Joe and Jack Watch the Baby

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Many years ago when my youngest child was barely two, I left the baby to be watched by his favorite people: His father, Joe, and his uncle, Jack, and went off to my work day teaching the youth of America.

Now Joe and Jack, are both punk rock legends and therefore considered symbols of “wild, reckless abandon” and RARELY tagged as “responsible, mature adults.”

Why?

Because let’s face it: in the punk rock world, sex, drugs, violence and three chord repetitive anthems sell. The only thing the title of “responsible, mature adult” might sell in that world, would be Activia yogurt and Depends adult briefs and I don’t know any hardcore punks looking for those products right at the moment.

Now, one of these men, in my opinion, looks like the devil and… the other one… I believe… IS the devil. But… I well never tell you which one is which… feel free to debate the topic among your companions and friends.

And you may be thinking right now, What type of woman leaves a baby with Lucifer and El Diablo?  Why would she do that?

And my response would be: despite public belief and my personal quarrels with each… they both loved and very competently protected and cared for the baby until one day… things went terribly awry.

Dylan, aka, “the baby” was toddling around the house, as usual, in a diaper, pudgy little feet and hands naked and free, big over-sized baby belly protruding over his diaper, long silky locks of lovely curls bouncing upon his shoulders: cherubic little man.

He was known for getting into trouble but doing it in complete silence. Yes… the baby rarely talked.

He loved to terrify us by striping stark naked, hiding in the neighbor’s bush next door, and watching quietly from the shadows, as we would run up and down the street screaming for him, horrified that we may have actually lost him.

This daily routine left each of us distraught and shaken but, every time we thought he was truly gone, he would somehow magically appear out of nowhere and stand in the middle of the grass staring at us until we noticed him.

It actually took us over six months to find his hiding place: Bad baby.

On this day though, Dylan wasn’t trying to terrorize his parents or his uncle for that matter. He was just running about, playing with his toys when he approached Joe, his father, and said, “Ow.”

According to Joe, his expression was deadpan. He wasn’t crying. His face in no way conveyed pain.

He just kept taking his tiny little dough ball of a finger, touching it gently to the side of his nose, and repeating the word, “Ow.”

At this point in time, Dylan’s uncle, Jack, came into the room to see what was wrong.

For awhile, both Joe and Jack stared at the baby, unsure of what to do until one of them, or both of them, got the bright idea to look up the baby’s nose and that is when all hell broke loose.

The baby had a large yellow, glossy wet, massive orb stuck up inside of his nasal canal.

They didn’t stop to ask questions.

They freaked out and called me.

I was in the middle of my teaching day when the office rang through to my room and said, “D.D. your husband needs to talk with you. He says it’s an emergency.”

I waited for Joe to break through the line and before he had a chance to speak said, “Is everyone alive?”

“Yes,” he answered and was immediately overpowered by the booming voice of my brother in the background shouting, “I’m sure it’s his brain!”

I tried to remain calm as Joe explained the situation.

The baby.

The pointing finger.

The repeated use of the word “Ow.”

And the protruding, glossy-wet mass of whatever was stuck up my baby’s nose.

“I think Jack’s right,” Joe whispered, as if the baby could understand him and he didn’t want to cause him concern. “I think it’s his brain.”

“BRAIN!” Jack shouted from the background, our family legendary in our ability to intensify any given situation by a magnitude of a hundred.

“It’s not his brain,” I said. “Jesus. You two.”

Joe yelled to Jack, “She doesn’t think it’s his brain.”

And for a moment… there was a peaceful silence on the line.

“Put the baby on the phone,” I demanded.

“She wants to talk to the baby,” Joe whispered to Jack.

“She wants to talk to the baby?” Jack repeated.

“Put the fucking baby on the phone,” I said, annoyed at the Heckle and Jeckle shenanigans I was trying to deal with.

I heard Jack pick up the baby, bring him to the phone, where Dylan’s soft gurgly baby breathing, his tiny little coo sounds, let me know that he was present and listening.

“Dylan,” I said. “Tell mommy what’s wrong.”

“Ow,” the baby whispered. “Ow.”

And I could picture his little finger pointing to his tiny baby nose.

Jack carried Dylan away and I waited for Joe to come back on the line.

“It’s not his brain,” I said. “He’s obviously stuck something up his nose and you two are going to have to pull it out.”

“Pull it out?” Joe sounded as if I asked him to diaper an old man’s ass. “How do you want us to pull it out?”

“Get some tweezers,” I said. “Have Jack hold the baby down, while you pull whatever it is out of his nose.”

Joe laid down the phone and I heard a ruckus in the background as he spoke to Jack.

“She wants us to do what?”

“Pull it out,” Joe said.

“Are you sure it’s not his brain?”

“I don’t think so.” Joe said, trying to remain calm.

A few moments later I heard the baby being held down: whiny, squirmy protests… a few baby sobs… then…

“Oh my God! Look at it!” Jack said followed by…

“Dude it’s a grape. Look it’s a fucking grape.” from Joe before I heard the baby cry with annoyance struggling to be let go.

There was another brief silence before I heard Dylan’s fat little baby feet toddling quickly away from the scene.

