Yearbook Class creates a Special Show Flyer for Steve Soto and Manic Hispanic resulting in the Children being Visually Scarred for Life and Ms. Wood Rethinking her Postion on Internet Filters

Leave a comment

BEST QUALITY

This is Yearbook.

The class I am in charge of at Millikan High School.

They are a wild, spirited group and I love them dearly.

One day, excited by the fact that the school had finally turned off the internet filters and had left the viewing discretion up to the teachers, I offered the kids a chance to create a Photoshop flyer for my friend Steve Soto and his band Manic Hispanic, believing that I was giving my students a life experience that would be considered valuable.

Now, being that this is high school, it wasn’t as if everyone jumped up and down and raised their hands to participate but… they did however… begin googling the name Steve Soto and Manic Hispanic happy to finally be unfettered from their technological bonds.

“This is so bad ass, Ms. Wood,” one of my senior editors said. “We can go on Facebook. We can go on Google images. Now we can really get some great Yearbook work done.”

I had my doubts about this statement but they were so excited, so punch-drunk with their new found freedom, that I felt I was in no position to bring them down: that would be like waking up on Christmas morning and finding out that you had received zero presents and Santa had also shit in your stocking.

“Oh,” one of the kids said after looking Manic Hispanic up online, “They do some type of Mexican gangster thing right?”

Everyone looked at me waiting to see if it was okay for us to like a “Mexican gangster” thing in the classroom.

“Well, yeah..” I said. “But it’s like a parody. Can anyone tell me what a parody is?”

Ten hands jumped up.

If we were going to bend the rules a bit… I figured I better find a way to keep the California Content Standards firmly in place while we did it and cover my ass in case someone found our Yearbook curriculum to be lacking.

I listened as they all babbled on about parodies and then I told them what they were supposed to do.

“Steve told me he wants something like Blood In Blood Out for the flyer. Do you guys know what that is?”

But before I had a verbal answer to assure me that they knew exactly what Blood In Blood Out was, a Latino cult classic crime-drama film, I saw twenty little teenage hands hit the keyboards hard and type in the words: Blood In Blood Out and two seconds later, there was a deafening moment of complete and total silence before loud screeches began to echo across the tops of computer stations and fill the classroom.

“What?” I screamed from my desk. “What are you freaking out about?”

I stood up to look at the computer screens and found that each and everyone of them was inundated by photos, photos once highly banned at our school site, now prominently displayed, in full-color glory, on our classroom monitors.

“OH MY GOD!” I shouted as I rushed towards the computer stations.

It was horrific I tell you.

A teacher’s worst nightmare.

A total lack of control.

A total educational malfunction.

Who would have known that the words: Blood In and Blood Out would bring a flood of cancerous anal polyps up on each and every screen?

My students were screaming.

My students were gasping.

Some of them just sat there, so stunned by the visual assault on their senses, that they just stared, mouths agape, at what they were viewing and all I could think was Jesus Christ how the fuck am I going to explain this one?

I knew what I had to do.

I stood tall and put on my teacher voice and said firmly, “Stop what you are doing and take your hands away from the computers.”

Everyone pulled their hands back as we continued to stare… mesmerized by the anal polyps… unable to look away.

“That is so weird,” one of the editors finally said followed by, “Can we Instagram them to someone Ms. Wood?”

Oh my God… NO… I thought to myself but out loud, I knew that if I didn’t act cool about this, they were going to pull out their iphones and start clicking because… that is exactly what teenagers do… when they smell fear in their teacher.

So I pulled out my iphone, snapped a photo of the anal polyps and made a big deal about how funny it was going to be for all of us to send it to my friend Sharla Bafia who was a “real goody two-shoes” and would totally freak out.

They all loved being in on the joke so they sat giggling softly, as if she could hear us, as we waited for Sharla’s response, which of course was almost instantaneous and read:  “WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?”

We all had a good chuckle as we shut the images of anal polyps down and tried to strike them permanently from our memory.

I kept my game face on but inside… I was beyond relieved that I got out of that situation without it turning into a total clusterfuck.

“Okay,” I said calmly. “Let’s try this again. But this time, please type in the words: Movie Blood In and Blood Out.”

Everyone did as I asked, with only a sly devious smile or giggle here or there, which I shut down immediately with my most vicious teacher stare.

How’s it going? Steve texted right then.

I didn’t want him concerned about the anal polyp incident, he needed this flyer posted within the next hour, so I just replied: Great!… and went back to watching the students.

And for about twenty minutes, everything was totally calm as they pulled film images off the internet, and all vied to created the best band flyer for my friend until someone shouted out, “What should we use for a background?”

I was typing away on my own computer, not really paying attention to what they were up to once things calmed down, and so I shouted out absentmindedly, “I don’t know… black and gold sounds good right?”

And I heard once again twenty little hands go to type words… this time… black and gold… into the computer… and once again there was a moment of complete silence followed by a series of sharp screams, which this time, was punctuated by a few solidly loud, OH MY GODS!

I jumped, startled, and saw on each screen a large black man, walking two naked white women who were chained and completely covered in gold dust.

“OH JESUS FUCK!” I screeched without thinking.

Each head turned.

Each mouth dropped.

Suddenly, the focus was directly on me.

“You said fuck,” one of the editors whispered.. shocked by the unfiltered internet but stunned by Ms. Wood loosing her cool.

“You said Jesus and fuck in the same sentence,” someone else said in a mocking tone.

“God damn it,” I shouted. “Everyone shut down Google image RIGHT NOW!”

They didn’t move.

“I said RIGHT NOW!” I screamed as I pointed my finger at them and stomped my little feet.

Not one student disobeyed.

Everyone shut off Google image and sat quietly.

Really… what was there to say after what we had all witnessed in the last thirty minutes of class?

