Fake Doctors

The following is my opinionated, but not entirely unscientific, testimony for breaking up with dairy products.

Generally speaking, we Americans have been indoctrinated in the gospel of cow’s milk; being led to believe that partaking in it’s creamy goodness is not only wholesome but necessary. Milkiness is next to godliness. Don’t believe me? Turn on the TV and see for yourself. Interestingly though, no other adult mammal consumes milk and certainly no other mammal consumes the milk of a different species. Be that as it may, our near religious fervor for cow’s milk will not be quelled by the facts. To hear some folks tell it you’d think Elsie sits at the right hand of Christ as an honorary member of the holy trinity: Father, Son and Holy Fucking Cow.

Most milk comes from pregnant cows and contains huge quantities of the androgen hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), enough to regulate the metabolism of a pregnant 900 pound jersey cow and is also high in IGF-1 (Insulin like growth factor-1), the growth hormone responsible for turning a new born calf into a lumbering farm animal. Milk is baby formula and we make our own, there is no need to drink theirs. It is rumored that 75% of the world’s human population is lactose intolerant to some degree. This means that I am far from alone in experiencing the festive display of intestinal fireworks that commences immediately following the consumption of even the tiny quantity of half & half contained in a Mini Moo coffee creamer. I broke up with that low down bastard, milk, a long time ago but still continued in my love affair with cheese and yogurt because their cultured live enzymes made them digestible for me. I did not realize they were the perpetrators of another crime.

As a kid, my parent’s, like pretty much everyone’s parents, would miss no opportunity to plunk down a glass of milk in front of me and tell me to drink it. I was a small child, not sick, just slight but rather than stating the obvious which was that I was a healthy little person I was told, mostly by my grandmother, that if I didn’t start eating more food and drinking more milk that I would become frail and diseased, “like me” she would say. I consumed a lot of milk, yogurt and cheese so, in retrospect, maybe it’s not surprising that puberty hit me like a ton of bricks at age 11. While it never did produce a C cup bra size, it did mean I started my period in 5th grade and with it came a biblical scourge of breakouts that more or less put an end to my already minimal social life and led me to believe that I was going to have to work on being smart because skating by on my good looks probably wasn’t going to cut it.

My mother has recently informed me that she struggled with acne for a good 30 years; from adolescence until her mid 40’s, a fact that I somehow did not pick up on during the first 15 years of my life, but she swears is true. The thing is, she just told me this last week. I’m 35 years old. Last fucking week! Now, I’m not gonna say that she was a bad mother but I have a major bone to pick over this issue. When she told me of her affliction my first reaction was to throw something and demand “why didn’t you help me?!?!” She worked as a medical assistant in an urgent care center for about 12 years while I was growing up. There was a dermatologist who worked there too. I know this because she did take me to see the dermatologist, once. Granted, it is not my mom’s fault that this dermatologist prescribed some totally ineffective treatments but where I take issue is that she had the same problem and knew first hand how it affected her self esteem; transforming her adolescence into a painfully reclusive time yet, when she it saw it happening to me, she acted like it was no big deal. Not wanting to explode in her face with a tirade of accusations, I didn’t ask her why, but if I had I imagine her answer would be that I didn’t complain or ask for help and therefore she was blissfully (conveniently) unaware of my crumbling self esteem, assuming that there must be some other reason for my conspicuous shyness and inability to make friends. I didn’t complain or ask for help because I was too embarrassed and because I didn’t know that there might have been more help available. I think at that age, the responsibility for identifying and proactively addressing physical and emotional problems is the job of the parent especially when the problem was so visibly obvious and the parent was a health care professional. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, right? Seeing that I was destined to suffer the same fate as herself one might assume that my mom would’ve sought out every treatment option available, relentless attacking the problem from every possible angle until clear skin reigned triumphant. Instead, she would sit mutely by while my step dad berated me for wearing too much makeup, in what he assumed was an attempt to get “all whored up”, when all it ever was was an attempt to make my skin look normal.

In middle school I told myself life would be better by the time I turned 16. In high school I told myself all would be well by the time I got to college. At the beginning of college of I told myself there would be clear sailing by the time I turned 21. How long can puberty last after all? The answer; long enough to master the art of introversion or indefinitely, whichever comes first. Sometime around age 25 I stopped setting deadlines. Throughout my adult years, I’ve experienced varying degrees of severity; some years passing with only minimal disturbance while other years seemed like a repeat of 7th grade. I have tried EVERYTHING, every. fucking. thing; you name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve been to other dermatologists, all of whom numbly prescribe the same thoughtless regime of treatments that didn’t work the previous time either. Eventually, having no positive experiences to draw on, I really soured to the idea of seeing a dermatologist and resigned myself to finding products that didn’t make it worse and hoping for the best on a day to day basis. Things were actually pretty good for a few years in my late 20’s and early 30’s. I thought maybe I had finally won but then, about two and half years ago, it reappeared with a vengeance. A little breakout followed by a bigger breakout followed by an even bigger breakout until my complexion had gone completely off the tracks. I tried everything that had ever worked with any degree of success in the past, and all to no avail. My face was a disaster and all I wanted to do was hide but I still had to run my business and successfully close deals which requires a great deal of confidence, all the while feeling hideously ugly. After about 6 months of this nonsense, in a state of total desperation, I decided to once again see a dermatologist. This time, I told myself, is the last time. I’m going to ride this doctor like a fucking pony until they find something that works. I was committed to finding a cure. Incidentally, by this point I am convinced that there must be some stimulus, other than being smitten by God, that is triggering the breakouts; some hormonal, dietary or environmental factor that is working against me but I still have no idea what it could be.