Joe returned to the phone out of breath, “It was a grape.”

“I heard,” I said as I hung up the phone, apologized to my students for interrupting their class time and my inappropriate use of the “F” word, and then finished out my work day.

When I arrived home that evening the boys were very excited to show me the grape which, I realized immediately, was not a grape, but one of the yellow, golden raisins I had given Dylan two days ago which he had obviously stuck up his nose.

“That’s disgusting,” Jack said. “So that thing was up there for like two days just juicing up.”

Joe looked at me as if I had been the one to cause all of this trouble.

“What?” I said, before grabbing the baby up, kicking open the front door, and sitting down on the swing.

I listened as Jack and Joe squabbled over the size of the object they had pulled from the baby’s nose, while I gently pushed the swing back and forth with one foot… Dylan cuddled close to me… his little head nuzzled upon my shoulder.

I wondered if he would grow up to be like his Father or his Uncle Jack?

“Bad baby.” I whispered, “Very bad baby.” before I kissed him on his forehead and waited for him to fall off to sleep.

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My Very First Visit to Raji’s Night Club: Or… How I Survived Being Woolied and Molested by El Duce and Top Jimmy: Two Very Drunk and Disorderly Punk Rock Legends

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DUCE-1

It was 1985.

I was underage, barely 19, and sporting a fake I.D. the first time I went to Raji’s Night Club.

I was dating Joe Wood, who was already well-known as the lead singer of T.S.O.L. and I was new to the gig scene, just barely starting out with my own band: Gypsy Trash.

Joe was dead set on getting me to make the jump from gigs in Long Beach to L.A. but I was young, a bit unsure of the Los Angeles club scene, and really… a bit out of my element that night.

I had grown up under the watchful punk rock protection of legendary Long Beach and Orange County bands such as: Vicious Circle, T.S.O.L., The Adolescents, The Vandals and being baby sister to Jack Grisham, and then Joe Wood’s girlfriend, as well as a musician in my own right, I was used to being cocooned in even the most disgustingly seedy club environments throughout our “home” territory of L.B. and O.C. due to my connections to the notoriously violent boys of the scene but this… this was different.

It wasn’t that I was naive… I don’t think anyone in our punk rock crowd could have been considered naive… but the L.A. scene seemed harder, faster and I felt like a baby in their world.

I was withdrawn by the time we pulled into the back parking lot, trepidatious as we walked up to the Hastings Hotel, where Joe introduced me to Bernie the doorman, and down right disturbed as he lead me inside to the club.

The front of Raji’s was a thin dark corridor, smoky and dirty, with a long bar on one side, and there wasn’t a single familiar face for me to look to for comfort.

I felt like the perfect idiot 80’s girlfriend: scantily dressed, jet black cropped hair and large doll-like smile plastered across my face, as I waited for Joe to make the rounds of the room.

I didn’t want to seem like a downer or a drag so I tried to act cool. I think I even lit up a smoke, imagining at the time that it made me look mysterious and older, until Joe turned and pulled me close, kissed me hard on my forehead and whispered that he would be right back; he just wanted to find Dobbs, the promoter, and a bottle of Ten High.

He went off on his search, sure in the knowledge that his L.A. punk friends would keep me company until he got back but, being that I was an unknown outsider in their world, they all dissipated in a matter of seconds, moving off to the shady fringes of the room to snort coke, pop pills, chain smoke, or cop a grope while they waited for someone of notoriety and “interest” to walk their way and man… did they ever get it when El Duce and Top Jimmy came rolling out of the back room.

I knew both El Duce and Top Jimmy by reputation only and I swear when I saw those two together, stoned out of their minds, lumbering towards me, I actually felt my stomach drop and my hands turn cold.

I scanned the room for Joe, praying that he was close by but he was long gone.

I would have given anything to have my brother, Mike Roche, Ron Emory, any of my big Long Beach boys with me at that time.

I was trapped.

I looked down at what I was wearing: a tight white and black animal print dress, braless, bare legs, high heels.

I actually ran my hands down my sides in a panic just to make sure I was actually wearing panties that night; something we often went without during the 80’s so that the lines of our super tight dresses didn’t ruin the lines of our ultra thin figures and I was fearful that a small piece of black cotton cloth with strings would be my only defense against these Punk Rock marauders.

I looked at the door wondering if I could get out before they saw me.

It wasn’t an option… I wouldn’t make it in time.

I felt that my best defense was to hide in the shadows and so I backed up slowly against the wall, trying to be low key, but I knew I stood out like a debutante in a biker bar.

Everyone else was in black: black leather jackets, black leather docs, black leather pants, black lipstick, black eyeshadow and here I was, the Punk Rock Princess, with my large green eyes, my fair white skin, deep purple lips, looking like one of the girls from a Nagel painting or a naughty Punk Rock Barbie doll that those boys couldn’t wait to pick-up and play with.

Panic set in.

I side stepped and tried to hide myself in the dark corner but it was too late.

El Duce’s eyes locked on me; a brand new toy that he had never played with, and he stomped towards me, pants unzipped, sweaty large belly protruding from under his ripped black shirt, bald greasy head, glassed over eyes, God knows what drink in his hand, as he snatched me from my hiding spot like I was a rag doll.