I wasn’t even sure how to proceed with the entire situation.

I was firmly in the camp of open internet filters in our high school community but obviously… I hadn’t thought it entirely through.

“Liz,” I said to one of my senior editors. “Make the flyer for Steve. Everyone else. Go on Facebook and just relax for a few minutes.”

Facebook: the crack cocaine of the high school world.

Suddenly, caught up in their social networking addiction, the incidents of the class faded into the background.

I went back to my desk knowing that Liz, responsible and capable, would knock that flyer out in minutes and if once again assaulted with anal polyps or black men with naked gold women, would just shut it out of her mind and continue to get her work done: There was a reason she was the number one editor and had a A+ in Yearbook.

She was an educational bad ass.

Once again I settled down… I prayed to St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, and hoped that I wouldn’t have twenty parent phone calls by the end of the day.

And that was when my computer was taken over remotely… by our staff computer administrator: Mr. Rios… who had obviously been trolling for “inappropriate content” the first day of our unfiltered technology school existence.

Having fun with those unfiltered computers in there Ms. Wood? The message read.

I leaned my elbows on my desk and covered my face with my hands.

I had no response.

The jig was up.

He had witnessed everything from his secret post.

I wanted to type back: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Or just the numbers: 1984.

But instead, I just sat there… eyes covered… mentally taxed… and listened to the happy click of my students fingers in the background as they blissfully went on with their Facebook instant messaging… until I heard another beep to let me know he had messaged me again:

Okay, it said. Being that I’m Latino I get the whole Blood In Blood Out mishap and obviously… they are enjoying the whole Facebook freedom right now but…  how did you guys end up with the black man and the naked chained women covered in gold dust?

And right then my phone went off.

It was Steve of course asking about the flyer: Is it done yet? he asked innocently but already worked up from the entire event, caused by my need to please my friend, make my kids feel like big shots by having them create a hip band flyer, and show how totally cool Ms. Wood was in her “alter band world” I so wanted to respond from my flawed shadow self and text in all caps: SHUT THE FUCK UP STEVE SOTO! YOU’LL GET YOUR GOD DAMN FLYER WHEN YOU GET IT!”

But instead… I wrote… Almost done… and covered my eyes again with my hands… hoping that it would all just go away.

There was another “beep” signaling once again a new message from my computer administrator.

Well Ms. Wood? It said.

I had to concede.

And I hated to concede but in this case…. I had to admit that I might be wrong.

I’m rethinking my whole opposition to the internet filters, I typed.

You bet your @ss you are!  He wrote back and then unlocked my screen and let me get back to work.

“Done,” Liz said from her station and I walked over to find that she had made a fantastic flyer for my friend.

“That looks great,” I said.

Manic Hispanic Yearbook Flyer

“You sure you wouldn’t like me to add an anal polyp or a black man with chained naked women covered in gold dust?” she asked.

I gave her the evil eye.

“Obviously not,” she said sarcastically. “So who am I sending this to?”

Five minutes later, Steve had his flyer and was posting it on Facebook, the bell rang and the kids left, and it seemed that maybe they were not permanently scarred after all… And I sat down for a moment to calm my mind and let go of the atrocities of the last hour, praying to God that I would never see an anal polyp, a black man with naked chained white women covered in gold dust, or a message from my computer administrator, in my classroom, ever, EVER again.

Barnyard “Foul”: Dealing with Rupert a Purely Evil Pig wrapped in Cuteness

2 Comments

IMG_2234

This is Rupert.

Rupert is my new pet.

A mini-pot belly pig given to us by a couple who realized they had made a seriously poor impulse purchase.

They had a backyard entirely of cement.

A front yard with no fence.

Both had full-time jobs and so leaving the little three-month old piggy man in the house all day while they were gone was a recipe for disaster.

Rupert is (and this is an understatement) a handful.

But… we were willing to take him from his owners. We had a houseful of pets and I had been hoping to get a pig or a pygmy goat to be friends with my chicken Matilda, for quite awhile and so… within the first week of taking Rupert… I believed I had made the perfect choice: Matilda loved him.

They wandered around the front yard together; Rupert rooting around in the grass making big dirt holes with his snout. Matilda by his side eating all of the worms that he uncovered… a bit like a gang-of-two and we began to call them by their aliases… Ham and Eggs.

IMG_2198

They were inseparable.

But then… the trouble began.

Rupert became comfortable with his new environment and his Prima donna personality began to shine through.

He didn’t like to be touched when outside in fact, he squealed and jumped back each time one of us approached him.

But at night, when he came in for dinner, and to go to bed on his furry little leopard skin blanket on the cool tile floor of the bathroom, he flipped over on his side expecting a full body massage as he smiled, yawned, smacked his little piggy lips, and stretched his little cloven-hoofed legs out in front of him and batted his long piggy eyelashes.

He was adorable… but of course… he seemed to believe that he was completely entitled.

By week two, we realized there was trouble on the horizon.

The front yard had giant patches of grass entirely removed… Matilda’s chicken feed had to be hidden from him or like the pig that he was… he would gobble it all down without a second piggy thought and… being that he is a very smart little man… he seemed to know exactly when the clock struck 6:30pm and so… he would  rush to the front door, squeal and bang on it repeatedly until we let him in for dinner and bed.

The sound was terrifying.

Charlotte, our youngest, actually heard his commotion and her eyes grew big as she said, “My God! It sounds like you have a Changeling at the door!”

A White Walker

A Zombie

A Pig Nightmare.

Rupert.

Or as my good friend Warren liked to call him: a Purely Evil Pig wrapped in Cuteness.

Now… of course my children loved to post photos like this on Instagram:

IMG_2522

Fooling you into a false sense of pig security as you say to yourself, “Awwwwwwwwww. How sweet! That Rupert is just the cutest little thing! D.D. must be exaggerating in this story.”

