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Monthly Archives: July 2012
Sissy Breaks My LegLeave a comment
If you look closely at the photo above… you will see one little shoe.
That is because just outside of the frame… just outside of the observer’s view… is my little broken leg.
Look at that baby.
The perfect Gerber Cupie Doll mix right?
How could anyone break the leg of such a nice, sweet, little baby girl?
Well… you’d have to ask my sister.
The practically perfect person pictured here:
Only, if you did go to ask my sister, she would probably throttle you. In fact… she would probably throttle me.
I used to tell the story of how “Sissy Broke My Leg” in my classroom each year and when I got to the good part… I would call her on the cell phone, press “speaker,” and let her tell the whole class how she damaged me for life.
She hated it.
I don’t do it anymore.
Because she verbally throttled me.
She waited until she was at my house, vis-a-vis and shouted as she bordered on slapping me, “Why the hell do you have to call me and make me relive something I feel terrible about? Can’t you see you’re causing me pain?”
“I’m the baby,” I said smugly. “You broke my leg… I think you should have to pay for that the rest of my life.”
She gave me “theeeeee” big sister look… the I will kill you right now look… and I never, ever called her during class time again.
My students beg me to…
They do I swear…
But I stop them and shout, “Listen! She won’t let me… and you know how big sister’s are.”
Many of them nod their heads in silent solidarity. (Obviously, having been throttled by big sisters too.)
I don’t know what my sister was thinking that day back in 1966 when she broke my leg… She was seventeen… one of the most popular girl’s at Millikan High School. TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE IN EVERY WAY. Or so I thought… all of these years even AFTER the leg breaking incident but when I told my sister that I was writing this story she said, “Me? Practically perfect? Get real. I used to run around Millikan in my head cheerleader outfit, show all of the teachers the “forged” note from my mom and say, “I have to leave school immediately” before I’d flash them my all-American smile as I exited campus to ditch class with my friends.”
I was actually stunned for a moment when hearing this.
After years of taking the wrap as the “bad sister” the “bad seed” it was interesting to find out that the “good sister” the one who was always “so wonderful” was actually quite a bit of a naughty.
My sister has always been like a mother to me, so I don’t doubt that she had the best intentions when she hopped on her Schwinn Cruiser that day and propped me on the handle bars. I’m sure she thought I would giggle and squeal and love her all the more for it… but unfortunately the short ride went terribly wrong.
She lost her grip on my petite baby body and watched in horror as I slid off the front of the bike, where my small leg entered the turning spokes of the wheel, and snapped in several places before I landed helpless on the ground, caught as if a small animal in a snare, with my tiny leg twisted like delicate ribbon between the rough metal spokes of the rim.
My sister was beyond distraught and ran, frantic for help, to our neighbor: Mrs. O’Grady.
And though they both tried to free my leg, they actually had to remove the wheel from the bike, my leg still ensnared in it, and bundle “us” off to the hospital where the doctors could release me from it’s cruel grip.
The worst part, according to my sister, was not the break in my leg, but the break in her heart, as she held me in the backseat of the car, my little arms raised up to her, my hands opening and closing as I begged for understanding and a hug saying only three of the ten words I knew at the time:
“Sissy, Sissy sweet. Why? Why?”
“I would have preferred you to cry,” she said. “At least that would have been normal. But for you to lie there, like a little Buddha, not one tear on your face, as you asked me to explain in your tiny baby voice why this happened to you… was unbearable.”
The evil baby in me always smiles when she tells me this… I like that I was a master manipulator even at the age of one… assigning guilt and blame a talent passed down effortlessly in my genes.
My leg was “casted” from toe to hip, and my mother was enraged when she found out what my sister had done. It was weeks, no months, a constant barrage of angry words, that my sister had to endure from her parents for that “one” fatal mistake.
But oh… the story gets worse.
When the time came for the cast to finally be removed, I was beyond ecstatic.
They were taking me to see Santa that day for being such a brave girl through the months I had suffered my casted leg.
My sister said she was full of joy, so relieved that finally the day had come when she would no longer look at my cast as the “albatross” around her neck.
They took me from the hospital, straight to my grandmother’s, who was anxiously awaiting my arrival, just one of the many relatives who wanted to witness my full recovery and my visit with Santa.
