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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Getting in a Fight with Stephen, Somewhere in Kansas in Front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken, While on a Cross-Country Road Trip

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me and stephen 64

I had been married to my X for almost twenty years and NEVER took him on a road trip.

Never.

The idea of bringing a man on a road trip seemed absolutely ridiculous to me.

My road trips were private matters.

I wanted to be completely alone.

If I wanted to listen to music… I did.

If I wanted it completely silent in the car for hours on end… it was.

This was my NO MAN’s land.

My best story ideas, song ideas, and big thoughts on life and spiritual matters came to me on my road trips.

Highway 10 from Long Beach to Santa Fe New Mexico… alone… silent… could solve a host of problems that couldn’t be solved by thinking about them at home.

And so… it was with great reluctance that I allowed Stephen to join me.

Stephen… summer of 2007… one year into our friendship.

And how… you must be wondering… did I allow myself to cave?

Well…he said, “I’ve never been on a road trip before.”

“Never?” I said. “Not even with your guy friends?”

“Nope,” and then his shoulders slumped and he made a little sad face. “Never.”

And since I cared for Stephen… and knew the value of a good road trip in a person’s life… my heart felt for him and so I invited  him to come along.

Of course, once I invited him… I immediately started saying things to get him to back out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to let someone in… be close… give up my private experience.

“You know…” I told him. “I do what I want on the road. I don’t set a destination. I don’t go to any specific location. I drive as long as I want… I sleep in small motels in off beat towns. And I’ve NEVER taken a man with me before,” I paused here for emphasis. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

He nodded his head… excited to be invited on a road trip and I knew this would be a turning point in our friendship… we would either survive this road trip together and be bonded for life, or we would burn out somewhere close to Albuquerque with Stephen shouting at me to “STOP THE CAR” before kicking the door shut, flipping me off, and hitching a ride to the closest airport where he would fly home, never to be seen again… Maybe even silently “wishing me the best” (the ultimate fuck you really) before boarding a plane and drinking as many cocktails allowed on the two and a half hour flight home to Los Angeles while praying that I would die in a fiery car crash somewhere outside of Nashville.

I sighed.

Weeks went by and Stephen excitedly planned for his big adventure. I saw him programming a GPS and I actually started to sweat. I NEVER used a GPS… that was cheating… I felt anxious… but I sucked it up each time I saw him pore over a map… his reading glasses high on his face… his eyes looming large… magnified through the glass as he fantasized about all of his future destinations and scribbled furiously… little notes and words in his mini notebook.

“What’s that?” I asked one day.

“I’m preparing,” he said with pure glee.

I looked at him as if he were a bad student in my class. “Don’t,” I said sternly, my face stone. “Just stop.”

He looked at me as if I was speaking some foreign language it almost seemed he was ignoring me…. before he went back to poring over his maps and scribbling furiously.

This is a mistake I thought. We’re going to be in a fight before we even get out of L.A. county.

But I held my tongue, shocking I know, but I did and when the day arrived for us to leave, Stephen was prepared.

It looked like I had the ultimate Boy Scout ready to set off with me… wait, strike that, let’s make him an Eagle Scout.

I have never seen anyone so organized for a trip. He even had his passport in case we decided to cross a border.

Jesus.

We left Long Beach at 4 am, stopped at a drive-thru Starbucks for coffee and were on the road and on our way to Maine.

California to Maine…. one of the best drives ever…

There is nothing like watching the sun come up from the highway. It is one of my all time favorite moments in life.

Me.

The car.

The road.

Complete silence as the skyline goes from jet black to a purple opaque with a hint of orange, before the sun bursts into bright yellow streaks and illuminates the blue sky.

Only… that’s not what happened.

What happened was TOOL was blasting from the speakers as Stephen bobbed his head to the music, tapped his foot against the dash, drank his coffee with gusto and I sat in silence, big headed baby, pouting… as I drove the car.

I was miffed. Distraught. But Stephen was so pleased to be on a road trip… I kept quiet.

I headed for highway 70… it is a beautiful path… not stark beauty like the 10… which is actually quite a lonely road… the 70 is America in all of it’s patch work glory.

