Thursday, December 25, 2008

Boxing Day without Josh: A Time-Honored Tradition

As anyone who has ever owned a wall calendar knows, today is Boxing Day. This venerable holiday is near and dear to the heart of this blog's proprietor/protagonist. However, since 2006, Josh Grimmer has not partaken in any formal recognition of Boxing Day. We here at mousebed decided that today should be no different. And let's face it, who do you want discussing this holiday with you: Josh, or someone with a rich Canadian heritage? That's what we thought too. It's good to have a different perspective once in a while -- this is most definitely the only post ever written while the author was listening to country Christmas carols. Below is contributor John Cabral's second foray into the world of brutal honesty, gallows humor, and sad girl stories. But stop your fretting in California and Japan: It's still all about Josh.

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Each and every year on the morning of December 26th, I go to Persy's Place in Hyannis for breakfast with some of my closest friends. My meal always involves linguica or chourico, and cornbread. Why do I do these things?

It's part of the ritual.

If our annual Boxing Day tradition had a motto, that would be it. To understand the festivities established by founding fathers Will Bussiere, Josh Grimmer, and John Cabral, one must first understand the genesis of that saying.

When I was a senior in high school in 2003, I began spending absurdly large amounts of time in the Bussiere household. At the time, Will and his father had a running joke. Any time a trivial decision or behavior was called into question by Will's mother, Will's response would be "It's part of the ritual." The answer never made any real sense, nor was it ever intended to. It was simply a joke intended to bug his mother (highly effective).

I enjoyed this saying so much that I decided to start running with it myself. Will and I spent the remainder of our high school careers coming up with odd "rituals" involving things like sunflower seeds, Madden, Nantucket Nectars, Red Sox games, and being deathly afraid of finding prom dates. But here's the key thing to remember: once something was "part of the ritual," it was, in fact, part of the ritual. If you bought pizza flavored Combos before last Friday night's Sox game and they won, then you were doing it again this Friday - no questions asked. That's the way it was and you liked it! You loved it!

Fast forward to Thanksgiving night of my freshman year of college. I was home from UMass Dartmouth. Will was home from Providence College. Neither of these things were unusual; we were both home from college way, way too damn much that first year. But one thing was highly unusual: Josh was home from Bridgewater. In order to fully comprehend this post, my benevolent reader, you need to know one crucial piece of information: Josh hates spending time with his family. Come 7 PM, he felt the way I imagine many vegans feel on Thanksgiving night, and pleaded with Will and I to get him out of his house. What's open to 18 year olds on Thanksgiving on Cape Cod, you ask? The Pool Hall in South Yarmouth, that's what. We went and played pool - I even taught my less-cultured friends to play pills. And you know what? After that night, it was part of the ritual. The three of us went to the Pool Hall on Thanksgiving night every year until that Josh moved out to LA for a bunch of bullshit reasons like quality of life, love, living wage, happiness, and warmth. Way to ruin my fun, jackass.

Come Christmastime, our collective, newfound penchant for seat of our pants "traditions" held true. Today marks the Sixth Annual Boxing Day Breakfast at Persy's Place in Hyannis. The Breakfast is a synthesis of the quirks of Will and Josh; I was literally along for the ride when this began.

Will loves obscure holidays. There are three phrases I can guarantee you that guy has never said once in his life: "December 26th," "July 14th," and "June 17th." (The first person to post the name of each holiday in the comments will be the first-ever mousebed Reader of the Week. See? It's another example of a tradition we made up on the spot - the very theme of this post!)

Josh, on the other hand, apparently hates Christmas. You may recall him saying that he used to be "completely goddamn insufferable." At Christmastime, he was most certainly correct. There was once a time where you simply could not get this guy to say "Merry Christmas." Even the most earnest and heartfelt yuletide blessings offered to Josh would earn you the following snarky, wiseassed response: "And a Happy Jews Go to the Movies Day to you too!" Now, he probably still says this today, but at least now he's (probably) joking. Back in 2003, he appeared to be legitimately frosted by the notion that other people were experiencing any sort of seasonal joy while he was stuck in the Grimmer Estate for his first lengthy break from college.

Finally, there was one key element that has gone unexamined: for Christmas in 2003, Josh, Will, and I were all bombarded with gift cards redeemable at the Cape Cod Mall. Personally, I was pleased with this, as it offered me the opportunity to control what my gift would be: Madden 2004 for my shiny new Nintendo Gamecube. Josh, on the other hand, offered the following holiday cheer: "I haven't shaved in a week because I don't have any goddamn money for razor blades. I asked for some in my stocking, but (*whips out tag-shaped Best Buy card*) I guess I'll just have to shave with some of these gift cards (*gestures with card under neck as if shaving*)."

What do you get when you mix one guy who loves obscure holidays, one guy who hates Christmas so much he won't even call it by name, and three guys with an abnormal interest in getting up early to go shopping? You guessed it: The First Annual Boxing Day Breakfast at Persy's Place in Hyannis.

For the sake of recorded history, here are some tidbits from Boxing Days past:

  • In 2003, after breakfast and our gift card redemption spree, we retreated to the Grimmer Estate to play all the video games we had just bought, beginning with NBA Street 2. For those of you who have never had the pleasure, NBA Street is NBA Jam, except outdoors, plus players on steroids, minus rules, plus a background voice constantly pleading with you to box out. Now, I suck at most video games made after 1998 - you just don't top defeating Ganondorf and Lord Ganon consecutively to reunite the Triforce. At the time, however, I was in denial of this fact, and liked to blame the games and systems for my struggles. After Josh stuffed one of my shots, I said something like "AND THAT'S NOT A GOALTEND?!?" Josh and Will waited for me to pipe down, and then simultaneously laughed their asses off. It was probably the hardest the two of them have ever laughed at anything I've said, which would've been good if I wasn't 100% serious at the time. To this day, I maintain that the ball was above the cylinder and on its way down. I'm also available New Year's Eve.
  • In 2005, the three of us attempted to transform the successful breakfast into a daylong extravaganza because we wanted to pay proper reverence to the final installment of ABC'S Monday Night Football that night. The three of us actually went out to eat three separate times. Late in the afternoon, we all got sick of each other and wanted to take naps. Although the game was eventually fun, we all agreed that the daylong Boxing Day idea was best left as a one time experiment. This was also the first time we expanded the breakfast; Will's sister Ann came along with us.
  • In 2006, Josh was in LA, leaving only Will and I. It kinda sucked. We later called him to tell him as much. However, by pure coincidence, Adam Jurczyk also happened to be at Persy's that morning. When he was done eating, he joined us. He became part of the ritual.
  • Last year, invitations were extended to both Adam Jurczyk and Bryan Geiler. They both attended, and walk-in extrordinaire Aaron Ristino was warmly welcomed. It's a good thing those three showed up, because I had to leave early to go to work. I'm over it. Almost.
The breakfast will probably be over by the time you read this, but I sit in hope at press time. Will, Bryan, Adam, and I will be there. I'm not sure the four of us have been together for anything since last Boxing Day. I have to leave early again, but at least this time it will be to collect money, rather than to have to earn it.

If you live in the Hyannis area, and would like to attend a future Boxing Day Breakfast, we invite you to make a case for your worthiness in the comments. After all, Josh's seat will be available. If you come to the breakfast once, you'll always be welcome in the future. It's part of the ritual.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball

Note: I am sick for the second consecutive week. I am taking this week half off and only giving the Mousebed reading public 750 or so words. Next week you can expect a much better entry, because it won’t be written by me. Sorry.

I failed out of college. I’m not proud; it’s just something that happened. I stopped going to classes so Bridgewater State College decided to not have me give them any more money. Have it your way, you ivory tower eggheads. I was more than willing to pay your salary to sit around, getting high and drinking shitty beer. Joke’s on you, man. The main reason I failed out of school – as well as the source of any enjoyment I had at college – was the fine brothers and sisters of Phi Pi Delta. Delta was sort of the outcast fraternity. We accepted people from all walks of life, which isn’t really standard operating procedure for frats. First of all, we were co-ed. Our membership was predominantly homosexual, we had both black and white members, and we were damn proud of our differences. We also prided ourselves on having the most rigorous pledge process.

During pledging, every fraternity’s pledges had to choreograph and perform a routine to a song that best described our pledging experience. Our class decided that we didn’t have to do any sort of prep until the last minute, a trait I have exhibited my entire life. By the way, this is being written ten minutes before midnight on Thursday, and I’m sure it shows. The night before the show, the four of us – myself and three girls, by the way – sat down and decided it was high time we figured out what song we were going to be doing. The obvious choice was anything by Queen: the flamboyance and bombast of Freddy Mercury certainly captured the vibe of Delta. After a little discussion, we settled on Don’t Stop Me Now, a song about “making a supersonic man” out of the listener. This was undoubtedly the song we needed. We quickly worked out a few steps and moved on to costumes. Being the only guy in the group, it was natural that I was selected to be our Freddy. We took an old pair of my roommate’s jeans and cut the legs off of them. They became less than short shorts, they became booty-cutters. I looked like a fat white Beyonce in them. The shorts completed an already ludicrous outfit of a wife beater, slicked back hair and a fake moustache made of felt and stuck to my face with actual, factual glue.

The night of the show, I donned my costume, and with some help from a trusted friend taped my shorts in such a way that my scrotum was securely in place. Every fraternity and sorority showed up to this event; there were easily 250 people in the room at the start of the night. Our pledge class was to go up last, so we got to watch everyone else get up and make total asses of themselves on account of their lack of preparation. My pledge sisters and I confidently nodded our heads backstage, indicating that we had this in the bag. We strode onstage, ignoring the giggles regarding my costume. The music started and we started dancing our asses off, spinning, gyrating and undulating in time with the beat and in sync with each other. There were kicks, jazz hands, and many other moves made popular by the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers. Near the end of the song, I took center stage and got the biggest applause of the night. When we went backstage, I found out that my pants had been stolen by my roommate and one of his friends, leaving me to run around with my ass hanging out on an October night in Massachusetts. Fantastic.