On my initial visit to the new dermatologist, upon hearing my story and my feeling that there must be an underlying cause, the first words out of her mouth were “We don’t actually know what causes acne.” I was like “Are you shitting me?” Imagine that, the cause of the most common skin aliment in the world is not known by the doctors whose job it is to treat it! Really, I mean really?!?! Here we go again, I thought. While she was talking I stole a glance at what I assumed was her medical degree hanging on the wall behind her. Turns out, it was an associates degree in animal husbandry from Middleton Community College. A few months into my tenure she was writing me yet another prescription for a different oral antibiotic and I asked her if such prolonged use of antibiotics wasn’t adversely affecting my health in other ways. She looked at me like I was speaking in tongues and her answer was, get this, “but that’s how it’s treated.” Oh ok, so her plan then was to keep prescribing me oral antibiotics until the abdominal pain and intestinal liquefaction drew my attention away from my face and drove me to slit my wrists in the bathtub. There, problem solved. Eventually, after spending about 7 months and lots of money with this quack, I put in a vote of no confidence and went to find another new doctor. Unfortunately the new one was actually worse than the previous. Both of them did the same things: telling me that acne was a mysterious problem that may be caused by black cats or voodoo curses but definitely not by anything I may be eating and, since the cause is evidently more elusive than the aboriginal unicorn, there was really no point in trying to figure it out so just take these antibiotics until your stomach bleeds and use this horrible battery acid topical ointment that will cause 2nd degree burns, rendering the acne much less noticeable as a result. When these methods would inevitably fail they would get exasperated with me, like it was my fault their lame ideas didn’t work, and then just move on to the next items on the list, still making no effort whatsoever to consider the cause; hurriedly tossing another prescription at me and showing me the door. I only went to the 2nd derm three times. On the third visit she was so rude, curt and useless that I hit the end of my rope, sitting in my car crying with frustration for half an hour before I could get it together to safely drive away. This woman, whose degree I noticed was actually a framed certificate of authenticity for a 1985 Astronaut Barbie, actually said to me (after I shot down all her no-brainer suggestions), ” I don’t know what to tell you then.” Well fuck you very much doc, and thanks for nothing.

I know I can’t be the only middle aged person in America suffering from a chronic case of puberty and my heart goes out to anyone who is coloring their gray hair, applying anti aging treatments to their eyes and using Proactiv on their face all at the same time. If this is you and dermatologists have proven to be a condescending and useless tribe of fake doctors, I feel your pain. But there may still be hope for us yet. One night, during yet another exhaustive internet research marathon, a long overdue miracle occurred. I learned that, while it does not have the same effect on everyone, many people believe that the consumption of dairy products is a direct contributor to the presence of long term, treatment resistant acne in both teens and adults. Basically, the cow appropriate levels of DHT and IGF-1 present in any dairy product throws the human metabolism into a tail spin causing wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels, inflammation and increased oil and skin cell production and guess what all of these things are major contributors to? Surprise, surprise: acne. Admittedly, my love affair with cheese made me reluctant to test the the theory. Eventually though, I decided that no food tastes as good as clear skin looks and that if I wanted off this ride sometime prior to filing for social security, it was time to get serious. That was about 5 weeks ago. The first few weeks produced only nominal results and I was about to throw in the towel when, in week number 4, I began to see a dramatic improvement. Blemishes cleared up and new ones did not appear to take their place. Days are ticking by and, while I’m fully prepared to discover the whole thing is a cruel practical joke, so far the other shoe has yet to fall. With a long history of disappointment I am reluctant to announce the occurrence of an official according to Hoyle miracle just yet but, for the first time in a long time, I am optimistic.


Missing: The King Of Porn

I have an obsession and it’s growing like a tumor. It all started with one little thought: I wonder whatever became of the self proclaimed King Of Porn, Samuel Crimson? Upon consulting the Googles I learned that he directed 40 films in 7 years and then vanished right off the Earth 4 years ago. When I say vanished, that’s what I mean, not dead; there would be news stories about his death but vanished and no one seems to care. Well now, if there’s a finger guaranteed to fondle my obsession trigger it’s not being able to find out something I want to know. What started as an innocent question is rapidly becoming a compulsive preoccupation. Like digging for lost keys in that duffel bag of a purse I carry around, I will turn this country upside down and shake it until I unearth what I’m looking for.

You could say we had a love/hate relationship; mostly hate, but not entirely. My boyfriend, Nathaniel, coerced me into a renting a house with Sammy, who was his best friend. He neglected to mention that, while weird on surface, Sam was an insane, tortured creature that liked to drink and cry in public. I didn’t like him but was willing to take his rent money. He struck me as a garden variety intellectual drunk; sloppy, rude, insensitive, twisting complex ideas into ugly banter – you know, the usual suspects. Sam was of Russian decent and had hair like a red tumbleweed. It was about shoulder length and totally unkempt, making it a sizable tumbleweed; like the kind that race you down the road on a windy day and then get stuck in your grill. One time ‘the weed’ got so bad he had to go to a salon to have the tangles professionally removed. I remember him wearing the same sweater vest over his bare chest and cut off sweat pants every day for like 3 years. He was on my nerves most of the time, I thought of him as a well spoken troll.

As a term of endearment, Sam and Nate called each other fag. Any given day of our life together would consist of Sam knocking on our bedroom door every five minutes. Knock knock knock “fag” knock knock “hey fag” knock knock knock knock “hey you fag” and most of these interactions would inevitably result in me having to get up and drive somewhere in the middle of the day when I was supposed to be sleeping. This happened all the time and contributed greatly to the hate factor. Sam did not have a car and was usually too drunk to drive and Nathaniel had neither driver’s license or car so you see the problem. Sam could generally be counted on to relieve the kitchen of it’s contents and to use odious quantities of toilet paper, likely the result of having devoured everything in sight and washing it down with a bottle of Jagermeister.