Coming over the pass into Colorado… the river running along side it… boxed in by mountains… until you rise again and see the Great Plains laid out before you… it is a drive that makes the traveler a hopeless romantic.

And Stephen said, “I thought you were taking the 10?”

I tried not to make a face.

“I’ve programmed my GPS for the 10,” he said in a pitiful whine of a voice.

“Well,” I said. “Unprogram.”

I could see that he was bent.

Perturbed.

Annoyed.

And I thought… don’t you dare… don’t you dare…. who are you to be any of those things on my road trip?

We drove all the way to Vegas without a word… Stephen heavy metal thumping while I looked out the window and prayed for the audio system to fail.

By the time we hit the plateau above Grand Valley, Colorado… I wasn’t sure if we would make it through the next two weeks but then the road opened up, the view down was amazing, and Stephen turned off the music which left Colorado ahead of us, and a quiet car to take in the beauty.

The rest of the day was really uneventful… as was the next…. we discovered a common love of SIRIUS’s stand up comedy channel and laughed all the way to Kansas where things then took a turn for the worse.

We were tired from driving… hours and hours of travel… when we finally started looking for a hotel room around 10 o’clock at night.

This is when we heard two words that I never imagined could be so dreaded:

State Fair.

“What?” I asked.

Then there were three dreaded words:

Kansas State Fair.

Shit.

Every hotel within 100 miles of the Kansas State Fair was booked solid and Stephen and I were beyond exhausted.

It was the first time ever I felt myself falling asleep at the wheel. In fact, Stephen had already flopped over into the back seat and passed out. I was glad that he was quiet and resting but still totally annoyed that he was at that moment… no help.

I prayed that I would make it to a hotel before I nodded off and lost control of the car and thankfully, around mile 83, there was one room left available at a Best Western.

We pulled in, checked in, and passed out in a matter of minutes.

The next morning, I was “hungover” from such a long day of driving the day before, that I didn’t want to get up… but… Stephen wanted to get moving.

“Get up,” he said. “Come on get up.”

I was tired, angry that he was bossing me about, and pouting because I knew that if HE hadn’t been in the car with me… I would have found a hotel easily, I wouldn’t be getting up early right now, I would be following my OWN time frame and completely ALONE. I climbed out of the bed in a big baby fit threw on my clothes and shoes and reached to grab the keys and stomp to the car when Stephen reached out and grabbed them.

“I’m driving,” he said.

I gave him a look…. ready to kill him, but he just turned and walked out of the room and headed to the car… unwilling to give me my way.

I climbed into the passenger seat, slammed the door and sulked. We weren’t even out of the parking lot when I said, “Go through the KFC so at least we can get something to eat.”

Stephen rounded the corner for the drive-thru and thought for some reason that the lane he was in was not for the drive-up window.

“It is!” I shouted. “Trust me. Just go right there!” I pointed towards a loud speaker and watched as Stephen ignored me, passed the window and made a loop around the front of the KFC.

“No,” he said calmly. “I’m sure that was the wrong lane.”

I felt anger seething out of every pore… I set my jaw so firmly that it must have looked like it was wired shut and believe me… in just a matter of minutes… I was going to wish it had been wired shut…

Just as Stephen was making the turn to go back through the lane I originally told him to, a large white bus full of black Baptists rolled in front of us and I watched as the Minister ordered 15 buckets of chicken, obviously for his entire congregation, who I could see through the large rectangular glass bus windows… smiling and happy, seriously spiritually enlightened people, radiating  God’s joy as they waited patiently for their chicken and I actually went insane.

I don’t even remember what I said to Stephen, but it was every angry thing you say to someone when you “kick the cat”….

Why did I bring you?

What were you thinking?

Why couldn’t you listen to me?

Who the HELL do you think you are?

LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE GOD DAMN BAPTISTS EATING MY CHICKEN!

By the time we got to the window… I was spent… which often happens with us passionate HOT HEADS leaving our quiet introverted family, friends, and lovers, totally stunned by our outbursts and often feeling

MORTALLY wounded while we HOT HEADS just move on to the next big thing to be passionate and upset about…

Stephen however had, had enough.