Once I found my pants and made it back to the dorm, I was greeted by friends and well-wishers, all of whom informed me – in stereo – that everyone in the room had gotten a good long look at my balls during the show. That certainly explains the applause. After getting dressed, we found out that our performance – hands down the best of the night – was given fourth fucking place. Life’s a goddamned popularity contest. The only good thing to come out of this was an icebreaker at every frat party I attended for the rest of my life. It went a little like this:

[Shouting]
- Hey, what frat are you in?
- I’m in Delta!
- No shit? When did you pledge?
- Fall of ’04!
- No fucking way! I remember your balls! That was awesome!

This took place three or four times a week for over a year - regardless of the gender of the person asking - and always ended with me getting free beer. Nothing beats the life of a celebrity.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nannarama, the Finale

Last week, in the Mousebed…

After getting home from the wake, I talked to my wife for a while before going to bed. Friday morning the funeral home was going to be open for an hour in order to allow people to pay their last respects before the casket was going to be permanently closed, after which would be the funeral. My mom decided that she needed to see her grandmother one last time, but my dad and brothers decided that they’d rather sleep, and I decided that was a good idea as well.

We drove up to Carver and tried to find the church. This, we thought, would be quite simple. We were told that the church would be in the parking lot directly adjacent to the funeral home. When we got there, we found a parking lot surrounded by many things that weren’t a church. There was a 7-11, a place to learn Tae Kwan Do, a hair salon and a dry cleaner. You may have noticed a lack of the word “church” anywhere on that list. That’s because there wasn’t a church, but there was a Place Where People Worship God. Perhaps it’s because I was raised Catholic in New England, but whenever I think of churches, I think of a wood and brick building built over a century ago with no carpets and a steeple. This preconception was rocked when I started attending Mormon services, as every LDS church I’ve ever attended has carpet, both heat and air conditioning, and was made of cinder blocks. Three of them have had indoor basketball courts. Regardless, this could not have prepared me for the weird Place Where People Worship God in which the funeral service was to be held. This particular PWPWG was built inside of a portion of a strip mall. Apparently, the congregation used to have a real church, but the Catholic Church in Massachusetts is in such dire straits that they couldn’t afford the land anymore so they deconsecrated the building and moved into the strip mall. Instead of pews, it had folding chairs tethered to each other with zip-ties. Instead of an altar, it had a platform made of 2x4s and plywood. Instead of windows it had wooden facades painted to look like stained glass windows.

One thing this PWPWG did have was a priest. He informed my brothers that they had volunteered as altar servers for the funeral. This was not something they had actually done, and they told the priest that they were not going to participate in his bullshit. I don’t think they actually used those words, but that was the tone they used. Apparently the night before, my mother had told the priest that Tommy and Billy had a deep, burning desire to participate in the funeral service, just assuming that they’d want to. If they had been presented with the idea as an option, as opposed to a requirement, they might even have done it. However, since it was something our mother wanted them to do they dismissed it out of hand. The priest took one look at me and told me that my mother told him that I had converted to Judaism, so I was also ineligible to be of service. I’m glad my mom thinks I’m a Jew.

The funeral procession made the long trek from the funeral home next door with my mom’s car leading the way. Well, after the hearse, of course. Again, in death Nan was to be used as an opportunity for my mom to try and one-up her sisters. After the initial altar boy confusion, the ceremony went off without much of a hitch. My aunt Lynn delivered the eulogy, which, it seemed to me, came off as a little passive-aggressive. There were a lot of stories about Nan irritating the fuck out of the people around her. A lot of stories that involved “Are you going out dressed like that?” and “You’ve put on weight.” This will always be my lasting memory of Nan. This will also be the only memory of Nan that the seven strangers who were attending the 9am mass and decided to stick around for the funeral will ever have. Harold and Maude is one of my all time favorite movies, but the people who hang out at funerals are still fucking weird. My other memory of Nan will be when she asked my wife if she was Mexican.

When the funeral ended, we drove, procession-style, to the cemetery. When we got there, my brothers and some of Nan’s extended family carried the casket to the gravesite. The casket was, much like at the funeral home and PWPWG, flanked with large floral arrangements. The priest blessed the ground and the casket and sprayed everything down with a turkey baster full of holy water. It was really sad. Not the funeral, the turkey baster. After the last rites, the heretofore silent funeral director spoke:

“And so concludes the funeral of Sophie Lucie-ah. You-ah loss will be mou-ahn-ed. The current time is 12:30. At 1:00 in the aftah-noon they-ah will be a brunch at the Heaaaaath and Kettle in Cah-vah ovah on Fou-ath Street. I am sorry fo-ah you-ah loss.”

After the shock of such a small woman making so much noise in a cemetery, everyone mulled around for a few minutes, waiting for my mom to leave. She was, after all, the first person in the funeral procession, so she was blocking the exit for everyone else. After repeatedly refusing directions from my aunt Pat, my mom got into her car and started to drive off. About three feet into her journey she stopped, put her car in park and got out. She ran over to the gravesite and took the flowers that she had bought off of the casket and put them in the trunk of her car, in front of God and everyone. The brunch was uneventful, mostly because my cereal-bar-pilfering aunt Karen wasn’t present. She wasn’t at the funeral either. When my mom called her to ask why, Karen said she just slept through it because she needed to spend more time with her cats. Okay, I made that up. She just slept through it for no good reason. I’m sure her cats did appreciate the bonding time, though.

Saturday came and went without incident. I watched some football and hockey with my family, which was nice. I never get to watch hockey in LA because the team out here sucks and nobody cares about them. My dad decided to send me to the mall once again with my brothers and a pocketful of cash, mostly to get me to spend more time with them. I’d gladly do it for free, but I’d even gladderly do it for money. Going back to the mall sucks for me because my goal, like that of so many right-thinking adults, is to never see 99% of the people I knew in high school again. The mall just does not allow for this to happen, sadly. I got out unscathed, but I couldn’t enjoy my time there because I had to keep my head on a swivel in case I was in danger of being recognized. While we were out of the house, my mother took the flowers from her grandmother’s grave and brought them down to my family’s church and asked that Sunday morning’s mass be dedicated to her memory. Naturally, after going through all this work she didn’t show up at church the next morning. Terrific work.

Since my dad wanted a little time to himself on Sunday to work and watch football, he had my mom drive me back to the airport. The last time I got a ride from my mom was the three hour hellride from the airport in Providence to my parents’ house, so I was naturally not looking forward to this trip. This was the day after I got married, and my wife was treated to the full Kathy Grimmer Experience. True to form, this trip was a singularly miserable experience, especially with the extra 45 minutes we had to sit in traffic as a result of a gasoline truck tipping over on the highway earlier that day, cutting off traffic to the airport. Fanfuckingtastic. I made it home ten or so hours later to find that my cat had forgotten who I was and was spooked by me being around.

*****

My life isn’t very interesting. This all I’ve ever wanted. I live in a nice, if a little small, apartment. I have a beautiful wife and an even prettier cat. I take the bus to work and back every day, sometimes I go to the supermarket and sometimes I go out for pizza or Mexican food with my wife. All I want is to do this every day with very little variance for the rest of my life and die. When I’m dead, I don’t want anyone to have to travel to come see me. I’ll be dead, what the fuck do I care if you’re in a PWPWG sitting next to the weird Zen fountain and crying? I just want to be left alone, and in death I want to leave everyone else alone. If you’re around when I die, please be sure to donate my body to the nearest scientific research center and inform the proper authorities.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nannarama Part II

When last we left our hero, he was stuck on Cape Cod for a funeral.

Wednesday came and I got up late in the morning. It was strange having the whole house to myself. I live in a smallish apartment in Hollywood that I have to share most of the time with my wife and all of the time with my cat, so having an entire three bedroom house all for me was a bit overwhelming. I shuffled around the house, glad to find that everything was more or less where it was when I moved out a couple years before. The cups and plates were in the top left cabinets, canned goods and dry soup was still in the top right cabinets, the only thing that was missing was the unmistakable odor of a dying dog.

About 12 or so years ago – it could be more, I’m not sure – my family took a trip out to Holyoke, MA to visit my aunt Karen. By the way, this week was ostensibly about my great grandmother, but this post will be mostly about Karen. While we were there, my aunt and mother convinced my dad to buy a Lhasa Apso dog. For those who have never seen a Lhasa, they’re medium-sized dogs with beautiful, long, cream colored hair. This particular dog was no different. That is, until my mother got a hold of it. That summer, the first thing she did was shave it, leaving it looking like – as my wife put it – a fat, wriggling maggot. This was bad enough, but the torture didn’t stop for this poor dog. First it developed rashes all over its body. Then it had some kind of weird armpit eczema. Then it started to smell like rotting death. Then its knees started to deteriorate. Then it went blind. Finally, and about three years too late if you ask me, my family euthanized it. The decision to get rid of this dog probably added about $100,000 to the value of my parents’ home, and in these tough economic times that’s a pretty good deal.

Anyhow, I futzed around the house all day, making myself food and checking my email and everything. My dad came home early in the afternoon with delicious subs and told me that my services would be needed that evening at my brothers’ football game. Tommy and Billy both play for Barnstable Middle School’s football team and they were on the verge of going undefeated for the first time ever. If that wasn’t good enough, they were playing Hated Rival School Falmouth. My job that night was to assist in moving the chains. For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the game of football, this means I’d be standing on the sideline holding a warning cone orange stick marking how far the team would need to move the ball to get a fresh set of downs. If you don’t know what that means, then go read the NFL rulebook, there’s nothing else I can do for you.

When I packed, I made sure to put some warm clothes in my bag, on the off chance I’d be standing outside in near-freezing weather for two hours. Good thing I did, because God damn was it cold that night. I wore a blue hoodie underneath my brown corduroy jacket and still managed to freeze at least one, if not both, of my balls off. At least I was close to the action. I looked and felt like a stranger in a strange land standing around in clothes purchased at the Gap. Everyone around me was dressed up like they were attending a weekend-long hunting trip rather than a middle school football game. Floppy-eared hunting hats, plaid flannel overcoats, workboots, flasks, the whole nine yards. I felt downright European.

There are really only two types of people who should be attending middle school football games: middle schoolers and the family of middle schoolers. On both sidelines, there were plenty of people who fit neither description. I was on the Falmouth sideline doing my best to remain a neutral party and not cheer for Barnstable. Behind me was a family from the land of 540 Dialers consisting of a 19 year old father, his 17 year old bride and their baby, who was none too pleased to be out in the freezing cold. After Falmouth scored their first points of the game late in the second quarter, the thugnificent father started making fun of Barnstable cornerback. He even threatened to “beat his fucking ass in the parking lot after the game.” He was warned by the referees to stop verbally assaulting an eighth grader, and he quietly said he’d “stomp out your old ass too, zebra.”