But I tell you, he is the devil.

The other night, I wouldn’t let him in a half-an-hour early for dinner and as I stood in the laundry room, getting ready to turn on the dryer, I heard a loud crashing sound from the front yard.

Afraid that something serious had happened, I rushed to the front door, opened it, and there I saw Rupert, his little piggy legs spread apart in a stance of defiance, his snout held high, one of my prized ceramic gnomes now decapitated and lying severed; body on one side… head on the other… across the front walkway.

IMG_2531

“Rupert?” I asked. “Did you do that?”

He wiggled his little piggy nose, pushed the decapitated head with his snout, and let out a loud snort as if to say, “FUCK YES I DID IT! And guess what? There’s more where THAT came from lady!”

I stared at him… he glared back.

I was shocked at the little bastard he had become… and just as I was about to punish him for his behavior by closing the front door and making him wait and extra hour for dinner, Ringo, aka Bastard Number Two, our male teacup chihuahua, ran outside, lifted his leg and peed inside the broken innards of my gnome’s head.

IMG_0128

I watched as Ringo’s urine puddled inside of my gnome’s little broken red cap… dumbfounded for just a moment… before I became enraged that these assholes were actually biting the hand that feeds them.

“THAT’s IT!” I shouted. “You fuckers get the fuck away from my gnome!”

Rupert ran for the bushes.

Ringo ran for the house.

As Matilda watched from a distance, her head cocked slightly to the side, amused to see her little toadies torment and mock me.

“Keep it up,” I said. “You’ll be chicken dinner, he’ll be Christmas ham,” and here I turned to shout inside of the house, “And you Ringo will have your balls chopped off.”

There was complete silence.

No one moved.

I reached for my broken gnome, dumped the pee from his cap and placed his bisected remains into a large flower pot.

I turned on my heel and went inside to sulk in the quiet of my office but not ten minutes later… piggy brat Rupert was squealing at the front door.

“Mother fucker,” I yelled, which didn’t stop Rupert from squealing but did cause my mother to mute Two and a Half Men long enough to shout, “God, the mouth on you!”

Too worked up to even yell at the “Old” I opened the front door and watched as Rupert passed me without another sound and made a B-line to the bathroom where he expected to find his dinner in his bowl.

When he saw that it was empty, he kicked over his water dish and stomped his little feet and THAT… was IT!

I had HAD it!

I smacked his fat little pig butt, and he didn’t even care, he just threw his weight into it and then turned around and screamed at me.

I physically turned him around the other way, as he wailed bloody murder and pushed against me… but I wouldn’t have it… I made the little bastard go to his piggy bed.

“NO!” I shouted. “NO RUPERT!”

He refused to turn around then.

He faced the wall and stood there.. defiantly… ass to my face… refusing to listen.

“Do you understand I won’t tolerate this behavior?”

He begrudgingly swished his tail once, just like a spoiled child who realizes that he has lost the battle but that the war isn’t over yet, and he understood.

I swear I could hear him chanting in his little piggy mind, I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

I closed the bathroom door and went to get his dinner.

By the time I came back… he was rooting about, fluffing his blanket, as if nothing ever happened.

The little shit.

I reached down and fed him, then watched as he licked the bowl clean before flopping over on his side, tired and world-weary from his little tantrum, ready for his full body massage… as if we had made up… and all that transpired was now: water under the bridge.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

He grunted.

I sighed as I sat down on the toilet and rubbed the little man down.

IMG_2224

It was no different than dealing with a tired toddler.

He stretched and yawned and I resigned myself to my fate.

In the morning we would try again.

In the morning we would find a way to make this right.

In the morning, I would go to Jack-in-the-Box and eat a Breakfast Jack with ham and in that way… extract my revenge on Rupert.

Yes my little man.. that’s right…. a BREAKFAST JACK WITH HAM.

Oh Rupert…

My little piggy demon.

You.

Have.

Met.

Your.

Match.

In.

Me.

IMG_2511

Dealing with the Olds: Or How I Barely Survived the “Panty” Incident… A Cautionary Tale in Two Acts

Leave a comment

BIG OLDS

I have been care-taking others my entire life:

My own children…

My school children…

Neighbors, friends, strays, and of course… “Olds.”

If you would have told me in high school… that my destiny was to be a caretaker… I wouldn’t have believed you.

I was sure that I would be the first of my friends to leave the country, and never to return, unless under extreme pressure to do so.

But it seems it is my lot in life, and like Jimmy Stewart’s iconic character, George Bailey… I guess it is my destiny, to leave my nomadic dream of independent traveling behind, and accept my fate: to take care of all the numerous jackasses that reside in my own personal “Bedford Falls.”

Don’t get me wrong… I love my people… my jackasses… but two inappropriate panty incidents with the “Olds” in one week was a bit too much for anyone.

It started with Ernie.

Ernie is one of my father’s Navy friends, circa World War II, who comes to visit us every year from New Zealand where he now lives.

I love Ernie for numerous reasons:

One, he tells me stories about my father, that make me feel like I really know the man that kept so much of his own wild life hidden from his children, as he raised us.

Two, he likes to drink a lot of beer and go out dancing and believe it or not, even at 85… he still seems to have the moves that make the ladies adore him.

And…

Three, Since my father passed away, my mom likes to lay all of her demands on me, but when Ernie is here to stay, she spends her time bossing him around which means… she isn’t bossing me about: it really takes the pressure off.

Ernie is a skinny guy, very tan, white hair, a pretty healthy old man, and he tends to favor those weird fashions of the “Oceania Region” where they are prone to wearing Birkenstock sandals and of course, you guessed it…. sassy black speedos, teeny-tiny little things, as he lays on the chaise, in the backyard by the pool reading one of his many Clive Cussler novels.