He pulled up to the window to pay the KFC kid and wait for our chicken while I, now calm… said, “Could you please open the trunk so I can get something out of my bag?”

“Just wait,” he said… his tone one of intense loathing…

“Wait for what?” I snapped and popped out of the car and headed to the back of the trunk.

Stephen, by now, so TOTALLY pissed off at me took one look in the rear view mirror and floored the car. The wheels screeched as he took off and then laid a big skid and stopped about twenty feet from the window.

My mouth dropped open as I watched my door fly shut as he burned out… but the funniest moment was when I looked back at the drive-thru window and saw that the KFC kid had hung the food bag out for Stephen to grab right as he pulled away… so the teenager’s arm was just dangling out the window with a big bag of KFC floating in mid-air waiting for no one to take it.

I paused a moment… I really wanted to laugh but I was still just too angry.

I walked over and grabbed the bag from the kid, walked up to the car, opened the door and climbed inside where I threw the bag of chicken on the floor and shouted, “I’m not even hungry any more.”

Stephen could have given a shit. He burnt out and hit the Interstate at an alarming pace. Probably anxious to find the nearest airport and fulfill my earlier prophecy.

We both stewed in silent obstinance across the entire great state of Kansas before we finally just busted up laughing hysterically… barely able to breath… tears streaming down our faces, as we crossed the border into Ohio where I then picked up the bag, pulled a cold, hard biscuit from it, and handed it to Stephen as a peace offering.

It was the only fight we got in during the entire two weeks on the trip and I believe that it really was necessary for our bonding experience and that the event brought us closer together.

After that, we went on to see thousands of wild geese land on a secluded lake somewhere in Ohio, scare ourselves to death sleeping in Lizzie Borden’s house in Fall Rivers Massachusetts, nap on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s lawn in Salem, and drive through the Bad Lands of South Dakota on our return trip, a place Stephen had never been, and was so thankful to see… the desert at dusk, the look of the sand and the cliffs, so alien and mystical… really something everyone should experience in a lifetime.

I will never regret that fight at the KFC… or letting someone in, and sharing my road trip.

What I find as I grow older, is that staying and building relationships, even when at times you want to run away… desert all… find security and safety in yourself… believing that it will be easier… somehow protect you from hurt… or build a wall so that people can’t get in…

Only makes you the person who is UNWILLING to take the road trip… to see what lays before you… what discoveries are out there to find… what common interests, ideas, spiritual moments you can share, even if it is only a ridiculously stupid fight behind a bus load of black Baptists somewhere in Kansas….

The beauty.. is in the shared story… our shared story…

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

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

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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.

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.

Paul Brashier Drops His Drawers

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This is Paul Brashier.

Paul Brashier has been my friend since I was a very young child and he is one of a small, select group of people who can actually make me laugh so hard that I will eventually end up peeing my pants if I do not run away from him immediately.

It is a quality that I both love and hate in him.

Love? Because it really is fun to have friends that can make you laugh that hard.

Hate? Because he can make you laugh even when you don’t want to… even when you are so entirely angry with him as a human being… so much so… that you truly want to kill him… he can still make you laugh.

You could be standing behind him, with a ball ping hammer in your hand, ready to knock his block off, and he would just turn around, make a face…strike an exaggerated pose… or inhale off of his asthma intake loudly before saying something like “Hey Tappy Tapperson and the Tappets… how about you take that fucking hammer and move along” and you’d be falling out again and unable to get in a good swing.

Paul moved away from my neighborhood for many years but now is back… with his lovely wife and family… and when I recently saw this photo of him on his Facebook wall… it reminded me of a minor moment from years earlier at the neighborhood Albertson’s.

In fact… it was the first time in my life that I have ever seen Paul Brashier totally embarrassed. So much so, that he couldn’t look me in the eye for several hours after the incident.

We were riding together in my mini-van with my good friend, Christy Godfrey. Christy is a teacher and has that look and attitude about her that seems very proper and very strict. However, once you get to know her, you find out that she is actually quite a lot of fun.