Should we talk about the crying? Every year at Christmas Sam would pace around the living room in a wide orbit, bottle of Jagermeister in one hand, growing progressively more delirious with each rotation and wearing a threadbare path the carpet. I accidentally interrupted this ritual once, finding him red eyed and sniffling. He told me how, when he was 12, his father dragged him out to the shed behind their house and amputated two of his own fingers with a table saw all the while screaming “Look what you made me do!” Apparently, being a mad genius comes at a price. Having no sense of personal boundaries Sam would often like to confide his torments to me while I was in the shower. I would be washing my hair in the phone booth sized cubical I had then, keeping an eye out for any of those terrifyingly huge water beetles that liked to crawl out of the drain, when the glass door would be flung open and crazy Sammy would be there in some state of panic, regaling me about his metamorphosis and seemingly indifferent to the fact that I was naked and in the middle of something. Then, there were the phone calls. Should Sam be missing from the house for more than a couple hours, something ugly was usually underway. Eventually the phone would ring and he would gurgle out his plans to walk the streets of downtown Las Vegas until God called him home; not asking me to come get him but just filling me in as a courtesy. I would, of course, get in my car and go looking for him, likely finding him urinating in an alley.

By trade Sam was a writer and an adult film director. He wrote innumerable pieces for every adult magazine there is, mostly reviews and on the set type stuff. He and Nathaniel had a dream of owning their own adult film production company. This was possibly the most disastrous idea ever. They were both alcoholics, but incompatible in their inebriated ways. Nathaniel was a lazy chicken shit; always hatching good ideas but never having the balls to execute. Sam, on the other hand, was manic depressive and would work furiously for days at a time and then short circuit and try to kill himself. With no voice of reason between them, these were not two people who should’ve been in business together and Sam did not reach his legendary status until after our relationship had ended. Sam once tried to recruit me to ghost write for him, figuring we could do twice as many jobs that way and he would pay me for my part. Having already sustained considerable personal and financial losses as a result of supporting Sam and his brilliance I was naturally leery of this idea but he was insistent so I agreed to write a short piece reviewing a scene that he had chosen for me. I really didn’t care for the scene, finding it to be awkwardly ridiculous and I described the star whore as a hapless deer in the headlights. When I handed in my assignment Sam informed me that “This is not jack off material. It’s condescending and sarcastic.” Raise your hand if this surprises you. He never asked me to write anything else.

Sam’s true gift was in script writing and film direction. When it came to conceiving of, and committing to film, lurid and savagely extreme sex scenes with profanely blasphemous overtones Crimson was second to none. This is the guy who would lash a Ted Neeley look-alike to a crucifix with Christmas lights, making him wear a barbed wire crown while bleeding profusely and receiving fellatio from a nun. A scene which would no doubt culminate in the simulated rape and anal decimation of the nun by some Roman guards while “Jesus” would passively look on and proceed to bleed out muttering “forgive them father, for they know not what they do” with his dying breath. Yes, that Samuel Crimson, in case you were wondering…

Our little company did manage to produce one little gem of a flick. For the sake of protecting the guilty I shall refer to it as our debut film. We shot for three straight days in our house and, despite near constant conflicts and impending budget shortages, we managed to get the thing edited and distributed by a major label. Our debut film was the best selling video in the country the week of it’s release, received a fully erect rating from Hustler Magazine and was nominated for an AVN award. The biz was off to a great start but then, like anything managed by two alcoholics, it crashed and burned; exploding in an apocalyptic mushroom cloud. There were no survivors.

I have a gift, or a curse, depending on how you look at it. It’s a morbid curiosity coupled with an acute intuition that compels me to understand people and to want to pick at all their scabs until I can see them better. Sam drove me fucking bat shit crazy but I was a little fascinated by him too. There were some occasions, albeit few and far between, when we would have very lucid conversations and he would predict the future. Of course, I couldn’t have gauged his accuracy then but I see now that he possessed a certain clairvoyance. For instance, he once told me that Nate wasn’t who I thought he was and that I would be better off to cut my losses and move on stating that in ten years time he would have burned out, lost his good looks and would be just be one more pathetic drunk sitting at the bar. He told me “you may think I’m just a lunatic but someday, mark my words, you’ll look back and say to yourself Crazy Sammy was right “. A few months ago, approximately ten years later, I got a phone call from Nate who is now unemployed, renting a trailer in Pahrump and calling me from his neighbor’s house because he has neither phone or computer by which to communicate. It seems his unemployment benefits had run out and would not be reinstated for two weeks. He was flat broke and could not pay his rent or buy food for himself or his dog. He needed $200. This was a very depressing phone call because I had hoped that he would have gotten his shit together. The only other time I had heard from him in the last ten years was about 5 years ago when he sent me an email saying that he urgently needed to talk to me because he thought God was punishing him for the way he had treated me. I assured him that, though he was probably right, I had not petitioned God to torment him and could therefore not call off the dogs. Crazy Sammy was right.

My involvement with the films was mostly administrative but there was one night when I crossed the line to the other side of the camera. Nate was sleeping and I was having a rare pleasant evening hanging with Sam during which I agreed to let him shoot me in a solo scene with a double headed dildo. We shot in the living room for at least an hour and, to be honest, it was not unpleasant. He was very cool and focused, directing the scene with a calm detachment and occasionally offering some pointers to ramp up the drama We had a great time. Sadly, or probably fortunately, that footage never made it into an actual movie. Some time later I discovered that he was keeping it as his personal jack off material, and since things weren’t going well at that point, I destroyed the tape.

