging away slowly. “Just wait here and don’t move.” And she disappeared to the front of the house.

She disappeared to… Oh, HELL NO. There was not a snowballs chance in hell that I was “Waiting here” and “not moving”. SHE LEFT ME ALONE WITH THE CREATURE. I think I broke land speed records and possibly the sound barrier leaping past the general area where the Creature was and joining her at the front of the house, which she emerged triumphantly from carrying a large can of bug spray.

She proceeded back to the side of the house, where I heard the sounds of spraying and screaming. I do not know exactly what happened here, because I was clearly not returning to the side of the house any time soon. The Creature could have stolen the bug spray from Peanut and have been spraying her. It could have been beating her to death with a rake, for all I knew. I am maybe not the best person to take with you on a trip to the rainforest, is all I am saying.

Eventually, she came back around, declaring proudly that it was dead. “Do you want to see it?” she asked. Now, clearly, NO, I did NOT want to see it. I wanted to pretend that it didn’t actually exist, so seeing it was contrary to my denial. However, I know a little something about Creatures like this. I know their sneaky, revenge thirsty ways. So I snuck up slowly behind Peanut, to where she was pointing at a foam covered blob. “See?” she said. “It’s dead.”

But I knew better, and I was right. No sooner were the words out of her mouth than it moved. “NO IT’S NOT” I managed to shriek, on my way back to the front of the house. Then Peanut started shrieking, and then, swear to god, she said to me: “Go through the house, on the back deck is the lighter for the grill.” I was halfway back into the house when my brain, thank GOD, kicked in. I was able to process the entire scene somewhat rationally in my head, and it went like this: Pile of wood, dry leaves, almost entire can of flammable bug spray, giant Undead spider, get the... lighter for the grill? I saw where this was going, and it was nowhere good.

I went back near the side of the house and announced to Peanut that she was NOT setting the spider on fire. “Why not?” she asked. “Too Arachnophobia? Having absolutely nothing to say to that, I simply handed her a shovel, which she bravely used to hack the thing to pieces.

Then her neighbor came over to see if she should call the rescue squad, because we apparently sounded like we were being murdered.

The funniest part was that Peanut could barely speak to her neighbor at all, because she was laughing far too hard at me, whom she had never seen move so fast. “You were next to me, and then you were gone.”

I explained to Peanut that she was lucky I had stopped in the front yard, that there was a good chance that I would have simply kept going, and been halfway through DC by the time she noticed I was gone. And then she clearly would have set her house on fire.

Stay tuned for part three: Demon Vine.

Rocking the Suburbs

Or, in my case, raking the suburbs. Potentially, ALL of the suburbs. Which would be why currently? My hands no longer work.

I spent all weekend doing yard work. Yes. YARD work. The funny thing is the reaction when I tell people this, because there is generally a moment of uncomfortable silence, and then they say to me very gently, as though talking to a crazy person who could go off the deep end at any moment, “But Citycat… you don’t HAVE a yard.”

Yes, I know this. I live in a high-rise for a reason, actually, several reasons, one of which is yard work. It’s not that I mind yard work per se, exactly, in theory it’s great. You are outdoors, communing with nature, there is instant gratification in seeing the yard improve, it’s good exercise- all of which I am totally a fan of. However, there are a few things about the actual practice of yard work that I have issues with, namely:

There Are Creatures.

Y’all. I do not do nature, and this is entirely the fault of things with more than 4 legs. Anything four legged, I can handle. In fact, anything NO legged I can handle as well, including things that make others twitch, like snakes and Jurassic-sized earthworms. But more than 4 legs? No. Just, no. Case in point: A few months ago Kate, E, and I had a cockroach in the apartment. This occasionally happens, especially in spring, but usually I don’t even know about it until I find its Jake-battered corpse (good kitty!), or I make E or Kate take care of it. This time was different, for three reasons:

1. It touched me.
2. Jake did not see it.
3. Kate and E were not home.

So what did I do? Did I kill the cockroach as it sat on the chair? Did I trap the cockroach as it sat on the chair? HELL NO. That would mean approaching the cockroach, and I do not do that. Instead, I grabbed a book and wine and sat on the balcony, door firmly between me and the roach, for an hour and a half until Kate and E came home.

Clearly, I am not so much brave when it comes to creatures.

But if you think I am bad with roaches, you should SEE me with spiders. Because I am not simply afraid of spiders. I don’t simply think they are gross or icky. What I have is an actual pathological fear of them, where even small ones make me freeze entirely unable to do much more than shriek and shake. I am not proud of this, but this is true. I have even passed out at the sight of an infestation of spider crickets once, which are not even actual spiders, they just imitate them for the sole purpose of fucking with me.

Yard work implies creatures. Hundreds and hundreds of creatures. This does not bode well for me.

However, the Peanut needed help with yard work, and I volunteered because I am a good friend with severe mental issues. So for 2 days last week, I faced my fears (sort of), rakes thousands of leaves, and battled the most Evil Vine on Earth (more on that later.) I am going to break this post up, because it is long, and the next one will be a summary of Day 1: The Scary Side of The House. (aka: Where the Wild and Disgusting Things Are.)