Paul did not know this yet about Christy, so as we all drove towards the Albertson’s: Christy riding shotgun, Paul in the back… he was, in his opinion, loosening her up with his comedy routine and doing a pretty good job of keeping us both from breathing during the entire short ride to the store.

He was really on a roll.

When we got there…. I wanted to stay in the car with Christy and chat and so… I handed Paul some money and asked him if he wouldn’t mind going into the store for me.

He pretended to fuss… to roll his eyes and make a scene… but then he cracked a joke, jumped out of the car, pretended to jab at me through the open window, before he walked in front of the mini-van, undid his pants, and mooned me.

Now, I knew immediately that it was just his way of  teasing me… a kind of “fuck you” for making him go into the Albertson’s on his own… and that he planned to show just a bit of crack before pulling up his pants and moving along.

Unfortunately for Paul… he lost his grip on his clothing… and I watched as Mr. Skinny Ass dropped his pants completely to the ground.

One minute… he was fully clothed in the Albertson’s parking lot and the next minute… he was buck-ass naked, free-balling it and pants-less in the middle of Middle Class America.

I watched as he panicked.

Even from behind I could tell.

His head did a triple-take in all directions.

He stopped… stunned… and stared at the large middle-aged woman who was now standing in front of him. She stopped… stunned… her shopping cart a shield against the punk rock pervert she was watching.  Her eyes grew large… her knuckles grew white as she clutched the handle of the basket… unsure if she should move forward to her car, which we soon found out was parked next to us, or make a run for the light of the supermarket door and the safety of the rent-a-cop who was napping on the bench next to the magazine rack.

Paul reached down as quickly as possible to pick up his pants… without thinking about the view Christy and I were privy to from behind. He bent over completely, balls dangling, ass cheeks spread wide, and winked his brown-eye in Christy’s face.

I heard her gasp…. Paul heard it too. I watched as he froze… the realization of what Christy had just seen… hitting him full force.

I couldn’t take any more: I threw my head back and howled with glee.

When I looked up again… Paul was scurrying towards the store, not sure what to do: too embarrassed to come back to the van and obviously afraid that the woman he had accidentally flashed was about to call the police and report him.

Luckily for Paul… he had nothing to worry about.

She walked up next to the van, saw that Christy’s window was open, turned to speak to Christy… giant smile on her face… and said, “God bless the youth of America.”

She was still beaming as she emptied her cart, got into her car, and waved excitedly as she drove off: Paul Brashier’s nudity the highlight of her mundane evening and maybe even the highlight of her entire mundane life.

Christy sat quietly for a moment… head down… not sure what to think.

Having never been around a “Punk Rock” group in her life, until she had the unfortunate luck of running into me, she didn’t really know what to do.

“Should I say something when he gets back in the car?” She asked.

I was still in the throws of laughter but managed to get out the words, “If he even comes back to the car.”

We waited.

It was a really long wait.

I could only imagine what was going through Paul’s mind. It must have been agonizing for him.

I knew Paul well… and though he can come off as quite wild from time-to-time he was raised to have some semblance of middle-class manners and I knew that he was really struggling with this moment.

Finally, we saw him come out of the store… baseball hat low over his eyes… Dickie’s jacket buttoned up to the neck… pants cinched tightly… head down… grocery bag swinging… as he made for a quick clip across the lot and hurriedly got back into the car.

I tried not to look at him… I swear I tried not to laugh… but I just couldn’t do it.

Christy and I both lost all control.

I caught his face in the rear view mirror and watched as he looked out the window… first a bit angry and miffed but then… comforted by our laughter… a bit of a smirk returning to his face.

He was still too embarrassed to chime in… recap the events…. and that was alright by me.

It was actually great to finally see him the one totally caught off guard…

FINALLY the person who for once did NOT get the last laugh.

Recording with Flaco Jimenez and playing with The Texas Tornados

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In the 1990’s when I was signed to my first big recording deal with Hollywood Records, I was fortunate enough to have several of my all-time superstar favorite musicians want to play on my album.