On another occasion I had just returned to Vegas after an eight week hiatus to Magdelena. Nate was at work and Sam and I were in the kitchen having a rousing conversation. Sam, with shenanigans in his eyes, wanted to know if I had been on any dates while I was away. It goes without saying that I had been with Dean but Sam didn’t need to know that so I just said that I had spent most of my time hanging out with my friends. I could see he didn’t believe me but I stuck to my story, knowing that, at any moment, lucid Sammy could turn into crazy Sammy and would almost certainly repeat anything I told him to his “brother” Nathaniel. We talked for hours about all kinds of things including the boxes of weird shit that my dad would send about once a month. I had been away and Sam had missed the care packages. My dad will gestate an idea and then hold on to it with fierce, but irrational, determination. For instance, I must have been sick once, maybe when I was 13, and required some cough drops. That meant that every month for the next 12 years my dad would send a care package containing, among other things, two or three huge bags off Halls Cough Drops which are, in my opinion, one of the most vile things one could put in their mouth. We had one of those big utility drawers in the kitchen that was quite literally over flowing with Halls Cough Drops. Sam thought this was wildly entertaining. He asked me “why don’t you just tell your dad that you have enough cough drops?” I said “if he can’t see that for himself, me telling him is not going to make any difference. I mean why would he even think that I need this many cough drops in the first place?” We laughed hysterically as Sam reenacted the scene of my dad packing the box contemplating “hmmm, I wonder what my little miss needs this month? I know… cough drops!”

As it turns out my return marked the beginning of the end. Conflict in the house reached new heights with Nathaniel and Sam fighting constantly and, with both of them trying to put me in the middle, I wanted nothing to do with either of them. One day after a big fight I was sitting on my bed when Sam let himself into my room and told me he was going to be doing most of his work in L.A. from now on. He asked me what I wanted out of the whole mess and I said ” I want my life to stop revolving around whatever you and Nate are fighting about. I don’t care about porn and I want to pursue something that is important to me. When is someone going to give a fuck about me, Sam?!?! That’s what I want to know!” I spit these words out in the most bitter tone I could muster. He closed the door. It was our last conversation.


I painted my nails this morning; something totally out of character and a likely sign of the apocalypse. You should probably stock up on your food rations. I have an aversion to nails; mine, yours and everyone else’s. They seem like an evolutionary mistake. My typical manicure consists of cutting my nails down to the quick and when they start to grow back cutting them again, ensuring that they will never protrude past the ends of my fingers and, god forbid, bend while I’m washing my hair. The thought of bending finger nails sends me straight to the fetal position, clenched hands covering my face. The fact that some women waste countless hours of their lives sitting in a salon while actually paying someone to make their nails longer is completely beyond my comprehension. I can’t be reasoned with; no nails, no bending, simple as that. Today I decided to add nail polish to my nubs in an attempt to make them look happier. While waiting for the sparkly purple polish to dry I’ve been carrying on a conversation via text message with Dean. He’s been away, I’ve been missing him. In between messages I’m treating myself to some tales of Christmas dementia by David Sedaris. I love that there is a review on the back of Holidays On Ice that reads “not remotely politically correct or heart warming”. See there, we are twinsies.

It is Saturday morning and it’s one of those unusual Saturday’s when I don’t have to work. On days like this I like to sit on my bed drinking coffee and enjoy being left alone in my private little world of books and text messages. Therefore I find it jarring and irritating when I accidentally look at my inbox and see an email from an associate with a subject line that reads “did you get my last email???” Yeah, I think to myself, I fucking got it, I just didn’t read it because the unsolicited advice you hammered me with during our last meeting at your day care center, when you made me sit with your children on miniature plastic chairs and eat fucking tepid cheese pizza from Costco while you and your business partner rambled on like lunatic shut ins, made me think you’ve been blasting the Freedom Rock and getting high in your basement for the last three years. It was a confidence shaker, I gotta say. I know you didn’t mean to insult me by inviting me to lunch and then ambushing me with this daycare charade but suggesting that I should change the name of my business to something “more obvious” is pushing it and assuming that little carrots and a juice box were a fine supplement to the cold pizza entree is really testing the limits of my benefit of the doubt . The crown jewel though was when you got all huffy saying that you were so sick of business owners (such as myself say for instance) complaining that we cannot do your silly little trade shows on Saturdays because we have the audacity to be conducting real business on that particular day of the week. Haughty words from a woman holding a juice box.

There is always a point during my day off when I realize that I’ve drank 5 cups of coffee, eaten nothing and it’s well past noon. The sun is shining on the world and life is happening out there while I am doing nothing in here. Anxiety creeps in, reminding me of all the things I should be doing coupled with a resentment that I can’t even enjoy one day off without this mind fuck coming along and raining on my parade. Can’t I just relax? Aren’t I entitled to not see belligerent subject lines in my inbox, can’t their problems wait till Monday? I’m gonna go re-teach myself to play guitar until I forget that I ought to be doing something more important.

Whose Hair Is That?

I was sitting on the toilet at Motel 6; going pee and wondering whose hair is that? There, stuck to the wall, right in front of my face; whose. hair. is.
THAT? Gross. Oh look, there’s another one stuck to the door. Normally this would be a rhetorical question because my own hair is always stuck to everything but I just got there so it can’t be mine. I was, of course, waiting for Dean. We’ve been coming to this same Motel 6 for about 8 months now and I’m pretty sure we’ve stayed in every room. More often than not there is something amiss: wet soap in the tub, hair tangled up in the bath towels, Dean pulling the towel rack right out the of the wall because it wasn’t attached, the room phone ringing incessantly, dysfunctional wall lamps and space heaters but I know I can always count on the housekeeper to fold the toilet paper over into a little point because this is, after all, a respectable establishment. The ladies at the front desk must either have me pegged for an exceptionally well spoken hooker or else they’re on to me. I mean no one stays at a motel in the same city they live in this frequently. Right? To wit, if I were one of them, I would be curious about this women who checks in roughly once a week with has a local driver’s license, always pays with cash, says please and thank you and is long gone before check out at 11:00. Seriously, I would send a housekeeper to watch the room and see what else transpired and we would have an ongoing bet as to the various possible scenarios which, naturally, I would win because my mind is predisposed to conjuring evil theories.