I have grown accustom to this sight, over the years, but it is still a bit unnerving at times to know that he’s out there… lurking… in his little panties.

Now, Ernie had just arrived at our house about three weeks before the incident occurred.

Everything had been going as smoothly as possible, considering I live in a house where not one, but now two, advanced elderly people lived.

I spent most of my time… making sure each morning… that they were still alive… and listening for loud thumps… each evening… hoping that it was one of the kids bouncing down the stairs and not an “Old” in the process of breaking a hip or having a stroke.

Basically, it’s like being on 24-hour alert “high watch.”

So when someone began banging heavily on the hall door at 11:30 pm on Thursday night, waking me from a “dead” sleep, chihuahuas barking, big dogs howling, pig squealing (yes we have a pig) I woke as if I were already in the early stages of a massive heart attack: dazed… confused…. unsettled…. my mind and heart racing at an alarming pace.

I jumped from my bed, sure that someone must be seriously injured or dead, ran into the hallway, and found Ernie, in his tight black speedo underwear, blood dripping down his arm, yelling my name.

I was about to totally freak out when he said, “You don’t have a band-aid do ya? I fell out of bed having a dream, about pulling my brother out of a porthole from a sinking ship, and pulled some of the skin off my arm.”

I swear, I almost throttled him to death right then and there.

I couldn’t believe that he had woke me up, by banging repeatedly on the hall door, at 11:30 at night, as if it were a LIFE OR DEATH situation for a fucking band-aid.”

But I held it together and in my kindest voice said, “Hang on Ernie, let me find you one.” And then I directed him to wait for me at the kitchen bar, because if I don’t give him specific directions, he follows me about which, is actually how he accidentally saw me completely naked the previous week, by following me into the bathroom before I realized he was doing so.

I closed the hall door and gathered my composure.

I called Dylan, my son on the phone and said, “Are you upstairs?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

“Well can you come down here please. Ernie just woke me up for a band aid.”

Silence.

“Why did he wake you up for a band aid? I was awake and up here. What was he thinking?” He asked.

“I don’t know!” I screamed; unfortunately verbally kicking Dylan since I was unable to take my wrath out on Ernie. “I don’t know why OLDS do what they fucking do. Just come down and bandage the old man so I can go back to bed. I’ve got work in the morning.”

Two seconds later, Dylan was downstairs bandaging the old man and I was back in my bed, trying to calm down enough to hopefully get a few hours sleep.

But I tossed and turned until my alarm went off at 6 am and so, still twisted and tired from my “late night fiasco,” grumpy and bitter, jumped up from the bed, put on my slippers and rushed to let the pig out into the yard for the morning and let my chicken out of her coop (yes, we also have a chicken) before I would have to get to school on time. But… as I opened the front door, I was assaulted, yes once again, by an OLD.

There… out in the bright morning light for all the neighbors to see was my 85-year-old mother, bra-less in a tank top, barefoot and leaning on her cane, bent WAY over low, in her GIANT silky grandma panties, butt crack CLEARLY visible through the silky fabric as she struggled to let my chicken out of her cage.

I tell you it was a once in a lifetime sight that no one should ever have to view.

I actually backed up and gasped.

“Jesus Christ!” I screeched. “What the hell are you doing?”

She didn’t even stand up. She just looked at me from between her legs.

“Letting the chicken out.”

“Mom!” I shouted. “Do you realize that you are out in public, basically naked. The neighbors are going to call Adult Protective Services and take me away!”

“Well, now wouldn’t that be funny!” she said.

I felt myself fuming.

I wanted to grab that cane, topple that old woman, and pop her in the coop.

Now, now, now… I thought to myself… wouldn’t THAT be funny old woman?

But instead, I backed away from the scene and turned around to find Ernie waving at me from the reclining chair. Looking chipper and perky with his morning coffee and his Clive Cussler novel and his little arm all bandaged up with our spiffy pop-culture red band-aid that said “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.”

“Mother Fucker,” I whispered to myself. “Sweet Jesus for the love of God somebody help me please.”

But no help arrived.

No one there to listen.

Just a pig.

Just a chicken.

Just an old skinny man.

Just an old woman.

And me.

Sweet Jesus, obviously smart enough to stay miles away from this scenario, enjoying the view from above.

Ms. Wood Goes on a Bike Ride Ending in an Unexpected Police Chase and a Sudden Realization for Mr. Warren Renfrow.

Leave a comment

COPKIDNEWWARREN

I am new to the world of cycling.

In fact, I have only been on my bike a couple of times.

But, it seems that most of the musician men friends I know, are all about riding bicycles these days: R. Scott, Darryl Mitchell, Mike Martt, Johnny Minguez, Steve Houston and Warren Renfrow, all former or current members of well-know bands, participate in cycling and though I haven’t seen them all in action yet… I have noted an alarming number of them wearing tight little spandex pants and helmets with strange points on the back.

Now, these are not men who look like the men from the Tour de France… who look like they should be wearing spandex swag… these are big burly tattooed men… blue collared Blutos… rough and tough … and to see them sporting their delicate little panties and day-glow race helmets is frankly… a bit disconcerting.

But having grown up with brothers and raised in a houseful of an endless parade of boys during the 1970’s… where I longed to be the girl version of Evil Knievel… in on all of their ramp jumping fiascos… I find myself drawn to ride with them… ride fast….. and really… if I’m truly to be honest… kick their fucking asses all over the bike trail.

It’s a competitive thing… a feminist thing… but I honestly never planned to get the Seal Beach Police Department involved in my Battle of the Sexes “vendetta.”

It was early Sunday morning when I met up on the bike path with Warren Renfrow and almost fell off my 10-speed with joy once I realized that I might actually have a friend to ride with; Stephen my man, unwilling to delve into the world of hot spandex… more comfortable on his Schwinn cruiser then a Bianchi 10-speed… and always looking for a chance to work on his 64 convertible Valiant, unfettered by my constant interruptions.