I remember climbing from the car.
I remember skipping towards her house.
I remember tripping into a giant sprinkler hole and hearing a loud “SNAP” as my leg completely re-broke for the second time.
My sister said that I laid on my back, disbelief engulfing my pretty baby face, before I threw my arms outstretched over my head and WAILED, tossing my body from side to side screaming, “WHY? WHY!!!!!!!!”
Before my father picked me up, a writhing wild animal of a child, a snake ready to bite and hiss at anyone who tried to get close to me.
The next photo you see of me as a child is not a pretty one.
And if I could find it and post it here, I swear I would… but I have a feeling my sister has already burned it.
It’s me, a red corduroy jumpsuit, full leg cast, crooked bangs, a doll wedged tightly under my arm with no head, and a look in my eye that clearly shows that I have changed from a sweet little doll to a demon seed.
A look that seems to imply that I have already suffered the weight of the world and LORD HELP YOU if you try to cross me.
Today… I still limp when tired, the only reminder of that fateful ride… other than my yearly classroom story of how “Sissy Broke My Leg.”
Mr. Stroosma Sets the Classroom on Fire2 Comments
I don’t ask for much from my substitute teacher.
You can ask any of my students: Stroosma’s job is cake.
Silent Reading for 30 to 40 minutes… followed by a nice “book to movie” dvd and his day is done.
So when I left for four weeks in the early spring of 2008 for a Writer’s fellowship in Vermont, I assumed, stupidly, that I could somehow trust that my classroom would run smoothly for the entire time I was gone… as long as I had Stroosma at the helm of the ship.
Stroosma is definitely one of the “beloved.”
A small group of teachers, substitutes, and staff members at Millikan High School that students actually really do enjoy being with…
The kids would be super stoked to have him as their substitute teacher for four weeks.
He’s good looking…
A very talented musician (former fantabulous bass player for the Sea Monsters) and…
My Facebook husband; which earns him TOTAL cool points in my book.
Girls have crushes on him… (and boys too)
Boys want to be like him… (and girls too)
He is “Thee” substitute and the kids know, when walking into the classroom, that “YES! STROOSMA’S HERE TODAY!” and that they are going to have a lovely day of respite from their regularly scheduled teacher.
Now, I’m sure you have already duly noted that I did not mention academics in the above description and this is why…
Don’t get me wrong… academics are important and Stroosma can teach…
But when you’re going to be 1,500 miles away from your students for four weeks… academics runs a FAR distant second to CLASS CONTROL.
You don’t want the Principal rolling around to your classroom every day, amped up because your substitute teacher can’t keep 180 high school students entertained for a 90 minute period… SERIOUSLY… you just don’t.
You need a “show” man…
You need A HEADLINER…
You need a man with a plan that can handle your clan.
And that’s Stroosma.
Sinatra would have wanted him in the “Rat Pack” every day of the week.
So… I spoke to him WAY in advance… because a substitute like Stroosma is always in high demand… and said:
“I’m going to be gone four weeks, and I need you to take my class. All I ask… (and I paused here for emphasis) is that you and the kids don’t burn the room down while I’m gone. Okay?”
Stroosma smiled his little Stroosma smile…
Winked his little Stroosma wink…
And gave me the thumbs up.
“No problem,” he said.
And like a FOOL… I believed him.
Two weeks later I was in Vermont… sitting in a beautiful Victorian house, content in my warm room, looking out the large bay window at the snow falling gently all around me, as I typed out the first full draft of my novel.
The view… serene…
The icy river… crystal crisp.
The rolling snowy hills… the water wheel of the old red mill.
I couldn’t ask for more of a picture postcard moment if I had planned it with God himself when suddenly… it was like a text bomb went off on my phone.
There must have been 30 alerts within 10 seconds and I am not exaggerating.
My students were bombarding me with messages all of which read: STROOSMA JUST ALMOST BURNED OUR ROOM DOWN. COME BACK.
Oh funny… I thought… look how much they miss me… I smiled to myself… they just love to tease me… such a funny game… Aren’t they silly children…. like I can just magically get back to Long Beach in a blink of an eye…. aren’t they just so cute…
I was sure Stroosma must have put them up to this and I’m telling you, I thought that right up until message number 31 which was from Stroosma himself and that’s when my little warm and fuzzy moment fled my little writer’s room and my brain almost exploded from my head:
HEY D, THE ROOM WAS ON FIRE BUT EVERYTHING IS OKAY.