He woolied me about and then held me tight until Top Jimmy, distracted by someone in the crowd, heard him calling to him to come across the room and meet his new baby trick.

Jimmy smiled: a big hill billy gap grin with numerous teeth missing from his mouth, and I thought to myself, Oh God… I’m about to be fucked by the punk rock men of Deliverance.

I looked back towards the door, hoping for help, but saw only Bernie who waved, gave me a big thumbs up and a happy nod, sure that I must like being woolied by two of the most notorious Punk Rock Legends of all time but I assure you… I did not.

El Duce and Top Jimmy had me pinned tight in that corner so fast that I was sure my initiation into the Los Angeles club scene was going to end with me being knocked up by El Duce: the most disgusting man I had ever met in the world or tag teamed by the both of them.

El Duce leaned in and laughed loudly in my face.

His eyes were crazy.

My mind reeled through the numerous stories I had heard about him: stories about El Duce and The Mentors sexual deviancy were legendary.

I felt like I was going to be sick.

I’d probably end up with crabs, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, just from him laying his dirty old fingers on my skin.

By this time, Top Jimmy was licking my neck and El Duce was up my skirt and trying to work off my underwear.

The amount of alcohol on their breath, and in the air around them was overwhelming.

I tell you… if I hadn’t been brought up with some of the hardest punks in L.B. and O.C. I probably would have fainted and woke up a victim of “big man” abuse.

Luckily… I kept my sense of humor, and my pretend calm demeanor, as I used my sass to keep El Duce’s hands from going “all the way” and Top Jimmy from covering my body with an enormous puddle of drool as I looked to reach for the nearest Budweiser bottle to clock those mother fucking clowns as soon as I could get a chance.

I felt my skirt being lifted higher.

I pushed El Duce’s face away as I turned to see what was going on with my skirt.

Top Jimmy was now pulling it up from his side and I knew if a miracle didn’t happen quick… I wouldn’t have much longer.

I scanned the room in a panic… praying someone would do something but everyone was completely oblivious to my plight or just accepted that when it came down to El Duce and Top Jimmy: You let them do what they liked.

Just as I was about to totally give up hope, Joe came strolling back into the room, one arm around a large, jolly man I could only assume was Dobbs, and his other hand firmly wrapped around a low ball glass, I could only assume was full of Ten High, acting like he was the God damn Punk Rock Frank Sinatra of the club scene.

I wanted to kill him.

I swear if I could have gotten a hand free from the lecherous grasp of El Duce, I would have clocked Joe with a Budweiser bottle first and then used the broken neck to ass torture El Duce in a night club.

Joe took one look at me being molested by the big men and rushed across the room and knocked El Duce away from me.

I will never forget the look on El Duce’s face: it was as if Joe had just pried raw red meat out of a wild bear’s mouth.

I thought El Duce was going to kill him.

But Top Jimmy loved Joe. He stepped in between Joe and El Duce, wrapping his arms around Joe, and soon… they both had El Duce calming down as Joe explained that I was his girl and that El Duce would have to move on to someone new.

I watched as El Duce clinked glasses with Joe, walked away, heading to the back room, but not before he turned around one more time, staring me down as if to say, Another time Princess, then pretended to jack himself off, flicking his tongue back in forth in a grotesquely sexually explicit gesture, as he disappeared.

I was furious.

Now that El Duce was away from me, I wanted to run back after him and slap his big fat greasy head as hard as I could but I was sure if I tried it, he would chase me all the way to the parking lot, all the way home for that matter, and make me sorry for doing it and so… I held my anger for another day.

Top Jimmy, was nothing more than a toadie. Without the likes of El Duce to egg him on he was soon happily entrenched at the bar with Joe, settled in for a long night of drinking, while Dobbs, who took an immediate fancy to me, babied me the entire night and made sure that I wasn’t left alone again.

I can’t say that it was an enjoyable experience, but it was of course, and infamous one… and a story worth telling.

It’s been thirty years since that night at Raji’s… Dobbs, El Duce, Top Jimmy all long gone now… and I’d like to think that Dobbs and Top Jimmy with his big goofy smile are somewhere off in a musical Heaven; Dobbs telling stories and Top Jimmy apologizing for his sins.

But El Duce?

I’m sure El Duce went down swinging.

Off in some Punk Rock Purgatory on the outskirts of Hell: wrecking havoc and mayhem and I imagine… still loving it.

Saturday July 13th through Saturday July 27th: Ms Wood will be on SUMMER VACATION!

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no swimming

Enjoy one of your favorite posts from the past until I return to entertain you!

And thank you for your loyal following.

D.D. Wood

Joe Wood Calls Me a “C. U. Next Tuesday” Resulting in a High Speed Pursuit with Pro Skater Eddie Reategui

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Ed and Joe

Back before I was a beloved high school teacher, I ran with a notorious group of musicians and skaters.

Basically, a Rat Pack of boys, sure to provide all types of trouble, and as Steve Soto of The Adolescents fame just recently said to me… I was their “Shirley MacLaine.”