Warren had been riding for awhile and since it was my first time out, I was a bit trepidatious about the thinness of the tire… the downward position of the bars… the speed which I hit each downhill drop… as I followed behind him from El Dorado Park past the Power Plants. But by the time I was nearing Seal Beach, I was out in front, moving at a good solid pace and ready to ride farther.

Now, maybe he was just being nice and cutting me some slack… but I don’t think so: I was really getting the hang of it.

By the time we hit the beginning of Bolsa Chica I was hooked.

I was about to ride on when Warren shouted out, “D.D. come back!”

I pressed my hand breaks and turned around.

“What?” I said all sassy.

“You still have to ride home,” he said. “This was a good first trek for you but, I don’t think you should push it.”

Push it?

He’s lucky he didn’t lose an eye saying that to me.

I’m sure he was just being a good riding partner… concerned that I would be able to make the trip home… but all I heard in my demented mind was:

You’re a girl.

You can’t ride that far.

You weak-ass idiot.

You better go home now and leave the long ride to the big boys.

“Fine,” I said and took off at a fast pace as I cut back through the Sunset Beach housing.

Warren could have given a shit.

He lumbered about… totally ignoring me as he drank off of his stupid plastic sippy cup bottle that all of those bike guys have.

I stormed ahead: my chucks pushing hard on the pedals…. my Ramones shirt blowing in the breeze…. my big bun of hair bobbing up and down blissfully helmet free: I felt like a rebel.

He caught up to me at the red light off of Anderson, right next to Turc’s, and he was still in a nice glide when the light turned green. He gave me a smug nod and took off like a bat out of hell.

I was FURIOUS.

I started back from a total stop, downshifted and raced to catch up to him.

By the time I hit the first hill’s rise on PCH… in the Naval Weapons Station Wetlands… I had him.

I was beyond stoked.

I was gonna make him pay.

I couldn’t wait to be the rookie that pushed past the “Big Man” and road him into the ground.

And this is when I made the worst rookie move I could have ever made.

If there had been a video feed of this moment… cyclists everywhere would have thrown their arms up in exasperation, slapped their foreheads stunned and dismayed, and then turned to laugh at me with all of their little cycling friends.

I thought that the best way to conquer the hill was to shift into high gear and hit the pedals hard but my momentum slowed to almost a dead stop and by the time I adjusted my gears and looked up again, Warren was at the top of the second hill, drinking out of his stupid ass little sissy cup again, legs splayed wide, riding as if he was an old man on a Sunday joy ride through the park, casually enjoying the wetlands,  his demeanor.. pleased with the fact that he left me, the idiot, behind, without a second thought.

I was sure at that moment… that my head was actually going to explode.

I leaned forward, clenched my teeth and started barreling up the second hill.

Warren was almost across Seal Beach Boulevard when I came flying down towards him at an impressive pace.

I broke into a wide grin.

I saw him stop on the other side of Seal and wait at the curb for me.

Fuck that shit, I whispered to myself, You’re going down Mr. Crane Operator Man.

I pedaled harder.

I pedaled faster.

I didn’t give a shit that I had the red light.

I didn’t care that cars were driving through the intersection in front of me.

I would die beating Warren Renfrow’s ass.

I held fast to my grips, leaned forward aggressively and steeled myself to run the intersection.

I watched as Warren’s eyes suddenly grew large.

I ignored him as I zig-zagged between moving cars and stopped pedaling as if I had just won a lengthy race, knowing that my advanced momentum would carry me through the finish line, in front of him, and that’s… when I saw the cop: About half way down Seal Beach Boulevard, moving at a good clip between the police station and PCH.

I couldn’t see his eyes through the windshield, but I heard the cruiser accelerate and knew someone inside was ready to give a big ticket and hungry for a chase.

I hit the pedals hard again, and blew past Warren like a rocket.

I was off PCH and turning down the alley behind 17th Street to hide in the neighborhood when I heard Warren yell, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”

And then the police car skidded around the corner after me.

I was almost out of view from the main drag when I saw the cop race down Seventeenth hoping to catch me coming out the other side.

I hit the breaks, flipped the handle bars to the right and stopped in a hard skid.

A quick backpedal and I was back racing towards Warren at top speed.

“GO!” I shouted as I rushed past him. “GO!” I screamed as I blasted on by and rode hard towards 12th Street where I turned right into the neighborhood behind the Pavilions and followed, my head low, hidden behind the concrete wall, until I cut through the back parking lot of the Chase bank on Bolsa and pedaled the last one hundred yards of PCH to the bike path at a furious pace, only allowing my legs to slow as I cut the gate by the stone remains of the legendary Marina Palace and caught my breath; chubby tired and worn as I coasted down the bike trail towards home.

Warren raced up behind me.

“Jesus!” He shouted. “Sonny warned me about you. You fucking Grishams are crazy!”

I pictured Big Sonny’s face, our mutual friend, his dark glasses, greaser vato, long bushy gray goatee, shaking his head in disgust as he said to Warren, “Just remember one thing bro… she’s a Grisham” and my face flushed.

I could just imagine him cackling, crowing actually, about being right.

I road on in silence… part of me… glad to keep our family reputation for insanity alive… part of me sad that I probably would never be riding bikes with Warren Renfrow again.

We made it home, and Warren took a moment to stop and talk with my man about cars, and music, and whatever else.

I straddled my bike from a distance, an outsider, just an ear shot away from their conversation, when I heard something about me and the cops.

“I heard that!” I shouted.

They both turned and looked at me.

“Obviously you didn’t,” Stephen laughed, Warren joining him.