Now… “WTF” was not even being used in text vocabulary at this time… but if I had been in my right mind at that moment… I would have made it up on the spot and typed it to him.
I called immediately.
I started to panic and dialed again.
I dialed again.
My mind was racing…
I could imagine my students, scared to death after their classroom burned down, all lined up next to the chain link fence… out on the field in a School Wide Fire Drill all because I had left to go to the Writer’s Colony in Vermont.
I was a bad teacher.
I had abandoned my flock.
I dialed again.
Stroosma picked up the phone and I heard all of my students shouting and frolicking in the background… their voices not full of terror and pain but ringing with complete and total joy and ecstasy that they had just had a memorable “event” in their English classroom…
“What the hell?” I shouted at Stroosma. “It was the one thing… the ONE thing I told you not to let happen! Shit… Stroosma!”
My students were suddenly silent… my voice can cut through a classroom even when I’m on a cell phone across the Great Divide and though they couldn’t hear the words… they most definitely heard the tone… and like the well-trained students they are… they knew that when Ms. Wood was going “insane” you better shut the fuck up.
Stroosma was silent as well.
“Well?” I snapped. “What the hell happened?”
“We put a pad thai box in the microwave and then forgot about it.”
I waited… unwilling to give him one inch without more description.
“It caught on fire and the smoke started to billow throughout the classroom,” he tried not to stumble on his words.
“IT WAS TURNING AND BURNING” I heard a wise-heimer shout with glee somewhere in the background, followed by a long barrage of slap sounds and shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhs… vigilantly justice being handed down by the “citizens” while the Sheriff was out of town.
“Nothing happened,” Stroosma said. “Not even the fire alarm.”
I let out a huge sigh of relief knowing that my students were safe, my room was still standing, and my Principal would not be signing my pink slip out of Millikan when I returned to Long Beach.
“Miriam was the one who told me,” Stroosma said.
Miriam… my German foreign exchange student… who could barely hold a basic conversation in English had raised her sweet little hand, pointed her militant little German finger at the microwave, and in heavily accented broken English said… Summ theeeeng ES burn ING!”
I could have had a God damn international incident on my hands because of him.
“You having fun?” He asked.
“Oh yeah…” I said sarcastically. “Great time… getting a lot of good writing done.”
“Okay then,” he said. “Talk to you later.”
I hung up the phone and spent about another 45 minutes retrieving text messages from students who wanted me to know that they loved me, missed me, and thought everything that had just happened was super funny…
I sat back in my chair and watched the clock… as I pictured my classroom back home… sad that I was minutes away from the actual Vermont Ben and Jerry’s factory… and I had none of the children I loved with me….or Stroosma… to go eat some ice cream with and enjoy a good laugh over the day’s event.
An Awkward Moment with Axl RoseLeave a comment
When my X and I were dating, he was in the middle of a meteoric rise to what I considered at 21 to be “fame” in a former punk band turned heavy metal riot rock band.
Tours went from playing with local Orange County and Los Angeles punk favorites to playing with Guns and Roses in venues that held well over a thousand spectators as GNR was about to reach their peak in the late 80’s … early 90’s.
When I tell my students the stories of these days, they look on with a sort of adoration mixed with total disbelief. They can’t imagine me in THAT setting. It’s not exactly that they can’t believe that I ever had a life… I’m pretty open, as a teacher, about sharing stories on living that I believe may help to educate or inspire “better choices than I made” decisions in my students.
But… they picture me now: no make-up on, hair pulled back in a pony tail, conservative clothing, a picture of maternal warmth, and find it hard to believe there was ever a: nightclub make-up, big haired vixen, scantily dressed, sex kitten hidden somewhere inside of THAT teacher’s body… and you know what?
That’s really a good thing.
You don’t NEED high school students thinking of you that way. You need high school students to see you as Mrs. Stay-Puff Marshmallow and keep the lines drawn firmly in the sand, wait strike that… CEMENT… as you grade their essays with a bright red marker and give them demerits for chewing gum or sleeping in class.