But the problem with being the Shirley MacLaine to the Rat Pack, is that though you are a standing member; a band girl that has been deemed cool enough to hang with the boys… you never really ARE one of the boys and so… it set up a musical dichotomy: me on one side…resentful and hurt… the boys on the other…happy to continue on as they always had.

Having grown up with brothers, I had pretty much resigned myself to this “Continental Divide” this “He-Man Woman-Haters Club” until the day that Joe Wood went way too far.

Joe my boyfriend at the time (later my husband) was in T.S.O.L and we were caught up in a VERY passionate relationship.

We were actually known all around town for our knock down drag-outs.

We were the Ike and Tina Turner of Long Beach.

The Johnny Cash and June Carter of the Punk Rock World.

The Loretta Lynn and Doolittle Lynn of the local club scene.

Basically, we were everything that has EVER been represented in volatile musical couples since the dawn of Rock-n-Roll.

You never knew what to expect from either of us and we never knew what to expect from each other.

One day, as we were driving in our old 69 Buick Wildcat past El Dorado Park on our way to God knows where, we got into one of our terrible arguments.

I don’t know how it started but it escalated so quickly, that by the time we turned off of Spring Street and onto Studebaker Road, it was nearing fist-a-cuffs.

We were barely half a mile from the house, ranting and raving at each other, arms waving, cuss words flying, when the light turned red, Joe lit up a smoke, and said, “You know what? You’re just a stupid cunt on the side lines of music and I don’t really give a shit what you think” and jumped out of the car, ran across the street to the far corner, where he flipped me the bird, before sticking out his thumb and trying to hitch a ride with anyone who could get him as far away from me as possible.

I felt my face burning.

My heart was racing.

My mind was spinning.

If I could have floored that Buick and cut diagonally across six lanes of traffic and run his stupid ass over without killing an innocent bystander believe me, I would have done it.

I thank God that neither of us carried guns during our time together.

We were the perfect poster couple for why there should be U.N. mandated GLOBAL gun control.

Trust me… If I had had a gun back then… Joe would be ball-less wonder right now, singing some type of Hedwig and the Angry Inch cover set at Alex’s bar every Thursday night for the rest of his miserable “little” life.

I glared at Joe across the street.

Smug look on his face.

Leather pants and black shirt.

Cigarette dangling cooly from his mouth.

The Devil standing on the side of the road… and I snapped.

Any man in his right mind should know that you NEVER call a woman a  C. U. NEXT. TUESDAY if you want to live to tell the story.

He was gonna pay and good.

I couldn’t wait for the light to change so that I could throw that car into a U-turn off of Willow, and jet over to his side of the street where I could sock him proper.

But, just as I was making the turn, heading across the intersection to let him have it, a cute little 1970’s VW bug pulled up, Joe hopped in, and as they pulled back into traffic, I saw that it was Eddie Reategui at the wheel.

Now I had known Eddie forever, and I knew there was no way in hell Eddie would have picked Joe up if he knew what the hell was going down.

I saw Joe gesturing wildly and then point his finger forward repeatedly and rapidly as he told Eddie to, “Drive! Drive! Drive!”

But Eddie’s poor little 1970’s bug was no match for my V8.

I revved the engine and laid the Wildcat about five inches off of Eddie’s bumper.

He looked over his shoulder, face crumpled, hobbit like fear at the unknown danger he had found on the road.

He turned back and I could see him clutch the wheel and throw a hard shift into 4th hoping that he could out run me.

For a moment… he pulled away and I saw Joe break into a wide grin.

I let them have their one moment of relief before I floored it again, came up on Eddie’s right side and screamed, “You better pull over right now Eddie Reategui or I’m gonna kill you!”

Eddie shook his head no, a scared little shake of a nod, trying to remain “Boy’s Club” looking to Joe for reassurance, a sign that he was doing the right thing, but he found nothing to comfort him there.

Eddie’s not stupid: He knew the minute he saw me on his tail… that he had sided with the wrong team.

I pulled back and watched as in a panic Eddie cut in front of me and made a sharp left turn on Oak, a small secluded street right behind the Los Alamitos Police Department, hoping that the power of my heavy metal would cause me to blast past the turn and leave me having to make up time on Walnut before I could cut back and cut them off.

The VW cornered like it was on rails but Eddie had underestimated the moment.

I made my own hard left onto Oak, pinned the pedal to the floor, blazed past the boys on the wrong side of the street, before hitting the brake, throwing the car into a hard skid, and T-Boning them.

Eddie hit the brakes, his face one of total terror, Joe, no longer the big mouth in Eddie’s ear screamed as their car skidded towards me and luckily… stopped.

I jumped from the Buick before they had a chance to recover: 113 pounds of green-eyed bitch.

Black mini skirt riding up high…

bullet belt bouncing off of each hip…

boots clicking fast across the asphalt… as I screamed at the top of my lungs, “You get your ASS out of that car RIGHT NOW Joe Wood!”

Joe jumped out of Eddie’s car as if God had yanked him from it himself.

I stared him down.

Hell hath no FURY like a women called a C. U. Next Tuesday.

My eyes could have burned through his skin.

He tried to play it cool…

Strutting towards me as he stopped to acknowledge his nemesis.