Barnstable won the game 50 – 22 or something like that and, classy as ever in defeat, got booed by the Falmouth fans. Great stuff, you 540-dialing motherfuckers. On the way home, we stopped at DJ’s to get some wings to celebrate the victory and the season. That night, my brothers struck a deal with my dad to stay home from school on the condition that they both get haircuts for the funeral. I was charged with the task of taking them down to the mall to get said haircuts and take them out to lunch afterwards. This meant, of course, that I’d be given money to hang out with my brothers, which I am always down for.

The next morning the three of us set off for the mall. First, a little background information about the barber shop at the Cape Cod Mall. First of all, it’s not a Supercuts or a Fantastic Sam’s. It’s an independently owned and operated barber shop, which is rare in malls. Secondively, it was one of the first shops in the mall and has never moved. It’s the same today as it was when I started getting my hair cut there over 20 years ago, so it’s a bit of a landmark. As such, when one of the founding barbers, Howie, retired earlier this year, it was a pretty big deal. Something I had forgotten about Cape Cod is that nothing really happens. When I went inside the shop, there was a framed copy of the Cape Cod Times with Howie on the front page. Not the front page of the local news section, the front page. Like A1. All of A1. The entire front page was devoted to Howie. This was a nice gesture, but I couldn’t help but wonder if a cat had gotten stuck in a tree or something and it was bumped to A2 because of a retiree.

Howie’s protégé was a nice enough guy and both of my brothers got their haircuts from him. Tommy and Billy are both of an age when how you look really matters to those around you. This starts around the age of nine and continues until about six seconds before you die. Tommy asked to just get his hair trimmed in the front and cleaned up a bit in the back, and came out of the chair looking like Sandy Duncan, right down to the glass eye. Before getting into the chair Billy looked as if he was wearing a wig that someone had fashioned after the shape of a penis. After he was done getting his haircut, he looked as if he was wearing a wig that had been fashioned after the shape of a slightly smaller penis. They were both perfectly happy with their new ‘dos and we went off to get some lunch.

We left the mall shortly after eating and got home around 1pm. The wake was that evening, and my dad had agreed to give our aunt Karen – remember Karen? It’s a post about Karen – a ride to the event. My dad told her to show up at 3pm because he was leaving work that day at 2:30. She showed up at 1:15 and let herself in. This was at best unwelcome and at worst a huge pain in the ass. Karen is famous for being a huge freeloader. One day we came home to find her doing her laundry in our house because she figured it would be cheaper to drive 45 minutes to our house to do free laundry than to go to the coin-op laundry five minutes away from her house and pay two dollars per load. Savvy. After entering without knocking, she made her way to the kitchen to ransack our family’s supply of Nutrigrain cereal bars and microwaveable popcorn. She held us captive with boring, depressing conversation about nothing until my dad got home and we went up to Carver for the wake. We spent most of the drive asking Tommy if he wanted to look like he had a muffin attached to his shoulders or if that’s just how things turned out. He was not happy, to say the least.

At the wake, Nan’s body was flanked by beautiful bouquets of flowers, all with decorative sashes with various titles on them. “Mother,” “Grandmother” and “Great Grandmother,” all neatly propped up around the casket. My mother, who had arrived some time earlier to help set up, was sitting on a loveseat to the right of the casket and stared at it as though she’d somehow be able to revive her grandmother by sheer force of will. This, I was to find out, was not her intent. When we went to greet her, she demanded that we move out of her way, as we were blocking the view of the flowers she had bought. Even in death, Nan was to be used as a way for my mother to prove that she was the best of her five sisters. Her bouquet had to be on top of the casket, and everyone had to tell her how pretty it was. In front of the casket was a small padded bar on which one could kneel to pay their last respects to the body. At one point my mother and Karen had managed to wedge both of their large frames onto the padded bar – which I’m sure has a proper, churchy name – to admire the details of my mother’s floral arrangement. My dad isn’t exactly great around dead bodies, so he decided it would be best to take his three sons home early, leaving my mom and Karen at the funeral home, which was fine as they could travel back to the Cape in my mom’s car. We drove back to West Barnstable, but not before stopping to eat at Outback Steakhouse. We all shared our Karen horror stories and had a great dinner before heading home.

-----

While you’ll have to wait for this story to reach its non-epic climax, here’s a Thanksgiving story to warm your heart. My mom used to have a job that involved entering other people’s houses to draw their blood. She figured, and rightly, I might add, that she may encounter some weirdoes in her travels, so she became licensed to carry pepper spray, which is considered a concealed weapon in Massachusetts. She didn’t keep it concealed, however; she kept it on her car keys. This proved to be troublesome one Thanksgiving, as Billy, who was about six at the time, got my mom’s can of mace and sprayed it into an intake vent for our central air unit, spreading burning goodness all over the house early in the morning. Everyone woke up having a hard time breathing and itching like crazy. Now, I don’t know about you but the first thing I do when I wake up is rub my eyes and go to the bathroom. This is not usually a problem, but I don’t usually have pepper spray all over my hands. Mace burns like holy hell when applied directly to the penis. The best part was, everything in the house was covered in mace for a week, which includes TV remotes and telephones, so if you forgot to thoroughly wipe everything down before handling it, you’d get a mouth/hand/ear/eyeful of burning death. At least we didn’t have to go to our Aunt Pat’s house for Thanksgiving dinner that year. She doesn’t have TV, and that’s even worse than a nutsack covered in fiery hate.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unto Us a mousebed is Born

August 31, 2008

8:28:58 PM Josh: And menthol cigarettes were created to stop the black athletes from breaking Babe Ruth's home run record.
8:29:18 PM John: Hahaha, where'd you hear that?
8:30:03 PM Josh: Which one? The true one or the one I just made up?
8:30:12 PM John: The menthol cigarette one.
8:30:27 PM Josh: Eh, it just makes sense.
8:30:45 PM John: Oh wow. You, sir, have to start writing stuff down.
8:31:06 PM Josh: Goddamn it
8:31:23 PM Josh: You're the third person in the last 24 hours to tell me to start writing. I think I'm duty bound now.
8:31:57 PM John: The internet makes a lot of money. You should try and get some of that internet money.
8:33:03 PM Josh: Gotta get in line for that internet money.

Hi, I'm John. As you can see, I'm the one who got Josh to start mousebed. You're welcome.

Loyal mousebed readers already know me as the guy who invented the term “getting Kedzied” and as the possessor of a Canadian cousin who apparently drove this blog's proprietor/protagonist wild. I also have an American cousin that's done the same to all my other friends, but that's not why I'm here today.

I'm here because in addition to my multinational coalition of reportedly hot cousins, I also possess more knowledge of the life and times of Josh Grimmer than anyone else in the world. Now, his wife would probably disagree with that assessment, and rightfully so. But was she there the day that Josh rationalized Al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks to Courtney Edwards in Physics class by saying “If you get pushed down the stairs, then I'm going to laugh at you, because I. Don't. Like. You.?” Fuck no. Only I was.

Simply put, nobody else has more eyewitness accounts of ridiculous things that have happened in Josh's life than yours truly. I've been watching or hearing about these events for a solid seven years now; I'm responsible for over 50% of the comments here for a reason. Some people have wealth, companionship, or a career path. I, on the other hand, have stories about Josh that he either forgot or fucked up when he wrote about them here. And – good thing for you – I plan to share them.

Indeed, thanks to the departure of Josh's great grandmother, I have strong armed my way into this space. That was a factual statement, you see; Josh is back here on his native Cape Cod to attend funeral services. He will not be writing today. Yes, I know I should've told you that in the first paragraph. But you wouldn't still be reading then, would you Mr. Santa Monica Internet Stranger? Today's post makes me an official mousebed contributor, and contribute I shall. Look for more of me in the near future.

In the meantime, you probably wanted to read Josh today. Fear not, mass text message recipient! I have a large repository of Josh Grimmer's writing, all of which is in the form of instant messages sent to me by the one and only FruMoogle. Below are some of the greatest instant messages I received from him since I got this laptop for Christmas. Not to worry, I've got a whole 'nother hard drive full of these babies in the other room. The mousebed well shalln't go dry. Not now, not ever.

January 14, 2008

10:07:08 PM FruMoogle: Listen, I want you to know that I made a joke about the California Black Caucus today.
10:07:23 PM FruMoogle: And let's just say they have a lot of fun.
10:07:31 PM FruMoogle: They're the Big Swingin' Black Caucus.
10:07:56 PM FruMoogle: I don't know why you needed to know that, but I was so proud of myself.

February 4, 2008

10:25:31 PM John: Steve Spagnuolo man
10:25:44 PM John: I've been in awe of what he's been able to accomplish
10:25:52 PM Josh Grimmer: No shit. Have fun watching him get a ludicruous coaching contract from another team.
10:26:43 PM John: :(
10:27:05 PM John: Yeah, he's got an interview with the Redskins this week. They'd be insane not to hire him at this point.
10:27:13 PM FruMoogle: No kidding.
10:27:22 PM FruMoogle: I was about to say he'd revive their secondary
10:27:27 PM FruMoogle: But that would be in poor taste.