SUCH a meany!
I do however, like to shock them with my past every now and then… and watch as they cock their little heads to the side, their confusion just so palpable and adorable as they try to make meaning from the oxymoron they are actually looking at: The Cool Rocker Stay-Puff Marshmallow Teacher known as…Ms. Wood.
You can hear their little brains ticking…
It doesn’t fit…
That just doesn’t make sense…
I smile just to think of it.
I was in my early 20’s when my X’s band was moving it’s way through the Los Angeles Rock Scene… my X was very handsome… in an animalistic sort of way… dark, beautiful gold eyes, growling voice, women loved him or should I say, fantasized about him, and although I was very street smart at the time, I was very naive when it came to love… I honestly believed that I would be the only woman he would have eyes for as he rose to stardom.
He tried… don’t get me wrong… X did love me.
But if you know anything about Guns and Roses in the late 80’s early 90’s then you know that women… at the shows and on the road… were abundant and that ANY band touring with them would be sharing in that “abundance.”
I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed this “behind the scenes” rock and roll period of time in my life, but really… I didn’t much.
And I still have a hard time reconciling myself to that past today.
On this particular occasion though… it was not X’s women or X’s drug addiction getting under my skin… it was Axl Rose.
Yes… Mr. Axl Rose.
Mr. Slithery snake dancer, bandana wearing, ginger haired, 80’s bad boy.
What… a piece of work.
I was in college at the time and had gotten in the habit of bringing my books with me to shows.
That way… when X was in the middle of sound check, I could sit in the auditorium seats, study for my classes, and not get behind in my work.
I was alone that day, sitting in the theater watching Guns and Roses sound check when Axl took the stage.
Now, the guys in Guns and Roses had already shown some interest in my looks. Probably because I was a baby, barely of age, had jet black hair, white skin, dark purple lipstick lips, and tried to never speak in their presence… what a perfect 80’s girl: attractive and mute.
They would often walk by and smile or wave at me and I always waved back, but other than that… I had given them little attention, having grown up in a world of music where most of my friends and family were already Punk Rock Legends or just “notrious.”
I was mid-way through a textbook chapter on God knows what subject… when I realized that Axl was saying some really dirty words from the stage. At first, I thought it was just some part of a song he was singing… but a few seconds later… when I heard, “And she sits in the auditorium in front of me, reading her books, as I imagine myself naked on top of…”
I looked up and watched as he slithered his way back and forth across the stage, microphone stand in his hand, his mouth seductively moaning out sexual innuendoes to his “chosen” and supposedly so “adoring” audience and I thought… Jesus… fuck… Where the hell is X?”
I closed my books, gathered my things, and exited my way out the side entrance as Axl stopped mid sex-rap and looked at me just as my students look at me today…. head cocked to one side… a bit of disbelief… his confusion palpable and adorable as he watched the oxymoron that was once sitting in front of him exit the building: An 80’s rock chick that didn’t want to have ANY thing to do with Axl Rose.
And there goes Axl’s little brain ticking:
This isn’t happening.
She’s just pretending…
She has to like me…
I wandered off to find X who was eating some tacos with the guys in the band around the corner from the venue.
Of course, when I told him what Axl had done… he wanted to go beat him… this was nothing new (see story about the time I brushed Anthony Kiedis’s hair for confirmation if needed)
But X calmed down and we went on with our evening and enjoyed the show.
I was still out front after the performance, thanking some friends and family who had come to the event before heading back stage to be with X when, I said my goodbyes, flashed my backstage pass, and headed down the narrow hallway to the Green room.
Unfortunately, as I rounded the first corner, I came face to face with not only Axl Rose but David Lee Roth.
My first thought was one of shock.
David Lee Roth always looked so sexy in his videos but I had never seen Van Halen perform live… never seen David live.
He was shorter than I had imagined… a bit chubby at the time… and his hair, though still long, was thinning on the top giving the appearance of a balding mullet.
I wasn’t sure how to react.
Here were two internationally known sex symbols standing in the hallway of this venue, and I felt like I was in the Ozarks about to hear the theme song of, Deliverance, begin to rise in the background as I was begged to play the “little piggy” game with both of them.
It was horrible.