He paused, lit up a smoke, I raised one eyebrow and stared him down.

His gaze faltered before he regained a little bit of composure, sauntering the rest of the way towards the passenger side of the car, my eyes following his every move.

I watched as he got in… slumped into the seat, arm extended out the window, chain tattoo prominent on his wrist, Marlboro light dangling from his fingers.

Fucker.

By the time I turned back to give Eddie Reategui what for… I saw that he had slipped his car into reverse and was silently edging away from me.

I raced towards him like the cyborg in Terminator, my steely gaze ready to cut him deep but he was gone before I could even get close.

I never thought I would ever see a 1970’s VW bug pull off such a slow Rockford but Eddie’s skating techniques, in the end, boded well for his escape. I’m sure by that time if Eddie had to perform a 360 Hard Flip in that VW just to get the fuck out of there, he would have figure out a way to do it.

He raced off and out of my general vicinity, happy, I’m sure, to leave with his balls intact and arrest free before the police station caught onto the insane domestic dispute going on outside of their main building.

I stomped back to the car and threw myself into the seat.

“Are you out of your fucking mind?” I screamed.

Joe took a deep drag off his smoke and blew it into my face.

My eyes narrowed.

“Go ahead,” I whispered. “Say it again. I dare you.”

I waited.

My gauntlet thrown down.

Neither of us blinked.

I watched as his gold eyes glared into mine before his stonewall expression was betrayed by a slight twitch.

“That’s what I thought,” I said as I threw the car into gear, spun the back tires hard, and roared down Oak Street for home.

Joe Screams Like a Girl when Confronted with Aliens in the Gauntlet of our Hallway

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Fire In The Sky2

During the late 80’s early 90’s there was a huge resurgence of alien movies and Joe, my ex-husband, was obsessed with most of them.

But, Communion freaked him out so badly, that he actually became terrified of extraterrestrial beings.

When alone, at night in our house, and our house was a big dark house… he would often let his imagination get the better of him and believe that around each corner these guys were lurking:

comalien2-thumb

And that they would gang up on him and do this:

fire-in-the-sky

I can’t say that I did anything to reassure him otherwise.

Like the rest of the members of the Grisham family, I have quite a penchant for childish yet evil practical jokes and so… I often times would listen to Joe rant on, as he smoked a cigarette on the porch swing, his eyes sketchy, sure that he had just seen a little scary man eyeball him from behind one of the large neighborhood trees… before I would look over his shoulder and shout, “Joe! Watch out! He’s after you!” Taking great joy in watching him scream and squirm before running pell-mell into the house to hide.

I have to admit, there is something very pleasurable about watching a big, dangerous man that looks like the devil, scream in fear.

So much so…. that when Fire in the Sky came out on pay-per-view cable, and Joe wanted to stay up late night and watch it, I knew beyond a doubt that this would be the time to pull one of my best pranks ever.

I had already seen the movie, caught on a flight back from Nashville, and watching it on the airplane, mid-day, drunk on gin and tonics, made it seem almost comical more than terrifying.

But I could see that in the stillness of a great, dark house, how the mood and music of the film, could weigh heavy on your soul and lead you to believe that things were going bump in the night.

I told Joe I would be happy to stay up and watch it with him, even though I had already seen it, and so, we settled in, Joe in the blue recliner by the stairwell and me in the black recliner by the far wall.

I watched as Joe’s eyes grew large, his mouth turning into a small little terrified “O” shape.

The dark wood paneling of the room….. the large glass sliding doors reflecting images of pale white aliens all around us… the cold drafts of the old house blowing under the closed doors… the creaking of the beams… had Joe curled up tightly in his chair.

He was almost in the fetal position as he absorbed every moment of the film… his gaze barely lifting from the screen… only from time-to-time looking to me for some sort of maternal reassurance and still… he couldn’t stifle his weird “Oooooo! OOOOOOooooooos” a sound somewhat a combo of a siren and a guttural growl type of scream… each time a new and unique creepy little man appeared.

I tried not to giggle each time he reacted.

His dark hair spiked up wildly all about his head.

His heavily tattooed arms covered in skeletons, demons, and dragons.

A living oxymoron in my family room.

It was hard to keep a straight face.

I pretended to be just as terrified as him, by the idea of being captured by a small little man, saran wrapped and anally probed but it just somehow didn’t work for me.

I always wondered why Christopher Walken’s character in the film, didn’t just take a bat and “swing away” like Joaquin Phoenix in the film Signs.

They were little guys!

Christopher Walken, creepy in his own right, should have been able to take ’em!

We were about thirty minutes a way from the end of the film when I put my prank into play.

I yawned loudly several times before I got up from my chair, walked over to kiss Joe on the forehead, and told him that I was just too tired to finish the film.

He looked at me in total disgust.

“I know you’re gonna hide somewhere and scare me,” he said.

I smiled lovingly.

“Don’t be silly,” I kissed him on the head again and brushed back his hair. “I wouldn’t do that.”

He glared at me… he knew a fake when he saw one.

I walked away from the living room, and hid behind the kitchen bar, way back in the corner between two bar stools.

I knew that if I just stayed there, I would be able to trap him in the “gauntlet” of the small hallway and hopefully make it near impossible for him to open the hall door in time to get away.