(Ed. Note: Link mine)

August 10, 2008

3:16:02 PM FruMoogle: Well this is shitty.
3:19:54 PM John: If "Clay Buchholz" is the noun you were replacing with "this," then I agree.
3:22:37 PM FruMoogle: Yeah he needs to stop being a faggot.
3:22:41 PM FruMoogle: Who threw a no hitter.
3:22:46 PM FruMoogle: BUT HE DIDN'T BEAT CANCER
3:22:51 PM FruMoogle: So he's dead to me.
3:22:54 PM FruMoogle: Ironic

August 31, 2008

8:05:32 PM FruMoogle: These videos are so bad. It's in alphabetical order and we're at the Pet Shop Boys and man they are worse than I remember.
8:05:37 PM FruMoogle: I remember them being terrible.
8:06:15 PM FruMoogle: 80s Nite at Club Hell in Providence was a lot of fun because nobody dressed the part.
8:06:34 PM FruMoogle: And the girls were a lot less scary than Punk Rock High School Nite
8:19:44 PM John: Right, 80's night always got that young crowd that couldn't remember the 80's.
8:21:19 PM FruMoogle: What's worse is the retarded 80s pride people have. I was born in 1989! I'M A CHILD OF THE 80S! VALLEY GIRL WHOO
8:22:06 PM John: BILLY IDOL!!!!!!!1!!!!11!
8:22:32 PM FruMoogle: HOORAY IRAN CONTRA SCANDAL
8:22:33 PM FruMoogle: Wait

September 28, 2008

2:42:03 PM FruMoogle: Facebook is telling me to give UCLA my sperm.
2:42:29 PM FruMoogle: UCLA is a sperm school with an Asian student problem

October 26, 2008

7:23:57 PM FruMoogle: Sorry Harrison, longsnapping is a white man's game.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody. Josh says he'll post on Tuesday or Wednesday, but he's probably full of shit.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chapel of blugh.

Every family has traditions. Usually these have to do with Advent Calendars, Thanksgiving dinner or camping trips. My family is famous for ruining things at weddings. As far back as I can remember, every blessed event has been marred by the actions of one or more members of my family. Luckily for me and my wife, we decided to get married far away from the horrible influence of my parents and their extended families. Unfortunately, we decided to take our honeymoon back in my hometown of West Barnstable and they saw their opening. Their only recourse was to ruin the reception and honeymoon.

After an uneventful wedding we got on a plane to Providence, and eight hours later we were greeted by my mom at the airport. For the past five or six years there has been millions of dollars worth of construction hindering progress around the airport and the highways have been, at best, difficult to navigate. It took my mother less than two minutes to miss her exit, get off on the wrong exit and drive us two hours in the wrong direction. It was an epic failure in every possible way. She managed to talk for the entire three and a half hour drive without pausing to listen to a single word anyone else had to say, even as I was screaming at her to stop. No better way to kick off your marriage than calling your mom a miserable cunt in front of your new bride. The nice thing is, my wife agrees. The only person who hates my mom more than me is Aurora.

Once we finally made it to the Cape, we stayed a night at my parents’ house while the cottage we were going to stay in was being prepared for us. We slept in two beds that were pushed together. Not great, but it was a lot better than being on the plane or in the car with my mom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of our time with her. Every few minutes after we went to bed she would pop her head into the room under the guise of offering us drinks or bathrobes or something, but we all knew she was trying to catch us having sex.

Our reception was decorated by my mother, which meant it was classless and horrible. She made it a point to tell everyone within earshot that the cake she had supplied for us was called an “Electra Cake” because it was the same design as the cake used at Carmen Electra’s wedding. If only I had come dressed like Dennis Rodman. After boring the family and alienating my friends, she decided the party needed music. But what to play? Janet Jackson’s greatest hits, of course. She pressed play and turned the volume all the way to 11, filling the hall with horrible music. That’s not all, though. She put the CD on track repeat, so we got to hear the same song three times before everyone yelled at her to shut it off. Also, my now 100-year-old great grandmother asked my wife if she was “Ethnic.”

This wasn’t the first retarded wedding my family would have to endure. My grandfather, who is by all accounts a very cool guy, was going to remarry about fifteen years ago. I don’t remember what the name of his fiancée was, but she was a bit of a joke among his children. She liked to yell at kids, and since I was the only kid in the family I got yelled at a lot. The day of his wedding we drove up to Middleboro, MA and found our way to the church. We were greeted with an empty parking lot. This was before easy communication via cell phone, and after about an hour of asking the people at the church we found out that, while we had been driving, they had cancelled the wedding and just decided to have a celebratory lunch instead. We went to the banquet hall and since we were the last to get there, we no longer had the option of chicken or fish. When I found this out I was hoping they were out of fish. Unfortunately this was not the case. I very unhappily choked down my fish, but was happy that my grandfather hadn’t married this unpleasant woman. She smelled like perfume and old stink. Blugh.

About ten years after that incident, one of my cousins was getting married. I had no idea which, and to this day cannot tell them apart. One is named Jimmy, one is named David. They’re not even twins. They were born like five years apart. It’s sad. Jimmy or David was getting married in a nice little town outside of Atlanta. My mom snuck a joint through security and got high at the reception, and was the butt of many jokes. Not to be outdone, my dad got pretty blitzed himself and decided to drop his pants on the dance floor, to riotous applause. We have not heard from that part of the family since.

When I got married, I thought I had finally escaped the realm of horrible weddings. I was sad to find I was mistaken, as earlier this month my sister in law got married. The bride is a sociopath, but luckily her family has realized this. Naturally, she had to find another family to leech off of. Luckily, she found a horny stooge to sweep her off her feet. She managed to play the “Wicked Stepsisters” card on her groom’s family and made herself out to be a victim of every injustice known to man. At the end of the Snow White-themed reception, the photographer started to pack up his gear and headed towards the exit. She stopped him and demanded he take a picture of her and her new husband in a pose resembling their cake-topper. Hope he signed a prenuptial.

After all of this bullshit, I plan to only get married the one time. I suggest to anyone who doesn’t believe in God, don’t get married. It’s not worth the hassle if you don’t believe in an eternal covenant.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy anniversarween

You may have noticed, by using what are called “context clues,” that I am married. Not to get drippy, but I’m happily married and have a great life. I had the misfortune of growing up in an area full of deplorable, boring, idiotic people, which, from what I gather, is not uncommon. As the astute reader will also have gathered by now, I had a series of romantic failures between ages 14 and 20. This also does not make me that uncommon. Unlike most people, my misadventures ended at age 20.

I met my wife on the very same Internet on which this blog is posted. We met through a message board for a now long-defunct comedy site. We started talking over AIM, then eventually over the phone every now and again, then eventually every night for three hours. The first time we spoke on the phone I told her I was going to marry her. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her this, but I remember it as clearly as I can remember anything, so that has to count for something.

A few years in, it became abundantly clear that we’d have to eventually meet in person, and an invitation to a Halloween party provided us an opportunity to finally get together. A few of my friends and I had planned to dress up for this party as Tom Waits, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed and go together, but now I had a real date so the new plan was for her to dress up as a sexy vampire and I would go as Lou Reed still because I didn’t really want to get a real costume.

When she arrived at the airport in Providence, RI, things were pretty awkward. We had never considered each other to be actual people. For years we had both just been voices on the other end of a phone and once we had broken that concept, there was no going back. It’s a tough strain on a relationship once there are actual people involved in it. We did what was best for our friendship and immediately broke up. Believe it or not, this really helped me out. Now that I had been dumped by my phone girlfriend, I could work on making her an actual, real life girlfriend who I dated. Step one was to impress her at this Halloween party.

The party was being held in a house being let out to about a dozen losers, two of whom were friends of my loser friends. The moment we got of the car we were approached by a girl who appeared to be at least two and possibly all four of the following things: fat, drunk, pregnant and mentally retarded. She told my date that she looked hot and slurred her way though a description of her costume which, it appeared to me, was “green and purple dress.”

We met up with some of my loser buddies and I had a few beers. One of my loser buddies had brought his loser girlfriend, who expected us to give her a ride somewhere. It was then that my girlfriend and I decided that rather than be drunked at by a bunch of losers, we’d go get dinner at Burger King and call it a night. We were still undecided about how we felt about each other as potential mates, but I felt like I had made some headway. The only thing that could fuck this up was my mom. She came into my room no less than half a dozen times to ask us if we were in love and take shitty pictures of us together. It was nerve-wracking having to try to rebuild three years of a relationship over the course of a long weekend, let alone have to compete with my crazy mom.

The next morning, we went out to breakfast at IHOP. By the time we got to the big blue building, it had started snowing. It was November 1. It was then that I truly understood the power of my future wife to control the weather. She was cold and unhappy so all of Hyannis had to suffer with her. After we had eaten, she calmed down and the snow stopped. It was eerie.

We got over our mutual weirdness and decided to more or less get back together and meet up for another long weekend later that year. The second time around it was a little less weird and we were able to truly enjoy our time together. A few months later I moved out to Los Angeles to be with her, and about a year after that we got married. Every time I think about this turn of events, I’m stunned that it actually worked. For the first time in documented history, I was right when I said “that’s the woman I’m going to marry.” For the record, I’ve also said this about Sarah Vowell, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kim Gordon, Katie Miller and Gadget from Rescue Rangers (in reverse chronological order).

I’m sure Halloween used to have some non-trick-or-treat purpose. It no doubt has to do with Catholicism ripping off Pagan holidays. If you know the real origin, I don’t care. For me Halloween marks the end of my desire to meet people through the Internet and the beginning of my life as a grown up.

Bonus Halloween story: When I was very young, I lived with my mom. My dad had split and we were left alone to muddle through with our food stamps and welfare. We had a decent life, if a little bland. For the first few years I can remember celebrating Halloween, I was the Roadrunner. It was the only costume we had and it wasn’t fitted so I couldn’t really grow out of it.

When I was five, through a combination of grab-ass, rough housing and horseplay, I was thrown into a wooden fence and had a rusty nail shoved into my skull, about a half an inch or so above my left orbital socket. I got 17 stitches and an eyepatch that I got to wear for the first three months of kindergarten. I was Eyepatch Kid. When Halloween came around I figured it was a foregone conclusion that I’d go as a pirate. Unfortunately, that would require effort on the part of my mom so I went as the Roadrunner with an eyepatch. At least I was the Roadrunner, as opposed to a roadrunner. That way I was only blind, not blind and humiliated.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Matt and Ben

Warning: This week's post is fictional! I wrote some fiction. I hope you enjoy it.

Matt just made it through the door as he heard his answering machine beep. He just missed a call. He was in no hurry to check what messages were left for him, having just returned from a weekend of working in Hawaii with some friends. Matt’s job had him traveling a lot, but he loved his co-workers. George was a bit older and always good for a story over a cigarette and some shots, and Julia just lit up a room with her smile. It’s nice to work with your friends.

The sound of Matt’s bags hitting the floor in the entry hall was all that Espo and El Guapo needed to hear. The two golden retrievers scampered down the hall to bum rush their owner, barking and lapping his hands as he scratched them behind the ears. He filled their bowl with some dry food and made a sandwich while his dogs ate contently.