I always arrive first so this gives me an opportunity to get caught up on my reading before Dean shows up. Lately I’ve been enjoying some selected works
by David Sedaris. I feel a kinship with him and the dead pan style of his self effacing narrative. If I were a gay man, we would be twinsies. He, like me, is
one of those people who, lucky for us, is really skilled at one thing, two at the most, and otherwise inept at living like a responsible adult. We both need baby sitters because we can’t cook, clean, organize, fix things, figure out what to wear, open the mail, navigate the road or deal with the public at large yet we are both the primary breadwinner in our household and, of course, we both like men. There is one major difference though and that is our views regarding monogamy. David is a homebody; remaining faithful to Hugh, not only because he fears group sex, AIDS and nipple rings but also because he thinks more than one man is just too much trouble. By comparison, I’ve rarely been without more than one man; Dean usually being one of them. I just imagine David reading my blog, holding on to the sins he hasn’t yet committed and jotting down conversation topics to bring up over dinner the next time Hugh drags him out to a restaurant; “I read the most bothersome blog today. The author is a long winded paranoiac who thinks we’re twinsies.”

As I’m writing this, I notice that my hair still smells like Dean, chances are the inside of my knees do too. I also hear his voice “who the fuck are you DATING???” That’s him, mocking me in his endearing way for spontaneously hammering him with this question; pointing out the obvious inconsistency he inferred from my tone, but that’s not exactly what I said. Ok, it kind of is, but I wasn’t indignant about it, well maybe just a little. Yes, it’s true that I
don’t view hypocrisy as a handicap and if that makes me a good ole’ boy then so be it, go fetch me a cigar. Some people are just born with certain things. Eddie Van Halen was born with the name of a band and I was born with the fragile heart of a hypocrite. What I really meant was is this going to be a problem? More than once in the recent past I have written about things that have coincidentally and magically transpired, like, the next day. So I had just posted that Ernesto story to the blog when, let’s just say, there was a disturbance on my radar. Naturally, being a paranoid, self indulgent type, I thought to myself “there is no fucking way I’m going to relive this story that I just wrote!” Yep, that’s exactly what I thought, that the wind changes direction based on my musings. Well doesn’t it? Dean, to his credit, thought this was funny and suggested that “out of sensitivity to the married woman that I’m banging, I shall refrain from making reference to my other social interactions.” That’s why I love him; he’s the only person I know capable of being both thoughtful and sarcastic simultaneously. A little later, while trying to save face, like I hadn’t just gone a little bit fucknutz crazy and had a thinly masked paranoid break, I said “for the record, I don’t care as long as we’re cool.” To which he replied ” Why wouldn’t we be cool? I’m always cool, you’re the one who disappears and shit. I’m consistent.” Admittedly, that did make me feel better though I was loath to say it at the time as that would mean admitting he was right.


On Sunday Carl and I drove 587 miles through the desert, to the world famous Sin City, for a convention. I had booked us in a $30/night room at Terrible’s Casino, but decided at the last minute to ditch that in favor of staying with my friends, Ernesto and Carmen. This is more of loaded of a gun than it’s benign description would imply. For one thing I have a dare from Dean to stir up some shenanigans with Ernesto just because he wants to see if I “have the necessary skills to pull it off” and by that he means can I find a way to fuck Ernesto, for old time’s sake and without getting caught, while staying at his house with both our spouses. Dean is my soul mate and is mischievous to the core. For another thing, Carl doesn’t know the half of it when it comes to my history with these two but don’t you worry now, Ernesto spontaneously decided to fill him in thus blowing my cover, setting off my warning signals and causing me to abort the dare. Sorry Dean.

We had been there less than two hours, all four of us sitting on the back porch having a smoke when Ernesto decides to stand up and address Carl, like he’s giving a toast. He says “Well Carl, I want you to know that I’m so glad she (me) has found someone to spend her life with. I don’t know if you knew this or not but it was almost me. I just felt that she was too young (like he’s apologizing to me or something) and that I was already a man, set in my ways.” You could’ve heard a pin drop just then as all eyes were calmly fixed on Ernesto although each masking a distinctly different reaction. As far as I can tell, neither Carmen or Carl are seeing the humor in Ernesto’s little soliloquy. My personal thoughts were somewhere between “shut the fuck up” and “what do you mean, it was almost you?” I was not aware that he was almost anything. He never asked me to move in, we were never engaged. To the contrary, he sanctimoniously dumped me for Carmen. I don’t know how that translates into almost spending his life with me but here’s the Reader’s Digest version of the back story.

When I was 13 I took guitar lessons from Ernesto, then age 26 and recent graduate from the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. He was a great teacher and displayed a genuine interest in my musical education. I studied with Ernesto for just over a year and was very sad when he decided to move to Las Vegas to further pursue his career.

Fast forward 5 years; I was 18 and just graduated from high school. I decided to do some sleuthing and uncover the whereabouts of my long lost buddy. During this time my girlfriends and I would issue various challenges to one another like how many guys can you fuck that have the same name or the same birthday, stupid shit like that. Dean and Ernesto have the same birthday although about 8 years apart so I was like “watch and learn, ladies.” Through a friend of a friend of an acquaintance I found what I was looking for and made contact; suggesting that if he was gonna be in town anytime soon that we should do lunch. I’m not not sure why he assumed that “do lunch” implied spending 3 hours at the Econolodge on East Main Street but that actually is what I meant and is also what happened. We spent two or three nights in a row like that and shortly thereafter I started traveling to Vegas to see him. He convinced me that I should transfer to UNLV which did have a better music program than the one I had currently been enrolled in.