I snickered to myself as I breathed quietly and waited.

“I KNOW YOU’RE  HIDING!” I heard Joe yell from the living room.

I stifled a giggle and held my breath.

A few minutes later I heard him again.

“D.D.” he shouted. “Knock it off! I know you’re over there.”

I didn’t move.

I didn’t breath.

I waited and sure enough, the grandfather clock soon struck 11:45 and fifteen minutes had passed, and Joe had forgotten all about me.

By midnight, the film was over, and I heard Joe rise to turn off the TV.

I realized at that moment, there was only one light left on in the house: the laundry room light on the far side of the kitchen.

Joe would have to pass me to turn it off before going to bed and if he looked in my direction, my prank would be ruined.

I pressed my body deep into the shadow of the corner and watched as he walked bravely past me, head held high, to turn off the laundry room light and walk the very short distance from the kitchen to the front hall, alone… in the dark.

He made his way into the small room and I took the opportunity to creep out of my corner quietly and hide against the wall by the front door.

Once he turned off the light, I would be completely hidden in the darkness and Joe, his eyes not yet adjusted to the night, would be completely defenseless.

The house went black.

I dropped quietly to my knees and waited for his footsteps to approach.

Once he passed by the front door, I waited for him to be trapped in the small closed cult-de-sac that the front wall of the house, the closed hall door, and the small half-wall separating the passage way from the living room created, and knew that he was screwed.

I made a horrific high pitched gurgling noise… and grabbed at Joe’s legs.

He rushed forward and ran face first into the closed hallway door: It was a loud and terrible crash of a sound.

I reached for him again, this time barely nipping at his heels as I gurgled some more.

He shrieked in misery… it was a banshee of a howl.

He kicked and clawed at the closed hall door, crying out as he tried to basically climb the wall and find solace from the monsters, somewhere up high in the corner of the ceiling.

It didn’t work.

He screamed again and threw himself backwards into the wall, smashing a framed antique photograph of a long deceased family member before dropping like a lump, into the corner of the small space, as the upstairs stairwell light suddenly flashed on and my mom screamed,  “YOU KIDS STOP THAT GOD DAMN RUCKUS DOWNSTAIRS!”

Now at this time, Joe and I were already way into our late 20’s but… the sound of my mother’s voice on the stairs stopped us COLD… as if we were two naughty little children.

For a moment, we stayed silent in our solidarity.

We waited.

She stood at the top of the stairs, assessing the situation, deciding if she would come down the steps and berate us.

A few moments passed, before we heard my mother’s bedroom door slam shut and I began to laugh like a maniac as I slid down the front entrance way wall.

“I hate you.” Joe said as he got up, turned the hall door knob, hit the light switch, and stomped off towards the bedroom in a huff. “I fucking hate you.” He repeated.

I looked down at the floor and saw that he had broken the frame of the antique painting.

“Oooooooh!” I taunted. “You are in so much trouble now!”

He turned one more time and flipped me off before he barricaded himself in the bathroom and to this day… I don’t know if it was protection from me…. or protection from the aliens that lived in all the corners of our old family home.

I got up and readied myself for bed, not sure if my husband would be joining me.

Finally, I tapped gently on the bathroom door.

“Joe?” I said.

No answer.

“Joe,” I repeated.

“What?” his response was sullen and somber.

“Are you coming to bed?” I asked sweetly.

“What about the broken frame?” he said. “What am I supposed to tell your mom about that?”

I tried not to giggle as I gave my response.

“Just tell her you were so afraid of aliens that you broke it in your mad rush to escape their carnage.”

“Fuck you!” he snapped.

I gurgled at him one more time and went off to bed.

Joe and Dave Light the Street on Fire: A Cautionary Tale

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Joe and Dave

When I first married Joe, he was the lead singer for a well-known punk rock band and Dave Mello, was his best pal and his new bass player.

They were always together making surf boards, surfing, working on cars, having their little “bromance” and as any good wife knows… it is a joy when your husband has a best friend.

Their “boy” project at the time was a 1959 Ford Fairlane that Joe was in the process of restoring.

He had just had the engine rebuilt at a shop, and he and Dave had the block back under the hood and were in the process of priming the carburetor when all hell broke loose.

I was minding my own business, upstairs in our small apartment across from what now is the Long Beach Towne Center.

I was keeping an eye on Dylan, who was barely 18 months old, as he rode on his favorite rocking horse, which sat sideways next to the large picture window, watching his Dad and “Uncle” Dave work on the car down in the street below.

“Da,” Dylan said which he used freely for both Dave and Dad and just about every other thought he had under the sun in that little baby brain of his.

“Yes,” I cooed. “Dad and Dave are working on the car.”

He rocked on his little horse excitedly repeating, “Da! Da! Da!” as he watched the boys work.

“Yes,” I repeated. “Da. Da. Da.”

I walked into the other room for just a moment, when I heard a sound that any parent knows is trouble: the sound of complete silence.

The rocking horse had stopped.

The baby made no noise.

I paused in my housework and listened before I heard the words “Uh oh” from Dylan’s baby mouth.