So I climbed on my bike, made my best pouty face and rode off, leaving the two of them deep in conversation, most likely about what a total jackass I was.

The next day, I decided I better call Sonny and come clean about my antics before Warren got a chance to tell him.

“I told him you were fucking crazy!” Sonny said. “All you mother fucking Grishams are!”

I felt deflated… ready to give in and concede defeat when Sonny added, “Hey… hey….”

“Yeah,” I said quietly.

“I’m really proud of you. I like that you still know how to get away from the fucking cops.”

And then he hung up.

But I didn’t mind.

In Sonny’s eyes I was still the winner of the race that day.

And that… was enough… for me.

The Bad Teacher: or How I Locked Seigi in my Classroom and Left for the Weekend without a Second Thought for his Well-being

Leave a comment

537565_10200918159820652_327784699_n

It was a Friday.

A long Friday.

We were all worn.

Who knows what had been going on in high school that week but obviously it had been one drama too many for all of us:

A broken heart.

A poor score on the SATs.

A confiscated phone.

A confiscated blunt.

Whatever it was, 6th period was spent and so… I did what any experienced teacher would do when the entire class arrives, flops into empty chairs, and each head drops into cradled arms where they lie listless and limpsy:

I put on the Simpsons and let them watch cartoons until the end of the period.

You cannot imagine the joy I find in watching my sixteen and seventeen-year-old students revert back into grade-school babies.

They giggle at the screen.

They drool on their arms as they smile sleepily and watch Bart and Homer and Lisa and Marge.

They parrot the dialogue.

They snack on goldfish crackers and jelly bellies, as they glance at each other with conspiratory glee, pleased in knowing that our class is having a secret afternoon nap break.

I always feel like Patton in these moments… bonding with my troops… knowing that because I have given them this delicious moment of relief from the war that is high school, they will trust in my future leadership, accept my push towards greatness as we study Whitman and Dickinson and will be my loyal educational soldiers forever.

I sat behind my desk, happy in the cool calm of the dark classroom, drinking my ice tea, grading essays by the computer light, the soundtrack of the Simpsons punctuating the quiet of the room, my babes soothed and content: I tell you… it was lovely.

Seigi, my senior classroom aide, had scored the prime spot on the back couch: the back couch which was coveted by many of my students.

It was the cool place to hang… the best place to sleep if you had a sport’s meet in the afternoon and needed a bit of a break before you were required to swim a 50-meter fly, or a grueling scrimmage on the field or in the pool, or before a 5-mile roundtrip run through El Dorado park and back.

It was against the far wall, hidden by a row of old covered wooden desks, but if you laid out flat on it, and looked underneath the desktops, you had the perfect, comfortable, vantage point, for viewing the large movie screen where my LCD projected.

Nobody questioned Seigi’s dibs on the couch that day. Being that he had senority, top man of the class, no one fussed, the caste system of high school finite… the pecking order… unchallenged… and so, Seigi sauntered over, stretched out, face down on the black sofa cushions, and settled in to watch the show as he faded in-and-out of consciousness.

The ninety-minute class period seemed but a moment and when the bell rang, there was hardly a child that made a move towards the door. Happy, tired and content, they preferred to stay put as the cartoons continued to run until I said quietly, “Time to go people,” unwilling really to send them out into the world but knowing I must do so.

After a moment or two of hushed fussing and shuffling, they grabbed their gear, quietly headed out the door without even turning on a light, barely a “Bye Ms. Wood have a good weekend” before leaving me alone in the dark.

I sat for a moment longer before I forced myself to rise, shutting down my computer, making my way through the dim light towards the door, where I locked it, gave the handle a quick security shake, before walking slowly to my car and going home.

I was so glad it was the weekend.

I showered.

Put on my pajamas.

And laid down on my bed to watch mindless TV and flip through magazines until bedtime.

I was completely oblivious to my mistake.

I was completely confident that I had done everything right in my classroom that day.

However, I believe Seigi would beg to differ.

About seven that evening, Seigi woke up.

No… not from a nap at home… not from the comfort of his own bed… but from his nap in my classroom.

He woke up to a pitch black room… in fact the bungalow so dark at night that the darkness is palpable… suffocatingly close to your face.

Now imagine that just a few weeks prior to this event. Ms. Wood had taught you about the horrors of Poe… had shared the film El Orfanato with you… had scared you to death with the Poe-esque elements in this foreign film where a haunted Victorian orphanage holds mysteries of the past, and creepy little orphan ghost children run about from room-to-darkened-room scaring you repeatedly through each cinematic moment.

I tell you… it terrifies even me and this… was Seigi’s nightmare.

From what I gathered over the course of several weeks and numerous renditions of his guilt-inducing retellings to each and every child who would stop and listen… it was beyond horrific.

Seigi had woken, become completely disoriented, sat up screaming then tried to run out of the room, sure that a creepy little ghost orphan was about to grab him, but was physically assaulted by first, the old wooden block of desks, then… a row of metal and formica desks that stood strong behind the front line that held him back.

He tried to move forward but imagined tiny little creepy hands grabbing at him from every direction.

He lost his mind.

He panicked.

Screamed.

Tried to jump over the desks and somehow hurl himself to safety but caught his foot on a metal leg, fell to the floor, wreathing in mental and physical pain, where he then crawled across the back of the classroom, hands pressed firmly down on the dirty linoleum, until he bumped into the far wall, reached up for the door handle, pulled the metal latch down and rolled out onto the landing and laid panting heavily on the dirty anti-slip covering, shell-shocked and crying… stunned and out of breath.

My phone rang at exactly 7:03 pm.

I didn’t even look at it.

I ignored the call to duty believing that I had lead all of my soldiers to safety and had not lost a man that day.

I was wrong.

So very wrong.