So, when my producer said that Flaco Jimenez from The Texas Tornados loved my song, I Wonder Why, and wanted to add his Tejano accordion stylings on the track, I was all in.

I had never met Flaco, I had only admired his work as a fellow musician and a fan and so… the day that he first came to the studio… I was a bit shy.

Lucky for me… Flaco wasn’t.

In fact… Flaco is FAR from shy. He is actually a giant flirt but in a way that is so sweet and kind he could have basically said the crudest of things to me and I still would have looked at him and smiled like a starstruck school girl: He really is that charming.

He showed up in old polyester grandpa pants and an over-sized sweatshirt. His hair smelled of Tres Flores and he reminded me of all of the men that I had loved growing up: greaser grandpas that worked on cars, had tool sheds with pin-up girl calendars on the wall, and always bought you that coca-cola you weren’t supposed to have right before dinner at the old school liquor store while picking up that cigar that grandma didn’t want him to smoke.

Yep.

For me it was love at first sight and for Flaco… it was love when he had a pretty girl standing next to him singing like a bird while he played along… at least… that’s what he said to me in his charmingly witty way.

We ran through some takes and caught the feel of the music rather quickly and so the PR rep began to take the publicity photos.

Flaco has a very thick Spanish accent and though I could understand most of what he was saying… I was a bit confused when he kept asking me to put my head on his accordion.

I couldn’t figure out why in the hell he would want me to put my head on his accordion but… I figured if a musical great asks you to put your head on his accordion well… then you do it.

I leaned over and laid my head against the keys.

Flaco laughed and pushed my head back up and said, “Your head. Your head!”

I put my head back down and pressed it against the keys again.

“Ay!” he said laughing and then repeated louder. “YOUR HEAD!”

After about five minutes of me putting my head down… Flaco pushing it up… the people standing inside of the control room staring at us and starting to wonder if we were playing some musical blow job game, Julian, my producer, finally pushed the talk back button in the control room and said, “What the hell are you two doing?”

The photographer stood mute… not sure how to handle the situation so he just stared at Julian hoping that his production skills went further than just musical instruction.

Flaco shouted out towards the glass, “I want her to put her HEAD on my instrument for the photographer.”

Julian looked stunned for a moment… not sure if we were moving into some type of creepy sex-for-music scandal before I saw his face light up and he said, “Oh! He wants you to put your HAND on his accordion.”

“Yes!” Flaco laughed and nodded his head, “Come D.D. put your HAND on my instrument.”

I tried not to envision my “hand” on Flaco’s “instrument” as I reached over and pretended to play the keys on the accordion.

Flaco put his hand next to mine, leaned in for a giant hug, and smiled big at the photographer waiting for the flash to snap.

“Jesus,” I heard the photographer mumble under his breath.

“You didn’t understand him either,” I snapped.

“Whaaaaaahhh?” Flaco said.

“Nothing Flaco,” I squeezed his arm and then turned to give the photographer a dirty look. “Everything is fine.”

About a week later, the record company called and said, “Flaco really likes you. The Texas Tornados want you to play a series of shows with them. Are you okay with that?”

Were they kidding?

I was ecstatic.

My family was elated.

And I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to meet the boys.

“Just some local shows,” my manager said. “But we want to get a bit of a buzz going for ya.”

Our first show together was at The Coachhouse and I wanted to bring them all gifts so… I talked to my A&R rep and we gave them each the best of the Disney swag: Solid gold Mickey Mouse watches in special collector cartoon tins. They were super cool gifts and though I was nervous to meet all the guys together, I was excited to give them to the band.

I arrived for sound check, walked up the back stairs of The Coachhouse, and found the guys hanging out in the large Green room.

Augie Meyers definitely looked the scariest. He has that old hard biker thing going and I swear if he had shouted at me I would have stopped and pee’d in fear on the spot. He eyeballed me up and down as he sat on the couch, one leg crossed over the other, arms splayed out over the backside of the couch cushions, as if he were sizing me up and deciding whether or not to like me.