Now, I had never heard Dylan say anything but “Da” so that was shocking enough. But the word that followed just about floored me.

“Shit” I heard the baby say plain as day and then the springs creaked on the horse, his feet padded a few steps, and his little hands began to bang against the plate glass window as he shouted “Da! Da! Da!” at the boys below.

I dropped the laundry I had been folding, and rushed into the living room to find the baby now quiet, head leaning against the window, his eyes large and round, his hands pressed flat against the glass, his mouth in a tiny exclamation of an “Oooooooooh” and before I could even start to comprehend my two-year-old’s first full word being “shit,” I saw a large plume of smoke hanging above the hood of the car in the air, and Dave yelling at Joe, “Try it again! But no more gas!”

To this day, I don’t know if Joe actually really didn’t hear Dave say “No more gas” or if he was just being obstinate, but… he completely ignored Dave and poured a large stream of gas from the gas can in the carb before he raised his empty hand in a big “thumb’s up.”

Dave, oblivious to Joe’s actions, hidden behind the protection of the driving wheel and the opened hood, hit the ignition and I watched as a large fireball exploded out from under the hood of the car and blasted into the air.

“JESUS CHRIST!” Dave screamed as he jumped from the car and then stopped short as he watched Joe, gas can in hand, jump backwards flailing his arms wildly as the flame shot up through the carb, ignited the stream of gas coming from the can, and left a trail of fire that blazed steadily across the sky, lighting Joe up as if he were holding a giant Roman candle on the 4th of July and using it to make fiery decorative loops.

“Throw it Joe!” Dave screamed. “Throw the fucking can!”

Joe panicked.

Mouth open.

He looked back and forth from each hand. I could see from even where I was that his rock-and-roll 90’s hair-do, his giant bushy eyebrows and hipster goatee had been singed to a crisp.

If it wasn’t so terrifying… I would have laughed at the comic farce playing out in the arena below but, I knew enough about combustion to know that if Joe didn’t throw that can within the next few seconds he was toast.

“THROW THE GAS CAN JOE!” I screamed through the glass and though he couldn’t hear me… it seemed my urgent need for him to listen had somehow broken the spell and Joe flung the gas can as far as he could.

I saw both boys rush to outrun the explosion.

For a moment it felt as if I were back in time watching two small children play soldiers at war.

They made it to the curb before the can hit the ground and exploded into a fiery bomb that was quite astounding.

Joe did some weird Chuck Norris tuck-and-roll before he leaped to his feet, leaving Dave behind him face down on the grass, as he ran into the building next to ours.

I watched Dave raise his head.

His look… one of dismay.

Joe had left his man behind.

A cardinal sin when in the midst of the heated passion of a bromance.

We all heard a loud crashing of glass followed by Joe dashing back across the street with a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze as Dave smiled, now sure in his best friend’s love for him, as Joe raced throughout the street, trying to right his wrong, putting out large patches of flame, as Dave looked on in admiration.

“Ooooooooooooh!” Baby Dylan said as he watched from the window.  “Uh oh Mama?” he pointed towards the street and then looked up at me.

I picked him up and cuddled him in my arms, glad to know that he was becoming a virtual vocabulary savant from this apocalyptic event.

“Yes baby,” I said as I kissed his cheek. “Uh oh.”

“Shit,” he said again.

I turned to look at him.

“No, baby,” I said sternly. “No!”

I thought he might actually begin to cry for a minute, but then the fire truck rounded the corner, sirens blaring, lights spinning, and Dylan became mesmerized by their brilliance as I heard the boys’ cowboy boots pound up the stairs and then bound through the door where they pulled the curtains closed, dropped to their knees on the floor, and hid low from “the man.”

They watched quietly, afraid to make a sound, afraid they might be seen, as the fire department assessed the incident.

Black 59′ Fairlane: gas trail circling the motor.

Broken glass: fire extinguisher thrown empty to the ground.

Entire street: burnt and black as if some type of car bomb had just gone off in Beirut.

Neighbors peeking from the windows but unwilling to rat anyone out to the authority: the unwritten rule of all good neighbors.

“Shit!” Joe said.

“Shit,” parroted Baby Dylan.

“He said a word!” Joe exclaimed.

“No shit Joe!” I snapped without thinking.

“Shit,” Baby Dylan said again.

“Jesus!” I snapped. “Are you happy now?”

Dave, always the peacemaker, and afraid that I actually might be angry enough to turn them in myself, snatched the baby from my arms and said calmly, “No baby, no.”

I gave Joe a hard look and mouthed the words, “Great.”

Dylan lay his head on Dave’s shoulder and curled his tiny little fingers through Dave’s long hair and said, “Da. Da. Da.”

We watched hidden for the next thirty minutes until the fire department finally went away, sure that the flames were long since extinguished, as baby Dylan slept in the crook of Dave’s arms.

“D.D. did you see that shit?” Joe whispered, teasing me, as both boys started to giggle in silent fits of laughter and tried not to wake the baby.

“Oh I saw it alright,” I said before I rolled my eyes at both of them. “Not funny!”

They sat on the couch, pretending to be forlorn until I exited the room in a over-dramatic huff.