As he was about to sit down in the living room, he remembered the answering machine. He trudged back into the entry hall, plopped his copy of the LA Times on the side table and saw the red, glowing “8” on his machine. “Eight messages and I was only away for two days?” He pressed play and was greeted with a familiar voice.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me Ben. Haven’t heard from you in a while, just wondering what was up? The Lakers are playing the Celtics this week, wanna hang out at my place and watch the game? Jen and I just got a big screen. It’ll be great. Get back to me, man. You know the number. Peace. BEEP

Ben! Matt hadn’t talked to Ben in so long. They used to work together, but over the past few years they had drifted apart. Matt got a good job and moved out to Los Angeles, while Ben still lived – more or less – back in Boston. They were friends going way back. Matt and Ben met in elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Matt was a bit older, but Ben was just happy to have a friend. After meeting at recess, they quickly became thick as thieves.

BEEP Hey Matt, what’s going on? It’s Casey. I know you won’t get this until you get back but I’m just letting you know that things are going well with the dogs. Espo’s been real sweet and El Guapo still jumps up on me. It’s tough taking them for a walk ‘cause Espo always runs at other dogs and El Guapo will stop to eat anything. But you knew that. Anyhow man, your mail is on the table. We’re still on for lunch for George and Brad, right? Yeah, so you can hear the dogs barking in the background. Gotta run. See you later man. BEEP

You’d never know it, but Casey was Ben’s kid brother. Casey was born down on Cape Cod and loved the beach. Even his wife’s name was Summer. He was a sweet kid, but everyone knew he got a lot of work by being related to Ben. That’s what happens when you’re from a small town. People judge you by the merits of your family before they judge you, for good or ill.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me Ben. You’ll never fucking believe it, but I got tickets for game two of the Lakers and Celtics, man! Dude, they cost a bundle but it’s totally worth it. We gotta go together. If you can’t come – and you’d be a total pussy if you missed it – I guess I could just take Jen. But come on, man! It’s the playoffs! Gimme a call. You know the number. Peace. BEEP

Huh. Matt thought he had told Ben he was leaving town for the weekend. He sent everyone a message on his e-mail list. Weird.

BEEP Hey Matt. It’s me. Ben. You on vacation or something? (Well that answered that question) I haven’t heard from you in forever. Listen, I just got a copy of the tenth anniversary edition of Good Will Hunting on Blu-Ray. Remember going to school together in Boston? Remember? Listen. Call me. If I don’t pick up, try Jen’s cell. We’re always together. Call. Me. See you around, man. Peace. BEEP

Matt checked his caller ID. Ben had called him over a dozen times that weekend. It was getting creepy.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me. Ben. Remember? From school. Listen dude, Kevin just finished putting together a new campaign and we need another adventurer for Dungeons and Dragons Sunday night. We’ve even got extra dice. Come on over man. It’ll be like old times. Jason and Brian will be there! The five of us haven’t hung out in so long. Listen, I’ll even roll you a fresh character so you won’t have to do that. It’ll be fun. Come on. Call me. Peace. BEEP

Jesus Christ.

BEEP Matt, what’s up man? It’s me, Don. We’re doing an AIDS walk next Friday and I was wondering if you could come. It’ll only be a few hours, but I think you’ll have a good time. Spike will be there. Gimme a call. BEEP

Thank God.

BEEP Hey dick, it’s me Ben. What the hell man? You never return my fucking calls. I can’t believe you. What the hell? We have so much fun when we hang out. Remember when we stole Janeane’s notebook on the set of Dogma and she couldn’t do her standup gig that night? Haha that was awesome! Come on man. Call me. I can come over to your place! Me and Jen! Or not! Jen doesn’t have to hang out, man. I know you’re busy. Do you still see Clooney? Jesus, man. I’m sorry. I just- I just wanna hang out. That’s all. Call me. I miss you.

Jen says hi. BEEP


He was dumbstruck. Matt had no idea what to say. Poor Ben. Matt had been working so much he hadn’t hung out with Ben in so long, he just had no idea it affected him so much. After Ben did Jersey Girl and Daredevil, Matt’s friends had stopped hanging out with Ben, and he followed suit. He felt like such a dick.

BEEP Hey Matt, it’s me. Ben. I got a great idea for Good Will Hunting 2. So this time- BEEP MESSAGE DELETED. END OF MESSAGES.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Never date a girl named Vicky

(When we last left our hero, he was returning to college after an amazing summer, only to encounter his ex-girlfriend who tore his heart apart.)

It’s amazing how quickly you tend to forget your problems when you get a whole new set of seemingly more important problems. I just got back to school and I had a bunch of new classes to inevitably fail. I also had the Boston Red Sox to worry about.

I don’t really believe in the supernatural affecting the world as we know it. I believe in God, but I don’t really believe in ghosts or curses or divine intervention. Not on a grand scale, at least. I don’t think that God has anything to do with the outcome of football games, nor do dead teammates. Sorry Redskins fans. That being said, the Boston Red Sox had a pretty shitty run for a while. Most people attribute this to Harry Frazee selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and the Babe decided to take his revenge from beyond the grave by not allowing the Sox to win a World Series ever again. Be sure not to take into account the focus on hitting instead of pitching and defense. That has nothing to do with anything. It was just an incorporeal corpulent asshole crushing the dreams of thousands of New Englanders for almost a century.

The Sox managed to make the playoffs and were in position to break my heart again. However, I was about to acquire a good luck charm. A friend of mine had introduced me to a friend of hers. She said, “Josh, this is Vicky. She’s a dyke.” I was disheartened to hear this, as I was quite taken with her. Maybe it was because she had a similar look to John’s Canadian Cousin. More likely it was the fact that I wanted to make my ex jealous. Whatever the case was, I had to make her my lesbian girlfriend.

As luck would have it, Vicky wasn’t actually a lesbian. She just made out with girls to get guys to like her. Well, it worked. We went out on a few chaperoned dates with mutual friends and finally decided we were going steady. This was October 17, 2004. At this time, the Red Sox were down three games to none and were facing elimination by their hated rivals, the New York Yankees. Vicky and I came home that night and watched the end of game four. The Sox managed to win in spectacular fashion and we celebrated into the early morning.

Upon waking up that afternoon, I realized that I had made a huge mistake. This girl was not very interesting. And she was kind of a shrew. And she hated all of my guy friends. And was jealous of all of my girl friends. And so on. On one hand, I wanted to dump her. On the other, we needed exactly six people in the room to watch the playoffs, otherwise the Sox would lose. I swear I’m not a superstitious person, but you know, it couldn’t hurt. I decided to dump her after the playoffs ended. One more Red Sox loss and we’d be through.

We all know what happens next. They won game five on another walk off hit. Then they won game six. Then they won game seven. They were in the World Series. With each passing day, I was growing simultaneously more and less gleeful. The Sox had beaten the Yankees in the playoffs, which I never thought I’d see. They were in the World Series, which again, I never thought I’d see. Unfortunately I also would never see the end of my terrible relationship. I was going to weird Bible study classes with her creepy friends where we’d hear about the evils of premarital sex, and then go home to sin. I started smoking more cigarettes with each passing day, partially because I was nervous about the Red Sox, but mostly because it was an excuse to get away from my fake lesbian girlfriend for five or six minutes at a time.

The worst part was all of my friends knew that I hated her. They all asked why I was still with her and I knew if I told them why I’d get laughed at for being superstitious, and then the trick wouldn’t work anymore and the Sox would start losing again. Intellectually I knew I had no power over the outcome of baseball games but 86 years of failure will make you do a lot of really dumb shit. All I had to do was keep my retarded secret and everything would be okay. I could dump her as soon as the World Series was over. Ten more days, tops.

The Sox were playing an allegedly superior St. Louis Cardinals team who had the most wins in the majors that year. The dreadful possibility of a knock-down, drag-out seven game series loomed ominously on the horizon. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. After winning the first two games of the series at Fenway after committing a combined eight errors over 18 innings, I knew this truly was Destiny’s team, and I would be free of the clutches of this horrible, hateful girl. The team went to St. Louis and took care of the Cards in short order behind the solid pitching of Pedro Martinez in game 3 and a lockdown performance in game 4 from Derek Lowe. It was over. We all hugged and cried. We took pictures and rioted alongside members of the Bridgewater State College police force. The only arrests that night were for indecent exposure. It was glorious. We went back home and fell asleep, eyes red from cigarette smoke, lack of sleep and joyous tears. Life could not have been better, and I would dump Vicky the Lesbian first thing in the morning.

We woke up late in the morning and made ourselves some breakfast. Our other roommates had gone off to work or class and we had the kitchen to ourselves. I poured her a cup of coffee and sat down. In classic sitcom style, I told her I had something to say. She then asked me what time we’d be leaving to get to the Victory Parade. I said, “Whenever you think is good, hon.” She asked me what I needed to talk to her about. I said nothing. I wasn’t going to jeopardize my ride to the parade.

We made it up to Boston a couple days later and stood in the mist watching our heroes drive by in duck boats. To paraphrase Jim Varney in Earnest Goes to Camp, I was glad it was raining ‘cause no one sees the teardrops when it pours. I was moved to tears by the sight of Curtis Leskanic and Alan Embree. My friends called and asked if we would be kind enough to meet them at the Charles River to see the team drive their duck boats into the water. I wanted to but Vicky wanted to go eat. We ended up going to a restaurant and my friends saw Matt Damon. Great. We walked around the Hub for a while and headed back to Bridgewater later that afternoon.

Over the next few days Vicky and I didn’t see much of each other. This managed to breathe still yet more life into our lifeless relationship. She would take the commuter train into Boston every few days to see her friends and I was responsible for watching her car and picking her up when she came back. One rainy day (it rains a lot in Massachusetts in October), I finally decided to drop the guillotine on this relationship. I put on my jacket and hat – a fedora, for the record. It adds class to any situation. I started the car and drove to the train station to pick her up. We drove to the building where my psychology class was and before I could say I word she told me she had been cheating on me. Thaaaat bitch. I couldn’t believe it. Stunned, I left the car and checked my pockets for everything I needed. Cigarettes, lighter, keys – all there. The only thing missing was my phone. I kinda needed that. I ran after her car in the rain. My hat, emboldened by a stiff breeze, liberated itself from my head and was summarily run over by a car. I picked up my flat felt fedora and chased her down. I caught her at a stop light and threw open her passenger side door. She told me she didn’t want me back. I took my phone and ran off, never to see her again.