Axl was leaning into the corner of the turn… sweaty from his set and smirking at the fact that I was going to have to make my way past both of them by squeezing through the middle of their conversation.
I knew that either way I turned… I was in trouble…
If I was face to face with Axl as I passed by… he would just say a bunch of dirty things and try to get me to want him… and if I was face to face with David Lee Roth… Axl would grab my ass while I had to think of something nice to say to David about my admiration for his talent… while trying to ignore the thin, balding mullet and Axl’s creepy little hands on my butt.
It was definitely a rock and roll gauntlet.
I thought about just turning around and going out the way I came in but if I didn’t find X… he would probably come to the conclusion that I was with Axl and then there really WOULD be a brawl… and David Lee Roth would lose ALL of his hair… and it would be ALL MY FAULT when he had to accept his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame TOTALLY bald.
I was trapped.
I decided it was best to face Axl head on and leave my butt for David Lee Roth.
I strided forward with purpose before wiggling my way through the two of them.
Axl locked eyes with me as if he thought that he could somehow “voodoo spell” me into wanting him.
“Like the show?” he whispered in his most seductive voice.
I rolled my eyes as I felt David Lee Roth put his hands on either side of my hips and say in his “comic” goofy stage voice, “Excuse me..”
I almost ran down the last third of the hallway turning back only once to see them both admiring the jiggle and the shake.
I felt flushed with embarassment as I turned the last corner and ran right into X who was talking to Slash.
My face must have registered shock at being confronted with yet another “Gun,” since I was barely recovered from my brush with Axl, and Slash looked amused by my entrance.
“This is D.D.,” X said.
“Hey,” I said as I reached out my hand to shake his, still a bit breathless from the incident. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Oh man,” Slash said. “We all thought you were Russian.”
“Russian?” I said.
“Yeah, the way you look and all.”
Suddenly… it clicked.
I bet Axl thought I couldn’t understand a word he was saying at sound check.
“Ty che blyad?”
X of course was just pleased that GNR thought that he was dating the hot foreign chick and I wondered if I might be able to keep the farce going by practicing a thick Russian accent and learning a good selection of Russian vocabulary. That way, I could basically make my way through the Rock World without talking to any of the key players if I didn’t want to… the thought of it was quite enticing…
“Ready to go?” X asked as he wrapped his arm around my waist.
“Nice to meet you,” I said to Slash as X grabbed his guitar case.
He lead me back down the small hallway and I watched as both Axl and David stepped aside for him.
“Good show,” X said as we walked by.
David shook his hand, Axl gave him a nod… and I just kept stepping… no turning around…. no looking back….
Begging Lexi to Bring Ray Charles to the House for a VisitLeave a comment
You would have thought I had asked to have dinner with the President of the United States.
You would have thought that I had asked to be the first woman to go on the Mission to Mars.
I don’t really understand why Lexi seemed so bent… my daughter who once burned past my house, a dead body in the back of the hearse and Ozzie Osbourne blasting from the speakers.
It was Ray Charles for Christ’s sake.
Look at the photo of Ray that I posted above.
Does he seem like a man that would have a problem coming over to our house and having a little visit and photo-op with mom?
I don’t think so.
From what I know about Ray Charles he was quite the ladies man… I’m sure Lexi with her playboy body and quick wit could entice him to come to the house.
Okay… so yeah… he was dead.
I know that.
I’m not being disrespectful here.
I just wanted to pay homage to Ray and Lexi was about to be his driver.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be taking him to his final resting place mom,” she whispered into the phone. “I think I’m the one… but I don’t know for sure yet.”
“Well, you have to get Ray,” I demanded. “He’s one of my all time favorites and I never got a chance to meet him.”
“I thought you did,” Lexi said.
“No, that was B.B. King.”
At this point I became annoyed. “It doesn’t matter who I’ve met bring Ray by the house.”
“Jesus,” Lexi said. “It’s not like I can just swing by with Ray and open up the casket so you can take a photo with him.”
“Why not?” I asked. “Ray won’t mind and if you put on his glasses, it will look like we were just having a lovely little chat while he was still alive.”
“You’re out of your mind,” she said, her tone full of disbelief.
“Bring Ray to me,” I shouted. “You bring Ray Charles to our house or you don’t come home.”
She mumbled under her breath… something that sounded like “Totally out of your fucking mind…” before she hung up on me.