At first we hung out a lot. I spent many a late night on the road to his place in Levi Valley and many a groggy early morning commuting back to town in time for 7:30am orchestra rehearsal. I always hated playing with the orchestra, but that’s another story. Everything seemed copacetic until the day he met Carmen. She was a cocktail waitress at the casino where Ernesto’s band happened to be playing. He tells me how he’s started dating this woman and how awesomely awesome she is and how he wants to marry her, etc., etc., etc. I mean he really doesn’t know when to quit here and just goes on and on about his virtuous relationship with Carmen. I won’t lie, I was pissed off and hurt. I knew he saw other women but they never affected our relationship so I didn’t care. This, on the other hand, was a problem. He never told me he was actively searching for a wife and then he just lays the whole thing on me like it’s no big deal, like I should say “oh ok”. To further add insult to injury one night he tells me “you’re a little girl, and Carmen is a woman.” After having just wrote that, I don’t even know why there’s anything more to this story. The only correct response to that caliber of insult is “fuck you” but apparently he was right because that’s not what I said.

For several weeks I refused to meet or have anything to do with Carmen but he finally wore me down and I agreed to meet her. They stop by my condo one evening and, you have to understand that I’ve been told, point blank, that I’m out gunned so I’m expecting Ms. America to show up. When the door bell rang and Ernesto said “This is Carmen” I was silent for a moment, looking past the, obviously white trash, bar maid at his side for the real Carmen who I figured must have been standing on the side walk behind her. I didn’t know what to say besides “surely you don’t mean her?!?!” but I couldn’t say that so I just said “hi”.

Now here is where the tale really starts to get confusing. Ernesto still calls me every five minutes, wants me to hang out at his place all the time, even stay the night when Carmen has to work graveyard and still be his best friend, only now it’s his platonic best friend and he expects I should be cool with that; like being demoted from girlfriend to little sister is equitable. I mean, if I was into that kind of low return on investment vibe, I could keep exotic birds or be friends with a girl. Anyway, he and Carmen have apocalyptic arguments almost daily which, admittedly, provide some entertainment value for me but I am at a loss to understand what is happening. Perhaps, if regarded from a safe distance, the method to the madness would’ve revealed itself but when viewed from the immediate vicinity, the finer points lay in disarray, proving difficult to see in context. All she’s got on me is height and age and it seems like they hate each other so what the fuck? She is also the single mother of an intolerable brat named Jeremy who is 5 years old and the biggest pain in the ass I’ve ever met. One night when she actually packed her shit and left after a fight Ernesto says to me “You know what? Carmen just isn’t the same quality of person as we are.” and I was like “thank god, the voice of reason.” She was back the next fucking day though. So much for the voice of reason.

As time went on I began to form the opinion that it was better her than me. Granted, she was no where near his intellectual equal but he would antagonize her to the point that she had no choice but to fight back. That is one quality about Ernesto that I cannot stand; he is such an antagonist, never knowing when to stop making his point. I fucking hate that. He may see it as just kidding around but I see it as insulting. It is a sure fire way to get rid of me and he had ramped up his normal levels of antagonistic behavior about 500% with Carmen so it was no fucking wonder the poor girl, pardon me –woman would get so mad that she would cry and throw shit at him.

As his friend, I valiantly tried to dissuade Ernesto from continuing on in what was clearly a fuck-all of a mess. I exhausted every line of reasoning I could think of but my efforts were plainly futile because his response was to buy me a purple bride’s maid dress to wear in their wedding. Just when I thought this shit couldn’t get any weirder, now I’m the Maid Of Honor in their wedding! Fucking terrific. A couple months later we all fly back home to Magdalena for a double wedding ceremony in the gazebo right in the middle of the town square. Ernesto’s sister was also getting married and for some reason they thought it would be amazing to have not one, but two weddings at what I would, years later and under different circumstances, come to regard as the worst possible place in the entire city for a wedding.

The day of the wedding was not a good day for me but I did my best to suit up and pin on my game face. I don’t remember much about the ceremony, just that we all rode from the hotel to the gazebo in a horse drawn carriage. This is what I do remember; after the ceremony, right in front of everyone, Ernesto grabs me in an embrace that is restricting my air flow and he is sobbing. Not like happy tears of joy, like broken-hearted sobs and, while his tears are smearing my makeup, he blubbers “I love you” into my neck several times. This is the crown jewel fucking cake topper of weirdness. I don’t know how to react and just stand there like a pillar of salt. Carmen is watching.

About a month after the wedding I flew back home again to see Dean on his birthday. Coincidentally, he was recently married as well but that didn’t stop us from having a spirited reunion on the floor of his new in-law’s basement. Later that evening, while watching his band play at Hooters, his future ex-wife eyed me suspiciously while I calmly smoked a cigarette and chatted with my friends, feeling that once again things were more or less right with the world. About a week later I was taking a little ride in the car with Carmen. She asked me about my trip so I told her, you know just a little girl talk between women who don’t actually like each other. Granted, my main reason for telling her was just to make her uncomfortable and I guess it worked because I find out the next day, upon receiving an angry phone call, that she repeated the whole thing to Ernesto who actually had the balls to confront me saying “How could you?!?!” like I had betrayed him and to accuse me of being immoral or some nonsense. I was like “Aww, c’mon now. Is it your first day?” He suggested I start going to church with them.