About an hour or so later, it all sunk in. She dumped me. Why didn’t she love me? What went wrong? So what if I was going to dump her literally five seconds before she dropped that bomb on me? What the fuck is wrong with me that she’d rather be with a guy from her Bible study class who had a gap in his teeth so big you could kick a goddamned field goal through it? What a bitch! All my friends came to my emotional rescue. Choruses of “I never liked her anyway” echoed from every direction. I went from being a dick that was just using her as a rabbit’s foot to a sympathetic figure in no time. It was great.

In hindsight, it seems foolish to have made such a retarded commitment to such a horrible person just so I could see my team win. But I feel like, in the end, it was the right thing to do. My act of selflessness brought joy and closure to generations of New England families, and baseball fans the world over. Red Sox Nation, you needn’t thank me. My reward is the smile I see on the face of every small child, knowing that they saw the Red Sox win in their lifetimes. Somewhere in the Bronx there’s an eight-year-old boy wondering if he’ll be so lucky as to see his Yankees return to glory.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Doyen. Or doyenne.

“I asked my wife how much she loved me when we met. She said, ‘Honestly Emo, zero.’ I was crushed but I asked her how much she loves me now. She said, ‘Oh Emo, a million times that.” – Emo Philips

One of the great things about college is you’re expected to make mistakes. My problem was I made a lot of mistakes going into college, so it took me a whole semester to correct them. My first big mistake was having a long-distance relationship. A lot of college students have long-distance relationships. You get into UMass Amherst, she gets into Wellesley. You vow to remain faithful and then both find different people to have sex with who live a lot closer to you. Possibly across the hall. In her case, it’s a girl because she went to a women’s liberal arts school.

Three or so months into classes, I met a girl through a mutual friend. He and I met in a French class, and they met in a Canadian Studies class. He decided that we’d be perfect for each other, even though he knew she and I were both dating different people. We had a few lunches together and immediately decided that sex had to happen. I left my long-distance girlfriend a voicemail detailing our irreconcilable differences. She dumped her boyfriend on her way back from the dining hall. It was impulsive sex at fourth or fifth sight. It worked out great for both of us. Neither of us liked going to class, and we both liked getting laid.

In truth, I was head over heels in love. I had never connected with a girl like that before. I was committed to making this relationship last forever. A few weeks later, she said she wanted to leave me and go back to her old boyfriend. I begged her to reconsider. At least wait until the day after Valentine’s Day to dump me. She held off. She decided that we really did have a connection and skipped a lot of classes together to gaze longingly into each others’ eyes. All I wanted to do was spend every waking moment with her, but slowly she drifted away. Maybe I should have noticed this trend when, right after we went home for summer break she told me that she hated me and thought I was worth less than the sum of my internal organs. Unfortunately, this was her sense of humor so I laughed it off. I didn’t want to believe she actually hated me. Nobody wants that.

I had a friend who told me to ride it out. She really did love me, my friend said. She just needed space. I gave her space and found out one day that she had gotten engaged to her ex-boyfriend. Four months ago. She had been sleeping with him before coming over to see me. I don’t know what I did after that. I took the cuckold equivalent of a rape shower and cried for a while.

This is the part of the story where things get better though. The worst thing you can have when you get dumped is nothing to do. Luckily I had a concert to go to the next night. Do yourself a favor. If you’re going to get emotionally violated by another human being, make sure you have tickets to go see Cake the next night. They’re the greatest break-up band ever.

The other thing I had going for me was a part-time, unpaid, fake internship for a local baseball team. The Cape Cod Baseball League, according to my resume, is a summer baseball league for top-tier college players to hone their skills before going to the majors. For some players like Jason Varitek and Evan Longoria, that’s true. For players like Nathan Nery and Kevin Koski, it’s not. My position as Fake Intern was very important. First, I had to make sure nobody who cared found out I was pretending to be a Real Intern. Secondively, I ran errands for the Official Scorer, the Radio Broadcast Team and the Voice of the Hyannis Mets. This usually involved telling the Radio Broadcast Team that the Official Scorer ruled something a hit or error and getting drinks from the snack shack. Very important business, I must say.

This position, in case you hadn’t figured out was just another way for me to hang out with my friends from high school and attend baseball games without giving the suggested donation price. Every day after my shift ended at the summer camp – did I mention I was a camp counselor? Well I was – I’d ride my bike from the camp site (i.e., middle school where we played dodgeball all summer) to the ballpark (i.e., the field behind the school that I and every other ten year old in the greater Barnstable area went to fifth grade). After I had freed myself from the tyranny of a horrible shrew woman, I was able to enjoy what would end up being the most enjoyable summer of my life.

One member of the Radio Broadcast Team, John, has a very extended family. The other one might too, but his family didn’t have a reunion that summer. A bunch of John’s family members RV’d down from Canada. I have no idea how many people came to visit from the Great White North, but one of them was a stunning vision of pure Canadianity. She was fair, freckled and had a polite sarcasm that drove me wild. We talked at length about our interests, which included the fine game of cribbage. Cribbage is a game played with a standard deck of cards and a set of rules that you’d swear were made up. We played a few games, during which I famously announced over the phone to (ironically) my future wife that I would be kicking some Canadian ass. I lost in shocking style after blowing an early 28 point lead.

Unfortunately, she was only in town for a few more days so if I was going to make my move, it’d have to be soon. I wasn’t exactly sure what this move would be or how it would work. It’s not like there was anything we could do. Make out in her parents’ RV? White trash. Our last chance at spending any time together was a Hyannis Mets road game against the Wareham Gatemen. We packed a bunch of people into a car and headed for The Gateway to the Cape.

There’s not a lot Wareham has going for it. They have a Denny’s, which at the time was new and exciting. There aren’t a lot of Denny’s on Cape. Wareham isn’t even really part of Cape Cod. It’s on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal. Once you cross that bridge, you’re no longer on Cape, you’re somewhere between the Cape and Boston, and that’s a scientific fact.

Once we got to the game, we made our way out to the center field bleachers. This was a good idea because the bleachers provide the worst view of what would prove to be probably not a great game, and as such nobody else was out there to bother us. John’s Canadian Cousin and I awkwardly giggled our way through six and a half innings of conversation. During our discourse I lied to her and said I knew how to waltz. I figured this would make me look more like a gentleman, and would never, ever come up again during the course of our 72 hour relationship. When it was time to get up and stretch, the PA played Take Me Out to the Ballgame. This, of course, is standard practice. What we didn’t expect was that it was played in a slow, droopy ¾ time, perfect for waltzing. She asked me to dance and I inelegantly groped her through a 90-second stretch of humiliating and terrible waltzing. There are pictures to prove it. The game ended with a 9 – 2 Wareham victory and we all headed back to the Cape. I never saw or heard from John’s Canadian Cousin again.

That fall I returned to college. I started dating a girl who looked like John’s Canadian Cousin. This was less out of a real human connection and more in response to seeing my ex everywhere I went on campus. But that’s a different story for another time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Well, it's third and six on the 53. Let's punt.

I went to two different high schools. The first was a charter school for the kids who wanted a challenge and a non-traditional learning experience. This seemed like a great idea for so many reasons when I was 14. First, I thought it would look good on a college application. Second, I liked the idea of smaller classes. Also I figured that a "non-traditional education" would draw the kind of radical crowd I felt I needed to be a part of. I was 14 and still believed in the value of God, Family and Democracy! I needed someone to explain to me why that was foolish. School started in September and by Halloween I had started listening to NPR, joined a creative writing workshop, become a vegetarian and fallen in love with a girl who had dyed her hair black and had terrible self esteem. I even managed to have a bizarre romantic - though non-sexual - relationship with my French teacher. The metamorphosis had begun.

While I was busy forming original thoughts and reading The Catcher in the Rye, I figured all my schmuck friends who opted for public school were being force-fed The Man's Education. I bet none of their "teachers" - if indeed they truly taught - listened to jazz! My English teacher had a poster of Frank Zappa on the wall! Have fun in pre-algebra you socially unaware retards! Haha! I took Latin classes while you poor chuclefucks were stuck in Health and Social Issues. Obviously I was a much better person for having spent time at this school. If you hadn't noticed, I was also completely goddamn insufferable.

This truly was an institute of non-traditional learning. However, it wasn't non-traditional enough to not have grades. At my lowest point my GPA was ranked 38th in my class. Of 38. What can I say? I just don't do homework. I realized part of the way through my junior year that if I wanted to get into any sort of college I'd need to get my grades up. But how? The only option I had was to bite the bullet and go to shudder Public School. I transferred before Thanksgiving break and met up with my guidance counselor (something the charter school didn't have). He helped me pick the classes I'd need to graduate. I told him that my old school didn't offer health classes and he told me that my health requirement had been waived due to my late enrollment. Sweet. The last thing I needed, he said, was to be stuck in a class full of freshmen who needed to learn about the dangers of energy drinks.

I reunited with my friends from middle school and slowly found out that public school wasn't all that bad. Did I mention that the charter school was actually in what used to be a furniture store? Well it was. We had classes in an area called "The Fishbowl" which was actually the window where they used to have whatever bed was on sale. We didn't have a cafeteria, library, parking lot, or science lab. We didn't even have a second floor until my junior year. But we did have character. So there's that.

There was one thing the charter school had that the public school sorely lacked: Standards. As such, I was able to skate through the second half of my junior year raising my GPA from 0.8 to 2.4, with the help of some strange bookkeeping on the part of one Bill Schlegel. Going into my senior year, I actually got to take some electives. I elected to take two classes with Mr. Schlegel to pad my GPA, a longstanding tradition at my school for all graduating seniors. I managed to secure a highly coveted spot in Mr. O'Toole's Shakespeare class, as well as a spot in (possibly closeted homosexual) Keith Caldwell's drama class. I drove a 1992 white-with-wood-panels Buick Century station wagon. Life was fucking sweet.