I ran to the bathroom and freshened up.
I wanted to look my best for Ray.
I brushed my hair and put on my favorite dress before sitting out on the porch steps with my camera and imagining my time with Ray.
I wondered if Lexi would let me prop him up on the piano bench.
I could put a lit cigarette in the ashtray and a highball glass next to it.
I could stand behind the piano… leaning over it casually… sharing a private moment with Ray… a bit of a giggle really as he played me one last song.
“What are you doing?” Dylan asked as he looked out the door and saw me daydreaming.
“Waiting for Ray Charles to drop by,” I said.
“Didn’t he just die today?” Dylan asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Lexi’s going to bring him over… just for a short visit.”
“You’re out of your mind.”
“That’s what Lexi just said,” I told him.
“You know they’re making a movie about his life,” he said. “Why don’t you just go watch that when it comes out.”
“That’s not the same as having Ray over,” I fussed. “I mean really Dylan. You know that.”
At this point… Dylan rolled his eyes and walked away.
Every time I heard an engine come close to our house I sat up straight, excited that I was about to be with Ray and each time it wasn’t him… my hope would fade.
Then… the phone rang.
“Listen,” Lexi said. “I know how much you wanted to meet him… but you can’t meet Ray. I’m sorry,” she said. “But he won’t be coming over.”
It was horrible.
Forever kept from me by my own child.
“Fine,” I said and hung up the phone in a huff.
I sat there for a moment… my hopes crushed… my heart…broken.
I pictured Ray in heaven, stopping mid-song, disappointed that our visit never happened. I mean really… why wouldn’t Ray want to meet me?
Well HELLO to The Netherlands and Venezuela! THANKS FOR READING THE BLOG!Leave a comment
Thanks for Reading!!!! : )
Steve Soto coins the phrase “Dramatacus” which sparks a semi-serious conversation at 3amLeave a comment
Let me start by saying Steve Soto swears he coined this phrase… and I’m okay with giving the sassypants credit but, if someone has a “beef” with it… take it up with Soto… he’s somewhere in Europe right now hosting a “sausage fest” (his words…. not mine) as Punk Rock’s favorite nice guy in his band The Adolescents.
I wish I had coined that phrase…
NOT “sausage fest…”
I really do.
Steve was brilliant to think of it and now… it is one of my favorite non-words, that HAS become a word, and I pray that someone will add it to Webster’s Dictionary next to GIANORMOUS… and SWAG.
Now… I’m sure we can agree, that we have all been guilty of being a “Dramatacus” at some time in our lives… yes that’s right people…. each and every one of us… don’t even try to deny it.
And…anyone that knows me… knows… that I can definitely be the BIGGEST “gladiator” of dramatic play when provoked…
or sometimes… just because I’m bored.
Being a high school teacher alone cranks the drama-meter off the chart on a daily basis:
“Ms. Wood, so-and-so… told so-and-so… that I was pregnant with so-and-so’s baby.”
“Ms. Wood, so-and-so… likes so-and-so… but I’m SO in love with so-and-so… I don’t know what to do.”
“Ms. Wood, so-and-so… told so-and-so… that I was the one that crapped on the floor in the locker room and now so-and-so won’t ask me to Prom.”
See what I mean?
Now, add in a daughter that likes to pick up dead bodies for a living…
A son who is a cross between Phil Spector and Brian Eno…
An X who is working on years of recovery… (a Dramatacus in his own right) that’s at the house once a week playing music in the garage…
Throw in a couple of band projects, book projects, and a few sober bad boys in need of reform… and you’ve basically got yourself a “Circus Maximus” of Dramatacus fun.
Now at times… I really like being a Dramatcus… it amps up life…. and adds to the excitement…. but when you are in a relationship with someone… it’s really not a good thing.
You basically go from being their beautiful statue on a pedestal, their reason for living…. to a ROYAL PAIN IN THE ASS in a matter of minutes.
And the worst thing is… you just can’t stop yourself…
It’s like you’re possessed…
You know you are acting like a total idiot…
That you are making the situation worse…
That you are the engineer of your own train wreck….