Not too long after that I decided that enough is enough already, I just can’t hang with the Ernesto and Carmen freak show anymore so I disappear like a rabbit into a magician’s hat and don’t surface again for 15 years when, two years ago, I found Ernesto on facebook. Surprisingly, or not, he was still married to Carmen. I saw them then but just for the evening and I wasn’t looking to rekindle anything. I wasn’t there five minutes when out comes the wedding album and Ernesto says to me, in front of Carmen, “I was talking to my dad after the wedding and he said ‘I told you you should’ve married the pretty girl in the purple dress’.”

I honestly don’t know what Ernesto wants from me.

Even Kerouac Could Publish A Book

When I was 14 I was what some would consider a victim, though I beg to differ, in an incestuous yet consensual affair with my cousin who is 9 years older than me. If anyone was a victim, it was most certainly him because, while he was apparently drunk on the perfume of my blossoming young womanhood and found my shy smile and weird essays to be beguiling, I was a sweet cup of Pennyroyal Tea, even then.

My cousin lived on the east coast but would make frequent trips to La Luz to visit our aunt and uncle. Coincidentally I would go to La Luz to visit him. We got along famously in those days. He treated me like an adult, let me smoke his Camel Lights, took me on weird adventures and turned me on to cool authors like Jack Kerouac. When we were apart he would write long, spontaneous letters on paper bags and the backs of receipts, sometimes he would just send pages from his journal. I thought he was really cool. Let’s talk about Jack Kerouac.

Jack Kerouac was a literary iconoclast, the voice of the beat generation. His unedited, drug addled, rambling nonsense inspired generations of young free thinkers to travel the country by rail car composing handwritten novels on rolls of commercial grade paper toweling. Let’s face it; Kerouac is crooked and writes like a lunatic but when I was 14 now, let me tell ya, I thought he was really onto something. This explains a lot.

My cousin attended Oberlin College. Yes, the world renowned, ivy league, outrageously expensive, Oberlin College and his trip was funded entirely by the mommy and daddy scholarship. I, by comparison, learned most of what I needed to know in community college and I paid for that shit myself while working full time.

This little fling went on for a year or so and I became very adept at exploiting every type of family trust that there is. Of course everyone could see we were buddies but no one suspected anything unholy was occurring because we were related after all. Eventually though, like so many well intentioned, yet perverse, endeavors this too came to an end. My cousin decided to spend 6 months studying in London so off he goes. He still keeps in touch but not as much and obviously we’re not seeing each other. Upon returning from his 6 month fuck around hiatus, no sorry, studying – he was studying, he meets an Indian woman named Amrita. She was pure evil incarnate but as he seems to be turned on by that he went ahead and knocked her up and then they got married. Now granted, I had a boyfriend too but, making no attempt to hide my hypocrisy, I didn’t much see the humor in that.

So you might assume that the recently wed to the devil, new father, and recent graduate from Oberlin College would have some motivation to take care of his family and get something fancy, like a job. Just a job – any job…pumping gas is a job. You would assume wrong. Nope, he is not any kind of provider, or man of the house, by any stretch of the imagination. To the contrary I think he would sleep in his car most nights during the summer. It doesn’t take Amrita long to start loathing him but they carry on in mutual contempt for like 6 years until one day when I was 19 and living in Boulder City, my cousin, in an inconceivable act of fucktardation tells her about us, like everything about us, and seals his fate in my eyes forever. Amrita calls my aunt and fills her in. My aunt, who was living with my mother at the time, in turn calls me and says that if I don’t tell my mom then she will. I am shocked. This shit had been over nearly 5 years and now he throws me under the bus and leaves me there to manage the fall out between my mother and her sister whose son would be the cousin in question and all the while he is sleeping in his god damned 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco in motherfucking Bonanza, AR where he just can’t be bothered to answer his phone that his parents still pay for. I had to fly back home to straighten this shit out and that included sending my mom to a psychic medium to convince her that I was not molested in the traditional sense of the word. Not much of an option for my mom, really. She could either let her mommy hormones override reason and think of me as a victimized little girl OR she could sack up and admit that she may have hatched a demon spawn who was the mastermind behind the aforementioned “situation.” In any case, hell hath no fury like a betrayed Scorpio, and I spent the next ten years repaying him in spades for that indiscretion.

Jack Kerouac wasn’t much of a family man either. Child rearin’ wasn’t his thing and his resume had some unaccounted for time on it. He was a free spirit; traveling constantly, never putting down stakes, always doing exactly what he wanted to do, exactly when he wanted to do it. If there was something Kerouac had a handle on, it was discretionary time and he took full advantage of his days with no regard whatsoever for what the future may hold as a consequence of his cavalier lifestyle, or so it would seem. As it turned out Kerouac didn’t need to figure out how to deal with middle age because the booze got the best of him resulting in his demise at the age of 47. Somehow though, in the midst of all this free-wheelin’ jazz lifestyle he managed to publish a shit load of books that did, in fact, provide him with income and transform him into an American legend. Someway, somehow, ole’ Jack found the discipline to write books and get them published even while being incessantly intoxicated.

My cousin didn’t have a job when I was 14; he was divorced, still unemployed, and sleeping in his car when I was 19, and now I’m pretty sure he lives in a 5th wheel trailer that has been colonized by feral cats and is parked on some generous friend’s land in Bonanza. Employment comes in the way of handyman type jobs that pop up about once every three months. His parents still pay his phone bill just so he will have a phone and I bet they’d like a refund of their investment in his ivy league education. I think he does a little organic farming if you know what I mean, and you know what? It is the do-nothing drug.

I’m not gonna judge him. If he wants to piss his life away living like a middle class bum, then be it far from me to say otherwise. What I will say, however, is that he might coulda clued his parents in to his intentions before they invested a healthy six figures in his schooling and I think he should stop imposing his lifestyle on the heartstrings of people whom he knows won’t let him starve. I’ve got no explanation for the spectacular failure to launch that was my first lover but all I’m sayin’ is; even Kerouac could publish a book.