At 7:45 my curiosity got the better of me and so, as I stood looking in the bathroom mirror, slathering my face with my favorite Vitamin C cream, my phone laying next to me. I reached down, pressed the hands-free setting and waited to hear the message that I had missed.

At first, there was a loud commotion, as if someone had dropped their phone and was rushing to pick it up. I had no idea that it was Seigi rolling around on my bungalow landing. What followed was almost an incoherent babble before a rough, bark of a harsh whisper reached out and electronically slapped me with a verbal assault across my face:

“Fuck you Ms. Wood,” the voice snapped at me. “Do you hear me?” It repeated. “I said FUCK YOU.”

There was a loud thump and then a sudden click.

“DOH!” I shouted out.

A bright flash as if a camera click illuminated my brain: the couch, the dark, the SEIGI!

OH JESUS!

I looked around as if I could somehow do something right now to immediately lead my Seigi to safety.

Of course… I couldn’t.

I had failed at my command.

I had left a man behind.

I’d like to say that I called Seigi right away but I didn’t.

I knew what I was up against.

I knew what I would hear.

I knew what I would see when I returned to my room and this is what it was:

19176_1343479791458_8363404_n

Yes…  the thousand yard stare.

And not just the unfocused gaze of my battle-weary soldier but behind that gaze a look of complete disgust for his commanding officer.

I knew that I would have to bear Seigi’s wrath for weeks to come but to be honest, it was hard to look remorseful each time he told the story when really the image of  him running blindly through my room, his imagination a battlefield of blockades and creepy orphans, amused me terribly with each retelling.

And today, Seigi and I share a camaraderie over this story, a joy in the shared brotherhood of our bond. Forever locked together in time… even though as a commander I failed miserably and left my man behind.

Corey Hale Becomes Confused After Experiencing an Overly Sexy Hug from Mrs. Wood

Leave a comment

Corey Hale copy

Well it was bound to happen.

Sooner or later I knew that I would cause some type of confusion in a young man’s life.

And so it goes…

Corey Hale: former student, friend and band mate of my 23-year-old son, amp wizard, and all around good kid.

I had forgotten about the “overly sexy”  hug that had sent him reeling for many months but last night as we all sat around at Sam’s Seafood, enjoying Kallie’s 23rd birthday party, the story came out.

I had just been lamenting the fact to my boyfriend, Stephen, and my dear friend Margie, that I was “dry” and didn’t have a Saturday story to tell, when Corey popped up, plied with cheap beer and a shot of Wild Turkey, his new girlfriend in tow, and said, “Mrs. Wood, do you remember when you gave me that overly sexy hug and then got really angry with me because I told Dylan about it?”

Stephen’s eyes widened… so did Margie’s before she said,  “Well there you go. Your Saturday story. See how the Universe aligns?”

I turned around and looked at him.

He was clutching his girlfriend’s hand tightly, she was a tiny little sweet thing and I could only imagine what she was thinking: I was the spitting image of Joan from Mad Men last night. A brick shit house in a tight white wiggle dress… dark red lips… high peep toe pumps.

I had become Mrs. Robinson and hadn’t even realized it.

I wasn’t sure where his story was going to go… but…. I am always willing to call myself out publicly and so… I joined in and hoped he would continue.

“I wasn’t angry at you.” I said.  “Just surprised you were such a kiss and tell!”

“I was confused!” he shouted. “Dylan and I were just about to go on stage. We were loading in out front of Di Piazza’s. You had just finished playing. I was in awe of you and it was like my first show ever and then you gave me the overly sexy hug.”

Stephen smiled at him, “Do you remember any of your set that night?”

“NO!” Corey said. “I was confused. The overly sexy hug confused me. I kept wondering. Did Dylan’s mom mean to give me the overly sexy hug? Was I really supposed to be the recipient of the overly sexy hug? Was I just imagining the overly sexy hug?”

Here he paused and looked to his girlfriend for assistance: She was no help.

“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” she said. “Mrs. Wood is hot.”

This only made things worse.

I felt my shoulders tighten and I couldn’t bring myself to look at Stephen or Margie.

Corey began to sweat freely.

You could see his shiny little face… embarrassed, as if admitting in a confessional, that he had “feelings” for his friend’s mother: inappropriate feelings.

It was hard not to chide him and really fuck him up for life but I was reeling now myself and so… I sat quiet.

He reached up and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“Corey,” Stephen asked. “Can you show us the overly sexy hug?”

Corey put down his drink.

Excited to replay the moment.

He had his girlfriend stand up on a step so that she could portray his height accurately while he would play me.

He grabbed her roughly, took both hands and pulled her hips in towards his until they were both touching. Then, he kicked up one of his heels in a cutesy position and arched his back and pretended to press his make-believe giant boobs forward.

Oh my God… I thought to myself. Jesus…. I’m surprised he hadn’t passed out on the street when it happened.”

Stephen was really enjoying the moment: I of course was squirming.

I wiped my own sweaty brow and pretended to examine my fingernails.

I took a long sip off of my Coke and rolled my eyes at Stephen.

“Yep,” Stephen said. “That’s an overly sexy hug.”

“RIGHT?” Corey said directly to him. Happy to have a champion on his side.

At this time Corey’s girlfriend left to get a soda and I turned to face Corey head on.

“Corey,” I asked feeling defensive for my behavior. “Are you saying that my hug confused you all of this time? That it was a negative experience for you?”

He looked at me stunned.

“Are you kidding? No way. I was confused in a good way for months.” He looked at Stephen and then added, “Months and months” a big happy smile plastered across his baby face.

I felt my own face flush.

Stephen nodded his head, lifting his beer toward me, in a silent toast to my brazen behavior.

He loved it.

Happy in the knowledge that I was Corey’s Mrs. Malone: Stephen’s hot high school teacher who he was still crushing on after all of these years. She was probably close to seventy by now but to Stephen, she would always be thirty-five, in a tight black pencil skirt, white silk blouse, small sprinkle of light freckles across the bridge of her nose, and a large luscious mouth.