Three hours into my first class of senior year, I was called into my guidance counselor's office. He told me that I needed to take health classes because he found out that he didn't have the power to waive the requirement. When I asked why he didn't tell me earlier, he said he was "on vacation too, you know." What a dick. He signed me up for three health classes. One in my first semester, two in the second. When I asked why I had to take three classes, even though the requirement was two, he said it was "a fail safe, in case I managed to fail one." That's all I needed to hear.

The next day I walked into Bob Peck's freshman health class. Before me sat a balding, middle-aged man in a windbreaker and shorts. I could not have imagined a more accurate portrayal of a stereotype. He started the class by first telling us about himself. He liked SCUBA diving and ping pong, and he used to play for the Canadian Football League. I don't know what position he played, although I'm going to assume it's the extra, Canadian Slotback. I also don't know what team he played for, but I'm sure it was either the Ottawa Rough Riders or the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Also I bet he led the league in rouges scored.

CFL jokes aside, Bob Peck really was terrible at his job. He didn't teach. He didn't do much of anything else, but he especially didn't teach. He hit on all the Brazilian girls and took us to the fieldhouse to play ping pong. His tests and worksheets were full of misspellings. His midterm consisted of us watching Patch Adams and writing about how great it was. Early on I decided that the only way I could possibly enjoy this class without someone overdosing at their desk would be to fail in as spectacular a fashion as humanly possible. I befriended a sophomore girl in the class whose two favorite things were short skirts and cocaine and we made a pact. Our combined grades would be no higher than 15. We decided that the best way to stick it to Peck would not be to simply refuse to do work. If we did, he would be able to just put a big zero on our tests and move on. We would do just enough work so that he would be forced to grade us. We would make it a point to correctly answer one question at the beginning, middle and end of each test so he'd have to read through all of the wrong ones. We also used green ink to mark up his questions, pointing out all of the misspelled words, poor grammar and just to be dicks, split infinitives. After one exam he pulled showed me my test and said "What you wrote... these aren't answers," to which I responded "Well these aren't questions." Right before the Patch Adams midterm Peck sat us down and told us he was "concerned about our progress" in his class. We explained to him that his class was a joke and we refused to take him seriously as a human being.

Finals week came and Peck told us our grades, as well as what we'd need to get to get at least a B in his class. I had a nine and needed to score 133%, while my partner had a seven and needed a 140. This was completely unacceptable. Our combined grade was a 16. We needed to buckle down and seriously fuck this final up. The morning of the exam came and I picked her up at 9:00am. We drove to Dunkin' Donuts to get a hearty breakfast before showing up to the final 48 minutes late, coffee in hand. We did some quick math and determined that I needed to answer five of the questions correctly and she only needed four. We made it a point to leave one of those coffee cup rings on the paper and handed the tests to Peck seven minutes after showing up.

That January we got our grades. She got a seven and I got an eight, combining to achieve our goal of 15 points. We celebrated with a nice dinner and realized after a few other dates that we had little in common aside from our distaste for Bob Peck, although I do have an affinity for short skirts and cocaine.

I went in to my guidance counselor's office to fill out my course schedule for the spring semester. Apart from the other two health classes I had to take (and now pass) and my year-long physics class, I signed up for Mr. O'Toole's Shakespeare class and (possibly closeted homosexual) Keith Caldwell's drama class. When I found out that I couldn't take study hall in back to back to back semesters I took a journalism class with a teacher I liked and explained to her that in exchange for not expecting me to do any goddamn work, I would not do any goddamn work. It was like a study hall with learning!

I've managed to strike a balance in my life between what I learned at the School Without Walls and my time in Maximum Security High School. I still shop at farmers markets and listen to NPR but I've really settled down in the Fuck You Meat Eater department. I also no longer need to remain a closeted sports fan. Self-appointed societal rejects aren't supposed to care about the Boston Bruins or who got added to the Sox' 40-man roster. Once I stopped Caring About Things I was able to find out what I really ought to care about.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hello. My name is Josh and I've been to Ohio. Hi, Josh.

This weekend, Ohio State is playing USC in what can only be described as the football game I'm least interested in this weekend that doesn't involve at least one Oakland Raider. With that fact in mind, it's no surprise that I've encountered more than my fair share of Ohioans this week, all wearing their red sweatshirts and Buckeye hats. This reminds me, of course, of the nine days I spent in Akron, OH and the awesomeness that went along with it.

Late in 2002 I joined a message board for fans of a now defunct comedy website. At the time there were about 130 active members, posting fairly often and keeping things interesting. On this message board I met a beautiful young girl, and we fell in love. We spoke on the phone every night, talked all the time on AIM and told each other about our hopes and dreams, which is what you do when you're 17 and in love. The problem was, she lived in Akron, Ohio and I lived in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, a mere 600 miles apart.

I graduated high school in 2003 and was given far more money than any 18 year old should have at one time. I had the brilliant idea to go visit her and stay with her dad and stepmom. This was, from every possible angle, a terrible idea. This was a terrible idea, and then you need to take into account that her dad was a detective for the major tire producing company in Akron, as well as a former cop, as well as a Civil War reenactor - for the south, mind you - as well as a HUGE fan of the works of Anne Rice. That makes this trip a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Then I decided to take a train. That made it worse.

I decided to take the train because I was young and felt the need to See America. If anyone tells you they want to See America and you have any love in your heart for this person, please make sure they don't. America is fucking boring. It's the Land of Opportunity. It's also the Land of Corn Fields and Amish People. I got on a train in Providence, RI at about 6am only to arrive at my destination a scant 20 hours later. A lot can happen in 20 hours. Unfortunately, a lot of nothing happened that day. I sat next to a kind, older black guy who was genuinely interested in me and my life. I gladly talked to him for a few minutes and he drifted off to sleep. I had put my headphones on and started doing crossword puzzles when I was treated to the worst smell I had ever experienced. It smelled like a corpse had relieved itself onto a rotten egg, mixed in a bowl and dumped onto a white-hot hibachi. This smell lingered for the entire eight hours we sat near each other. I figured he was just old and had nobody left to impress so he had decided to live a life peppered with gross farts to liven things up. He got off the train at 10pm in Pittsburgh, PA, shaking my hand and wishing me a happy and safe rest of my trip. He stood up and on the back of his white linen pants was a spirographic swirl of liquid feces. All of the terrifying pieces had fallen into place. The train stewardess told me that at the next stop we were expecting a high volume of new passengers and I would be forced to sit in his old seat. I refused, explaining that there was shit on the upholstered seat. She put a blanket on it and sat another individual there.

When I got to Akron, I took a cab to her house. I was greeted by a stunningly beautiful six foot tall girl who embraced me. It was almost worth enduring Old Man River and his leak. I fell asleep on the living room couch and was greeted the next moring by a large man and a larger woman demanding I wake up to greet them. This was her dad and stepmom. I introduced myself and was told, in no uncertain terms that if I "fucked his baby girl there would be serious consequences." I assured him that little fucking would go on and he and his hugely assed bride left. When I asked my girlfriend what our plans were for the day, she told me that there wasn't a lot to do in Ohio. We walked five miles to a record store where I bought Dog in the Sand by Frank Black for $10.50, which wouldn't be noteworthy except that I got the limited edition with four bonus tracks, whereas the regular version cost $11. Great math, Ohio.

When she said there wasn't a lot to do in Ohio, she wasn't kidding. Let's look at some famous Ohioans, shall we? Orville and Wilbur Wright are generally credited with inventing the airplane, and they were born in Dayton, OH. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, was born in Wapakoneta, OH, and coincidentally went to the aforementioned USC. There was so little to do in Ohio that these people literally risked life and limb to attempt to escape the Buckeye State in experimental and dangerous modes of transportation. They could have just taken I-76. Other famous people to come out of Akron include Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde who rather than kill herself, moved to England at an early age, as well as "rock" band Devo. Winners, all around. Akron is also the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous. Make your own joke now.

Her dad, despite giving me quite a start when we first met, was overall a decent guy who wanted to show me a decent time during my stay in his fair city. When he found out I liked baseball, he almost took us to an Akron Aeros game, the AA afiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Think about how bad the Indians are. Now think about the players who aren't good enough to make the team. Now think about the players who aren't good enough to make THAT team. That's the product he was going to show me in an effort to make me want to stay in Ohio to make an honest woman out of his little girl. We also went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where I saw John Lennon's report card, the original, hand-written lyrics to the Who's Quadrophenia as well as David Byrne's giant suit from Stop Making Sense.

After a more or less sexless nine days, I went home once again via train. This time the trip wasn't as bad, although I forgot all the food I bought for the trip in her parents' fridge, leaving me with some rice cakes and exactly $1.28 in my pockets for the whole ride home. My trip wasn't non-stop and I got to spend six and a half goddamned hours in a train station in downtown Philadelphia, a situation that could be best described as frightening. I got back to Rhode Island the next morning and was picked up by my aunt and got a ride home from her house the next day.

Incidentally, trains, to this day, make me miserable. Not subway trains, but actual train trains, with a cow-catcher and all. An old man shit next to me on a train. A train took me away from a girl I really loved, who I never saw again. A few years later another girl I was dating regularly took the train from Bridgewater to Boston to cheat on me with a guy in her Bible study class.

That fall I went to college. I tried my best to remain faithful to her, but I just couldn't. In hindsight, I'm much better for not. We sort of broke up right before Thanksgiving, vowing to see other people but still talk every night. She wanted to stay together and proposed to me. I started seeing other girls soon after that, and slowly stopped talking to her. We talked a few more times in the years after, including an amends-making talk we had right before I moved to Los Angeles. I have no fucking idea what she's up to now.

The worst part of all of this is I refused to learn my lesson. I met a few other people from this very same message board with mixed results. I ended up marrying one of them. We live in Hollywood with a cat.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The phlebotomist

It's pretty easy to figure out what defines a person as crazy. They do crazy things. This begs the real question: why do crazy people do crazy things? The easy answer is to say, "Well, because they're crazy of course!" This doesn't quite accomplish anything, as you return to your original point. It's like being asked "How does one saute an onion" and replying "Why, you cut the thing up and saute it of course!"

Nobody is quite sure why my mother is crazy. She suffers from bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and depression. She also has an amazing combination of mind-blowing narcissism and mild dementia, or narcimentia. Her behavior has managed to affect the lives of everyone she encounters in a negative way. What's worse is her refusal to be diagnosed or treated. She's addicted to painkillers and marijuana. She refuses to leave her bed. She's utterly unemployable.