Motel 6

I’m a regular at Motel 6. My dad likes to go there, too.

I’ve spent years scrutinizing my dad, looking for any sign that we are the same species of creature. To date, there is little evidence except our shared affinity for seedy motels. When I go to Motel 6 I park in the back because I don’t want my husband – or anyone else for that matter – to catch me fucking the guy who, coincidentally, is my mentor in all things considered socially taboo and just plain wicked… While I’m there I coerce the girls at the front desk into admitting that they steal towels and get told stuff like “you know when check out is…” When my dad goes to Motel 6 he makes a thermos of instant coffee with hot water from the sink. No, we’re not hardly the same kind of creature.

My dad’s not a bad person but he’s got damaged goods. He fancies himself to be a highway man, traveling the country as a character in a Tom Waits song, eating in truck stops and making small talk with guys named Big Joe. The problem is that Big Joe has no idea what they’re talking about because my dad speaks in riddles. If my dad asks you a question/statement and you don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about, the answer is most likely one of the following things: Ford Motor Company, Michigan State University, or if the riddle contained the reference “smokey bear” then it’s about the police. Once, when my dad was visiting me in Boulder City, we somehow got shafted into going to some time share interview bullshit so’s that we could get free tickets to see Splash at The Riviera. During the interview I kept my sunglasses on in hopes that if I ever ran into the interviewer again she would not recognize me. The poor lady asked my dad if he had flown in to Vegas, he said “no” and so she asked “well then, how did you get here?” He tells her the turn for turn driving directions all the way from Bowling Green, OH. She gave him the praying mantis stare and I pushed my sunglasses further up my nose to better conceal my identity.

My dad’s wife’s name is Deborah. I call her “Pissed Off Deb” cause she’s always pissed off, plus she apparently has Tourette’s. She will say any ole’ rude shit that pops into her little midwestern head. Not that I entirely blame her. My dad, he’s an irritating guy. Every couple of months he decides to pack up the car and take the poor, reluctant, Pissed Off Deb on a road trip across the United States which will no doubt include stays at Motel 6, thermoses of bathroom sink water instant coffee and awkward riddle ridden dinners at truck stops. His other hobby is taking pictures of Pissed Off Deb in front of iconic national treasures and then sending them to me. I have pictures of Pissed Off Deb in front of Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls and the Lincoln Memorial.

On another memorable occasion I was visiting my dad at my grandpa’s place in El Rito. I’m not sure where Pissed Off Deb was but I think she begged off and stayed at home for this hurrah. My grandpa’s accountant had alerted my dad to the fact that my grandpa was losing his grip on reality and that if he didn’t take immediate action, the state was gonna step in and seize the assets we were all counting on inheriting. My dad jumps on a plane and calls me up to inform me that my that my plans for the weekend have been replaced with mission Save The Family Fortune. I drop my plans for drinking jager and writing pointless shit and drive my ass to El Rito. When I get there my dad is talking a blue streak and I am left speechless and staring just trying to solve the riddles fast enough to keep up. One minute he’s talking about a lazy union janitor at Ford Motor Company and the next he’s saying “when mom died, everyone was consoling pops, but she was my mom too”. That made me sad but my empathy is trumped by the need to suppress my gag reflex because while he’s regaling me with this hours long monologue he is also slurping Psyllium fiber mixed with not enough water from a coffee cup and it has congealed into a wildly disgusting gelatinous slop that is dripping from his mouth back into the cup every time he takes a swig. The next day I was in my room, having just got out of the shower and sitting on the floor in front of my suitcase. I was naked and looking for clothes when my dad just walks right in, doesn’t knock or anything. We were both mortified, and in keeping with family tradition this instance was never to be spoken of again. Later that day I drove my dad to Wal-Mart to buy silk flowers to put on on my grandmother’s grave. At the cemetery transpires the weirdest shit, ever. Ever.

We’re at the cemetery observing all the family grave sites. I see the headstone of my dad’s brother, Harold, and note that there are fresh flowers in the flower cup. My dad, tipped off by the flowers, starts to sarcastically speculate that Harry is conducting an affair with the living from beyond the grave. He always loathed his brother. I am feeling brave so I say “didn’t Harry die of some kind overdose?” and my dad replies “somethin’ like that.” No remorse, no emotion, no nothing, just “somethin’ like that”. Maybe now would be a good time to bring up the fact that, when he was a young man, my dad was the primary suspect in a murder investigation involving the deaths of three of his family members. A couple years later Harry was found dead in his car having overdosed on a prescription epilepsy medicine that no one knew he was taking.

We locate my grandmother’s headstone and deposit the silk flowers from Wal-Mart. While we’re doing this my dad starts to tell me that he has a pre-paid plot in this cemetery but doesn’t want to use it because he intends to be buried in Ohio next to Pissed Off Deb. For some reason this issue has grown to be a point of contention between he and my grandpa. My dad tells me that he would concede to my grandpa’s wishes and be buried in this cemetery only if my grandpa agrees to pay the shipping charges associated with transporting a corpse across state lines. Then he tells me that I should write a song, because he thinks I’m a musician, about a funny scenario that could unfold upon his death and playing upon the fact that both my grandpa and Pissed Off Deb hate to spend money. The song, he tells me, should tell the story of how, after he dies, Deb will send his body C.O.D. to El Rito and my grandpa, being just as big of a cheap skate, will refuse the charges thus sending him back to Ohio where Pissed Off Deb will also refuse the shipment and this will go on indefinitely leaving his body traveling the highways of America in a big black hearse with shiny black windows for all eternity.

I imagine one day I’ll meet up with my dad at the great Motel 6 in the sky. Reckon he’ll leave the light on for me.