“It was great,” Corey said. Before he bounced off to find his girlfriend.

Stephen leaned in close to me and whispered, “Mrs. Robinson. You’re trying to seduce me now aren’t you?”

“Oh shut the fuck up Stephen,” I snapped.

He giggled like a school boy as I watched Corey wave and smile at me from the bar… to be forever happily confused over the overly sexy hug.

While I considered the possibility of a breast reduction and a life time of wearing, no make-up, my hair pulled back in a small tight bun, a moo-moo and some nice orthopedic shoes.

Ms. Wood has an Affair: The Lemon Lush Pie Incident

9 Comments

Lemon Lush

I didn’t mean for it to happen.

I swear… I really didn’t… but then again… isn’t that what everyone says?

I couldn’t control myself?

I was overwhelmed with passion?

I was in love with a feeling?

I thought it would be just a one night stand… a fling really.

But it wasn’t….

Me sitting secluded in the dark booth…

My new lover, Lemon Lush Pie from Jongewaard’s Bake n Broil sitting seductively in front of me.

Oh… how he lured me in…

His intoxicating smell…

His handsome exterior…

He was the perfect combination: sweet, rich, complicated in his multiple layers.

Any woman would have fallen for his magnetic pull.

One bite… and I was overwhelmed.

I tried to act coy… pretend I wasn’t that interested… and so I pushed him away and waited a week before I returned.

And when I arrived… he was excited to see me.

All spruced up on his little blue plate… just waiting in anticipation for the moment when we would be together again.

I didn’t hesitate.

I jumped right in.

And by the time I was done I was spent… satisfied.

I believed that my craving for him had been quenched but I was a fool…

I had no idea what power he had over me.

Soon, I was obsessed.

I began to talk about him often.

I found numerous ways to bring him up in almost any conversation.

Any excuse to focus on my crush:

“Hey Ms. Wood, did you hear about that incident in North Korea?

“Oh yes,” I would reply. “By the way… did you know that they don’t have Lemon Lush pie in North Korea? I think we should go have some just to celebrate that fact.”

Soon… I was dragging others along with me.

They had no idea how serious it was.

They thought we were just friends.

They thought it was just casual.

And like any good addict I hid my addiction.

I kept my distance at the table.

I never licked my fingers in public or acted as if my heart raced whenever I was near him.

I made sure not to stare at him for too long or give him an overly flirty look.

I played it all off… and I was good… really good…until the real lying began.

I would come up with any excuse… any reason… to get away and be with my crush.

“Hey D.D.” Stephen my boyfriend would say, “I’ve gotta pick something up at Home Depot do you want to…”

“Oh! I’ll go for you,” I would shout, knowing that Bake n Broil was less than a mile from the hardware store.

“Are you sure?” Stephen would question… his innocent gaze completely unsuspecting.

“Sure,” I would say overly cheerful.

And when I returned… sated once again… sugar still on my lips… he had no idea of my indiscretion.

But after months of lying… I began to feel horrible.

How could I do this to my man?

Hadn’t he always been so good to me?

Extreme guilt washed over me each time I looked into Stephen’s sweet, naive face.

I watched as he stayed steadfast… his trust in me secure… while he ate his diet lunches and dinners sure in his knowledge that we were in a mutually exclusive relationship comprised of trust and love.

But it still didn’t stop me.

I had to have Lemon Lush at any cost.

Soon, I began bringing him home.

I had him in my office.

In my bathtub.

In my bed.

He was amazing.

And each time we were together… the risk seemed worth it.

Even when I heard the dogs bark…

the gate latch lift…

the front door swing open…

I rushed to finish before I was caught ecstatic that once again… I had my way.

But like any affair… the outcome always ends in tears and so… on one particular Friday when I believed Stephen to be fast at work in his office in Anaheim, I sat in my bed, fork in hand, an entire pie tin of Lemon Lush pressed close to my face, and looked up to find that Stephen had quietly come down the hallway and was now standing at my bedroom door, shocked… stunned…. expression full of pain.

“All this time?” He said, his voice breaking on the last word.

I stared at him… caught mid-act I didn’t know what to say.

Lemon Lush had no time to hide and I had no time to clean myself up.

“How could you do it?” He asked. “D.D. How could you do it?”

I sat silent.

Mute in my guilt, as Stephen slowly turned and headed off down the hallway and out the front door.

We sat there… Lemon Lush and I… unwilling to go on… ashamed of our behavior.

I gathered his things and escorted him to the trash bin.

I could see that he was hurt but I knew… it was Lemon Lush or Stephen… and Stephen was my true love.

I would have to make an amends to Stephen and give Lemon Lush up forever.

I left him at the curb and rushed to find my keys so that I could go find Stephen and apologize for my indiscretion.

I found him… sitting on his front stoop.

Sad face.

Head down.

Eating a tin of Sardines.

Glass of water by his side.

I walked up hang-dogged and sat beside him.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “It won’t ever happen again.”

“Oh I know it won’t,” Stephen said. ” There’s consequences to your actions.”

He tipped his head, motioning behind him, where I saw the Weight Watchers Digital Scale looming in the background.

“Go ahead,” he said as he ate his last sardine.

I stood up, I knew what I had to do. I stepped on the scale gingerly.

“All the way,” Stephen said sternly.

I watched as the scale went up twenty pounds higher than it had read four months ago when the affair began.

I gasped in shock.

“I could have told you that guy wasn’t good for you,” Stephen said smugly as he moved on to his hard-boiled egg… a small snarky smirk on his face… knowing the painful months that lay before me.

Diet.

Exercise.

And the day-to-day painful longing for my lost love: Lemon Lush.