Freddy Fender looked up from re-stringing his guitar and smiled. He had always reminded me of a Latino Jerry Garcia, someone I had never seen as much of a threat, so I smiled back and gave him a bit of a wave.

Doug Sahm, was the funny man of the group… he reminded me of Joe Walsh from The Eagles… always looking for some type of trouble and fun and so he shouted a big “HEY!” before Flaco rushed over and grabbed me.

“This is D.D.” he said to the band, as if he were presenting them with a special gift, and when I saw Augie Meyer’s face light up, I knew that everything was going to be okay. They all stood up to hug me and shake my hand and I felt like I suddenly had my own personal gang of musical bad asses: men who would be more then willing to silence any type of idiotic heckler in the crowd. I knew it was going to be a beautiful series of shows and as I glowed in their presence… I handed them their gifts.

You would have thought that they had never received a present from anyone in their lifetime. They were all overwhelmed with my thoughtfulness and Augie actually bent down and kissed my head, he seemed almost embarrassed to accept his watch but took it out of the case, admired it briefly, before putting it on and preparing to sound check for the show.

That night both our sets went off without a hitch. We played to a sold-out crowd and woke up to stellar reviews. It seriously felt like my life couldn’t get any better and the warm feeling continued until later that night when I watched Freddy Fender giving an interview on television.

He was in the middle of talking about the tour when his microphone kept clinking against something in his pocket.

The metallic sound was so distracting to the interviewer that he actually stopped the interview with Freddy and asked, “What’s going on in your pocket?”

Freddy smiled and pulled out the Disney cartoon watch tin and held it up to the camera. “Oh,” he said, laughing as he opened it wide for the viewers to see. “D.D. Wood gave this to me. I love it. I’m diabetic and I keep all of my insulin needles in this little container. See? It fits them perfectly. Isn’t it a lovely gift?”

I looked at his wrist: no watch.

I looked back at his hand: tin full of needles.

God I hoped people heard the diabetic part and weren’t already sending me hate mail about how I was enabling the habit of “Mr. Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and basically trying to kill off a living legend.

Jesus.

My husband who was watching the show with me looked over and laughed out loud.

“I love it!” He said with a great big growl and a loud clap of his hands. “Freddy Fender just gave you the best shout out ever.”

I wasn’t so sure about that.

“He liked the tin. He isn’t wearing the watch,” I said with a pout.

“Gimme a break,” my husband said. “Keeping his needles in your tin is way better.”

I gave him a skeptical look.

My next show with The Tornados, I walked up, grabbed Freddy, and pulled the tin from his pocket.

“Really?” I said. “Really? On National television?  You tell people you love the tin and you don’t even wear the watch?”

“What?” He said. “The watch is cool and all but… that little tin is just so perfect for my rigs.”

“Hey this ain’t prison,” I said. “Don’t be getting all drug slang on me.”

He laughed and gave me a big hug, “It’s not like I said you were there with me little girl.”

Flaco came up and hugged me. “I heard you brought your mother to this show may I meet her?”

Freddy actually rolled his eyes.

I could only imagine what was going to happen next but I led Flaco to my mom and watched from the stage, trying to concentrate on my set, as Flaco flirted and laughed with my mother.

I couldn’t stop myself from wondering what it would be like to have Flaco as my step-dad and The Texas Tornados as regular visitors at my household.

I smiled at the thought as I finished my last song and bowed to the crowd.

“He seems to really like your mom,” Augie said from the wings as I unplugged my Fender and walked off the stage.

“Is that a good thing?” I asked.

Augie shook his head and laughed.

Doug walked up behind us and said, “You might need a drink child.” Which was a pretty serious statement from someone very much clean and sober at the time.

But Flaco, was a perfect gentleman. He kissed my mother’s hand at the end of the night and she road home with me charmed as everyone was by Flaco’s attention.

I played several more shows with The Tornados before we parted ways.

Several years later Doug was gone… Freddy was too…. and I think of Augie and Flaco and miss our time together… and in my heart I am so grateful that I had my moment with the Godfathers of Tejano, these Kings of country music.