My mom was born in 1961, making her 47 years old right now. She is, I believe, the middle child in a family of five daughters. Her parents got divorced when divorce wasn't exactly a common or socially acceptable practice. She moved out of her father's house at age 16 to move into a shitty apartment with her older sister and she graduated from Barnstable High School in 1979. Having no real plans for herself she enlisted in the US Air Force and was given medical discharge less than six months later. This was likely due to her poor eyesight. Somewhere between 1980 and 1984 she got married and then divorced. Soon after that, she married a guy who she met working at the Christmas Tree Shop off of route 6 near the Sagamore Bridge. He claimed to have no family, both his parents were dead, and he had no friends in the area. Classic drifter. His name was allegedly Steven Christian, and they had a child. Soon after that, he left her and she found out that everything he had told her was a lie. He took off for Florida, where people go to escape their lives when Alaska's just not a viable option, and was never heard from again. She took a few community college classes when I was about six, but dropped out when she realized she just didn't care. Two of her sisters married and later divorced, neither marriages produced children. I was very much an only child until my mom remarried when I was nine and had two more kids within a couple years of that. Being an only child for so long is the reason I'm so good at video games. I also learned how to play air hockey against myself when I got an air hockey table one Christmas but had nobody to play with.

The earliest memory I have of her weirdness was when I was about seven years old. We lived in a housing development in South Yarmouth where they kept all 1,500 poor people on Cape Cod. It was one of those neighborhoods where all the houses were identical and they were clustered in groups of 30, all forming a circle around a communal parking lot. We were lucky enough to have a parking spot far enough away from the driving range so our windshield was only smashed by one stray golf ball in the eight or so years we lived there.

One day a kid in a nearby cluster of houses who was having a birthday party. I didn't know him particularly well, but a lot of my friends did so they went to his party. When my mom told me to go to a friend's house for the day, I told her they were all at this party. I didn't really want to go, on account of not knowing this kid. My mom, however, took great offense to this. Who the hell wouldn't want her son at their party? The nerve of this goddamned woman not inviting me to her son's party even though she doesn't know I exist. One of the problems with living in a planned neighborhood such as mine was it was really easy to figure out what somebody's phone number. It was (area code) something something something - four digit address. My mom called this woman and demanded I be invited to her son's party. His mom was smart enough to not argue with a crazy person, and allowed me to come. When I asked my mom what we were going to give him for a gift, she reached into the fridge and presented me with a deliciously over-ripe pear. When I asked why we were giving him fruit she said "Jesus Christ, I don't know who this kid is. We're not giving him something nice if he didn't have the good manners to invite you to his party!"

Knowing better than to show up at a party with only a pear and a smile on my face, I quickly dispatched of the fruit on the way over to this kid's house, which is to say I ate it. When I arrived, it was abundantly clear I was at best unexpected, and most likely unwanted. There weren't enough party favors or plates, and I was forced to stand while I ate my cake off a napkin. Later, the presents were handed out. He got this weird volleyball-type toy that you inflated by putting a balloon inside of a cloth sack and blowing it up. For added fun one could put a marble or something in there to alter the expected trajectory of the ball. I'm glad my kids will grow up in a world where the only acceptable gifts are cash and iTunes gift cards, because this thing was a piece of shit. After inflating one of the balloons that came with the "toy" and putting a nickel into it to give it a wacky flight path, we went out to the back yard to knock it around. We'd have played volleyball but weren't afforded with a net. When the ball came around to me, I gave it a gentle lob and the bladder popped. We re-inflated the ball and went back outside. Well, same song second verse, when it came around to me it popped once again. I was sent home a pariah. When I got home crying I told my mom the party sucked and I managed to make it even worse. She sat me down and said, "What party?"

In the ten years after that party my mom did a lot of crazy stuff, although none as retarded as that incident. To be totally fair, I may have blocked a lot of them out of my memory. I remember showing up to show and tell with a vinyl copy of The Stranger by Billy Joel, which admittedly is probably his best record. She sent me to years of therapy for my depression. I was a test subject for a drug called Paxil which, when administered correctly helped with symptoms of depression. When the dosage is too high, it heightens the feeling of depression and led to my first attempt at suicide. I swore off pills and continued giving a weekly $10 co-payment to three or four different therapists. One after another told my mom that I was pretty much a happy person and that there was a trigger for all of my dark moods and anger, but she refused to acknowledge that it could have been her. Finally one therapist sat her down and said, "You are the reason your son is angry. I don't know what you've done to him, but all of his problems stem from you." It was like the scene in Tommy when Ann Margaret throws Roger Daltrey through the mirrored window. I was free. I never went back to the therapist because my mom had decided they were all quacks.

She finally got some sort of certification or degree in the fine art of phlebotomy. She got a job performing paramedical exams on potential life insurance policy buyers. Since this involved going into people's homes, she got licensed to carry mace. This led to a hilarious Thanksgiving morning when my youngest brother took her mace and sprayed it into the central air vent of our house leading to a very itchy morning, particularly for anyone who touched their eyes or genitalia. The whizz-bang excitement of freelance phlebotomy didn't hold her interest for very long, however and she quit after a couple years. This marked the beginning of her descent into utter uselessness.

In the next couple years she moved from medical industry job to medical industry job. She worked as an assistant to some local doctors, most notably one whose daughter I had sex with in high school. Apparently my mom didn't know this and kept trying to foist her onto me. She was later arrested on cocaine possession charges and her dad on gun charges. Terrific.

Every day she accused another member of our family of hiding something of hers, destroying her jewelry, "sabotaging" her car. Mind you, if anyone had a good reason to mess with her car it was me. She used the money my dad had been saving for my college tuition to buy herself a Monte Carlo Supersport. Luckily I failed out of college after only two years so I'm only deep in debt, as opposed to being forced to take up residence in a Dickensian poorhouse.

This behavior continued to get worse and worse as time went on. She started smoking more pot than usual. She either spent her whole day in bed moping or left the house to spend money that she didn't earn and our family couldn't afford to spend on things like broken lawnmowers and a new puppy. This, combined with her bizarre behavior alienated her husband from his coworkers causing a schism that resulted in him leaving his law firm to open a private practice. Unfortunately, she refused to let him hire any type of assistant, believing he would sleep with her. Fortunately I was unemployed and was able to help set up most of his electronic stuff like computers, fax machines and the coffee maker.

The worst thing about people who assume that everybody is up to shady business is that once in a while, they're right. She worked as an assistant for a doctor who she thought was hacking into her email and bank accounts to prevent her from figuring out his deep, dark secret. She thought this secret was he worked for an Indian drug running cabal, when in fact he just wrote phony prescriptions for Oxycontin and Valium. When both he and his wife were carted off to jail, this not only confirmed ever suspicion she ever had of him, but every suspicion she ever had of anybody. Every time anyone tried to convince her that she was goddamned crazy, she'd shout, "WELL I WAS RIGHT ABOUT RAOUL! HOW CRAZY CAN I BE?" A stopped clock is right twice a day, I believe is the saying.

About two years ago, I was basically worthless. I was working at Blockbuster Video and made a whopping $200 every week. I lived, like every good loser, in my parents' basement. I slept on a mattress on the ground in what could very generously be called a "room." Cape Cod was hit with a gentle dusting of hurricane force rain and wind, which flooded our basement, and by extension my room. I came home one night to find two inches of standing water in my room, all of my books and CDs destroyed, and since it was a basement, a good deal of mold growing on my now soaked bed. I decided to sleep on the couch in the living room. I was woken up at 6am by my mom throwing me off of the couch and onto the floor, accusing me of being on crystal meth. I told her if I were on meth, she wouldn't find me asleep at 6am, that's for goddamn sure. She told me to get back into the basement where I found a family of mice huddled together in my bed. Not only did I not have the heart to displace the poor mice, I didn't want to sleep in a soggy, mouse-shit-filled bed anyhow.

With some help, I managed to find a free apartment, a job interview and a place to crash if things didn't work out. The minor snag was all of this was 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles. I talked things over with my friends and my boss and decided it was time to move out. I sold my '93 Mazda Protege for $250 cash, quit my job, bought a plane ticket and got a ride to the airport, all within about five days of finding mice in my bed. The Josh Grimmer Farewell Tour was underway. I went to the pool hall for the last time. I went to Wendy's for the last time. I went to my last Cape League game. Then I realized I had done everything there was to do in Hyannis and I had 36 more hours until my flight.

My mom is still on a never ending quest to get free money. She and my dad are getting divorced right now and she's angling to get full custody of my brothers, alimony, the house my dad had paid for before they got married, child support and $100,000 cash. I can't imagine this will go down the way she's planning. She just quit the first job she got in over a year. It was making sandwiches at a hospital for $8.25, part time. Her goal is to get the government to pay her disability for injuries she suffered during her time in the air force. I don't see this happening either. She has tried to sue every one of her past employers for wrongful termination, even though she quit. This is textbook crazy person behavior.

I haven't spoken to her for more than a few minutes in about six months now. It makes me too angry to hear a person act so willingly useless. When she said, "I can't look for a job now, if I do, they'll stop giving me my disability money." That was the last straw. Last week my dad asked me if I was willing to write a short summary of the reasons I felt she needed to be analyzed by a psychologist, I jumped at the chance. I just want her to be well. If this means she needs to be lobotomized or pumped full of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, that's fine by me.

When I sent the email to my dad detailing my opinion of her erratic behavior, it didn't feel great. I felt awful. I felt like I had buried my mom. The crazy woman who raised me is dead. Worse yet, I fear what could happen to me. Is it hereditary? I have no idea what kind of crazy genes my biological father passed on to me. He could be strutting around a log cabin in Wyoming, dressed like Napoleon and evading the men who have been chasing him with butterfly nets in an attempt to put him in a padded room. My two biggest fears are snakes and losing my mind. I've moved to the city so snakes aren't as much as a concern as they used to be. The hard part is making sure that 10 years from now, I'm not sending my son off to a birthday party for a kid he doesn't know with some old fruit in tow. What helps me through the day is they say schizophrenia doesn't set in until you're 25, so I've got two more good years of sanity until I have to really start worrying.