Like any good mother… I let them believe they were in serious trouble, due for a scolding, and a complete disappointment to me.

I went back to folding laundry in the other room when I heard Joe whisper, “Did you see that shit Dave?”

And Dave, pretending to have a coughing attack just so he could get away with laughing like a naughty little boy, giggled as he held my sleeping baby in his arms happy to be in cahoots with his best friend.

Kicking Joe’s Big Toenail Off: A Lobster Tale

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Lobster

I have always been… what you would call… a troubled sleeper.

It wasn’t like Joe, my now ex-husband, didn’t know this going into the marriage: He’d already been quite at home in my bed for several years.

He knew about my walking through the house in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, talking about someone in my sleep whose name was “Mr. Pig.”

He tolerated my hitting, slapping, biting as I slumbered… but I guess when I kicked off his big toenail during the lobster incident…it really was the final straw in our night time sleeping routine and maybe… actually the catalyst of our marital collapse.

We were living in our apartment at the time, and I had just watched a National Geographic special about lobster migration.

I didn’t even know that lobsters migrated and Joe, already queeeeezed out by the large numbers of lobsters migrating across the bottom of the mid-Atlantic ridge, via our TV screen, begged me to change the channel before he totally freaked.

My mean streak however, caused me to hedge a few moments longer, enjoying watching him squirm, before giving in… but I have to admit… it really was an odd and seriously disturbing sight.

There were thousands of giant lobsters, piled together like bright red cockroaches of the sea, propelling themselves backwards at an alarming rate, towards God knows where, their tails flapping rapidly, pinchers acting as flippers, as the line crossed miles and miles of ocean floor.

It was creepy.

I shut the TV off and went into the bedroom to read.

Now, I’m not really sure when exactly I dozed off, but when I woke, I sat up in bed and stared at the giant lobster sitting at the bottom left hand corner of the mattress.

He was startling in size.

His beady black eyes glaring at me.

He seemed to be daring me to make a move, to put up a fight, his pinchers pulsating in-and-out ready to snap off my finger if I even tried to take him.

I knew what I had to do.

I gently pulled my foot out from under the covers and swung my hardest kick right to the lobster’s face.

He screamed as if I had just thrown him into a boiling pot of hot water to be cooked before I heard his body make a large “thump” and land at the foot of the bed.

I was ecstatic!

I had saved my husband from the lobster’s inevitable wrath!

I was Queen of the Bed!

Queen of the World!

And so…unable to separate my sleep disorder from real life, I woke completely to find Joe, writhing on the floor, screaming in absolute pain, confused and alarmed.

I turned on the bedside light and looked at his face: He was bewildered, eyes the size of saucers.

“My toe!” He screamed. “My God my big toe! What the hell was it? What the hell happened?”

How do you look at your spouse and tell them the honest to God truth?

I tell you… it isn’t easy.

I looked at him with my best pouty face and said in my littlest voice, “There was this giant lobster migrating across the bed and…”

His face changed from one of total confusion to downright anger.

“Fuck you!” He screamed. “Seriously D.D. fuck you!”

“But Joe,” I tried to explain as I pulled back the cover and crawled out of the bed to help him, “It was…”

I stopped.

I knew that what I had just seen was about to escalate this incident to about ten-fold in a matter of seconds and I was preparing myself for it.

“Joe,” I said calmly. “Um, I think we need to go to the hospital.”

Joe ‘s face went from anger to total panic.

He looked down and began screaming. “You’ve kicked it off! The whole fucking thing! Oh my God! You Mother Fucker! My toenail is gone! It’s gone!”

Blood was everywhere.

I began circling the floor as if I were Jackie O. trying to find JFK’s piece of head and stick it back on.

“Joe,” I cried, “I’m gonna find it. I’m gonna put it back on. It was the lobster… I swear I was saving you and…”

“YOU CAN’T PUT IT BACK ON!” He screamed as he rolled into the bathroom and kicked the door closed with his good foot. “FUCK YOU!”

It was actually the most “fuck yous” ever used towards me at one period of time in my life.

If I hadn’t been worried that Joe was gonna come out of the bathroom and shank me with the toilet plunger or the nose hair trimmers, I swear I probably would have chided him on his lack of vernacular.

I sat on the bed in silence… listening to my husband moaning in the bathroom.

I waited patiently until he came out, towel wrapped around his foot, one flip flop on the other, a pair of old athletic shorts and a t-shirt that read “Eddie Would Go” hanging loosely from his tattooed frame.

I watched as he grabbed his wallet and car keys.

“Do you want me to go with you?” I asked sweetly.

“Fuck no,” he said as he stomped across the living room, kicking baby Dylan’s Mr. Magoo car with his bad toe, which resulted in another slew of curse words and a wild swinging of both arms, before he reached for the door, walked out, and slammed it behind him.

It was two hours later before he returned: big toe swaddled in bandages, bottle of extra strength Tylenol in his hand and it was two months before I was forgiven for the incident and to be honest… I really don’t think I ever was.

It’s been over fifteen years since I tried to save my husband from the giant lobster on our bed and yet it was just three weeks ago that Joe reminded me, how I ruined FOREVER… his absolutely perfect toe.