But you just keep going…
People could be running from you… screaming in terror… looking back over their shoulder at you as if you are GODZILLA about to destroy them… and yet you will still chase them on and INSIST that you MUST EXPLAIN WHY YOU ARE BEING A DRAMATACUS… which only makes them run faster and further as they pray to God that he will “EXIT” you from their life FOREVER.
So it was while Steve and I were both dealing with major emotional upheavals in our worlds…. and trying VERY hard not to both go into Dramatacus mode at the same time… that we started having our “late night” phone conversations.
Problem is… “late night” to me is around 9 pm, especially on a school night…
And “late night” to Steve Soto is somewhere around 3 am.
We fixed the problem by meeting somewhere in the middle with Steve texting around 11 pm with an “Are you up?” message and if I was… I would call and we would chat.
Now I have known Steve for years… and he has always been able to make me laugh… but one night when I was on the phone howling over someone who I felt had “wronged” me and reading him an email from this person that had caused me to be terribly upset… he stopped and asked,
“Wait… was their sex involved in this relationship?”
“No,” I said quietly.
“You guys weren’t like going out right?”
“No,” I said quietly again.
“Well, that seems like a LOT of drama for a non-sexual relationship.” He paused for a moment and then said, “What a Dramatacus.”
It stunned me…
He stunned me…
What a wordsmith.
I was impressed.
I knew that he was speaking about the person in the email… that they were being a Dramatacus in writing… but it stopped me long enough to recognize how DRAMATIC I was being about the entire situation as well.
I was being totally ridiculous.
Someone expressed their feelings to me in writing… That’s it.
I didn’t need to get all bent about it.
Maybe I could for once just bring it down a notch… which I did… waited to respond… and the friendship survived the episode.
The next day I was out walking with my friend Margie when I told her about Steve’s word and the event that lead up to it.
The day after… I was a bit late arriving to her house for our daily walk…. and as I pulled up…. the text alert beeped on my phone and I saw “McLate-acus” flash across the screen.
I looked up to see Margie… giggling from her front porch.
Steve and Margie really know how to make a point when they want to… in the best artistic sense of the matter.
I hope they add McLate-acus to Webster’s as well.
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Tom and Lexi “Meet Cute” While Picking Up A Dead Body TogetherLeave a comment
A good friend of our family, Bobby Sepulveda, worked as a Removal Driver for several years.
What is a Removal Driver you may ask?
Well… it’s a person who picks up dead bodies.
From Nursing homes.
From the hospital.
From the beach.
From the store.
From parked cars at the football stadium.
Really… wherever you decide you want to punch your final ticket you’ve got someone to take you on that “last call” cab ride home: A Removal Driver.
Now… if you have a problem with dead people or removal drivers… please don’t read any farther.
You won’t like it because it’s about to get good… in a really, really bad way.
Bobby always had great stories about people he picked up.
He called me once from the morgue… and I said, “Where are you? The phone connection is really echoing.”
and Bobby said, “I’m with Donna Reed.”
“Donna Reed?” I asked… a bit confused… not “getting” the big picture…
“Yeah,” Bobby said. “She passed away today and I’m with her at the morgue.”
I felt my face drop.
I had always really liked Donna Reed… ever since she played Jimmy Stewart’s sweetheart in It’s a Wonderful Life, and I wasn’t really sure I wanted my last memory of Donna Reed to be “hanging out” with Bobby Sepulveda in the morgue.
If you knew Bobby Sepulveda… you would understand… I swear you would…. but since you don’t… just picture this…. one of the guys from Jackass in the morgue with Donna Reed.
See what I mean?
It doesn’t really seem right now does it?
Sorry Bobby… but you KNOW it’s true.
Lexi, my daughter, was very interested in working in the medical profession when she graduated high school.
She wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do at that time… and so she decided to talk to Bobby about becoming a Removal Driver.
“Why the hell do you want to do that?” I snapped at her, my own fear of being a Removal Driver getting in the way of my child’s one true dream.
“Because I want to know if I can handle being around dead bodies,” Lex said. “I don’t want to go all the way through medical school and find out I don’t have the stomach for that type of work.”
It was a good answer… A reasonable answer and so… I backed her choice.
Our friend Bobby was happy to get her a job… in fact, I’m sure he was amused… he probably thought an 18-year-old who looked like a Victoria’s Secret model and was often mistaken as a show girl when we went to VEGAS… probably wouldn’t last a day picking up dead bodies… but he was wrong.
Lexi got the job, and reported to her first day of duty wearing a nice tailored black suit.
She looked stunning… a TOTAL GLAMAZON on a mission to care for the dead.
I waved goodbye to her, proud as I watched my daughter drive off to her first job… so excited to meet her “Removal Driver Trainer.”
But later that afternoon… Lexi called me on the phone and sounded a bit emotionally distraught.
“Mommy?” she said.
“Yeahhhh?” I said a bit hesitantly.
“I want to come home and see you for a minute is that okay?” She asked.
“Yeah, sure,” I said even though inside I was really saying, “Oh Jesus God please don’t come home because you’re gonna smell like a dead body or something and I’m gonna freak out.”
But… when you are a parent… you have to make sacrifices and if that means you have to support your child by smelling dead bodies all over their clothing… then so be it.
She rolled in about 5 pm with a good looking young man named Tom, from Boston, and his accent killed me.
I love that South Boston accent… I’m a PUSH OVER for a “Southie” I really am… a guy could be the biggest tattooed criminal from the East Coast and walk up and say something to me all flirty like “Ah Dee…. you’re wicked smaaaart.” And I would probably BEG him to marry me… and run off to be a little toonie… living with my townie… somewhere down around Charlestown or maybe Dorchester hiding assault rifles in my dresser drawer and wildly in LOVE. (East Coast Irish boys being my fatal weakness of course)
Tom and Lexi were just adorable together you could absolutely feel the “spark.”
Their conversation popped back and forth with witty banter that could’ve given Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy a run for their money back in the day… and I couldn’t help but pray that these two would end up together just so I could tell people how they met….
Tom, sweetheart that he is, had brought Lexi home to see me because unfortunately… the first dead body Lexi ever saw… was a pretty bad one.
Now… maybe you think all dead bodies are pretty bad… but I think I would prefer someone who was fresh and had died in their bed over what Lex had to witness.
She walked in to meet Tom, her trainer and soon to be “love” interest, and found him in the morgue with an old guy they had just brought in…who had been dead… for over a month.
He had died about 30 days prior, had been laying out in the backyard naked decomposing… until one of the neighbors peeked over the fence and got quite a bit of a shock… and so when Lexi got her first look at him she said that she actually thought he was wearing a plaid bath robe and then felt like she wanted to vomit.
“He was naked,” she said….
(and I wondered what the hell he was doing out in the backyard naked… but I didn’t ask)
“but his body was all red, blue, and green… with these weird patterns on him from where the blood pooled,” she cried before running over to me, begging for a hug.
I swear to GOD I almost pushed her away.
I wanted to run to my bedroom door and shout, “It was nice meeting you Tom… but Lex is ALL yours now! You two have fun with your dead bodies! Mama needs a nap and a valium!”
But I gave in… holding my breath the entire time… before she pulled back and smiled at Tom while I tried to get a good gulp of air… hoping that their little flirtation would keep my antics from being obvious…
And then watched as she batted her eyes at him and said, “Thanks for bringing me to see my mom.” And I loved it.
I knew right then and there… that Tom was a good man.
Later that night, Lexi returned home… excited and chattering on about how she couldn’t stop looking at Tom… how even over the dead guy’s body she couldn’t help but flirt with him…
and that after their shift was over, he had taken her upstairs to his apartment, which was of course, over the morgue, and they had shared their first kiss.
It was SO romantic.
The two of them… over the dead bodies and the refrigerated body drawers… having a moment while everyone lay there…. waiting… doing nothing really.
And I thought…Ahhhhhhhh…. young love… Nothing can distract it. Not even dead bodies.
Tom and Lex became quite the “serious item” for awhile and I can only imagine how many fond memories they’ve shared retrieving dead bodies together…
But… young love is young love…. and often doesn’t last…
Tom is back on the East Coast now… running his own funeral parlor… while Lexi of course is still out here working on her medical training…
And though Lex claims they are both now “just good friends” I pray often that someday they will end up back together… working as a team… Lex helping people to live… Tom taking care of all the ones that got away…
And me…. sitting on the front porch swing… their children on my lap…. telling them the story of how their parents “Meet Cute.”