Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easter Sucks If You're Single

Easter Sucks Too

So here I sit chewing baby carrots and hoping to delay my seemingly failing eyesight celebrating Easter two thousand miles from the relatives chewing much finer meals.  I know I'm missing the great dinner we usually have.  It's been so long since I've had it I can't even remember what it is (Suddenly my sex life comes to mind for some reason as well). Anyway, it was great, Easter dinner at Wanda's that is.  I'd even do a road trip to DeWitt for it.  The hour in a car with my family is like four hours in the plane.  Granted I don't get cramped legs, and, unlike the airplane stalls, I can stand up in most of the rest rooms along the way without hunching over. I basically hate peeing on an angle to begin with. If I hunch over, it makes my gizmo harder to control flow-wise.  If I squat, my muscles tense up and I don't feel like I've emptied out all the way when I walk back out to my seat. And that loud sucking noise when I flush on a plane always scares the hell out of me, even though I know it's coming.  I stare at the toilet and think "Brace yourself, here comes that noise", but I flinch every time.  Then I get a big rush of mad adrenaline for letting myself jump, even though I knew the big suck sound was coming and.. eh, back to Easter dinner.... sorry.  

So, this time of year we're normally on our way to DeWitt for Easter dinner, and each year my family's musical tastes get more subdued while mine get more avante garde. "Are we there yet?" I ask ten minutes into the 90 minute drive. "Why must we listen to this insipid Classic Rock station? I hate Elvis.  I hate Led Zeppelin.  And I hate the Beatles!  They had one good album-what was it called?- Beat the Meatles?  Something like that."  My dad then proceeds to change to the country station making me wish I'd shut my mouth.  My mom starts singing with Willie Nelson at the top of her out of tune lungs and I join in creating further dissonance by improvising my own lyrics over Willie's. "Whiskey River take my mind/Don't let the IRS torture me/Whiskey River don't run dry/My ranch is gone, my ulcers bleed."  "Don't make fun of Willie Mike!" my mom says.  "Who would you like to make fun of then Mother?"  I ask.  "That better not be half a word son" she warns me.  My sister would blurt in "Why don't both of you shut up?"  and as she was saying it my mom would stick her finger in my sister's mouth and gag her.  They'd start fighting and as it turned out my dad would turn on some obscure sports event that even he himself hated just to shut everyone up.  "We hate the Lions Dad!"
I used to ride in the back when I was a kid, but my habit of blowing gum into the hair of whoever was sitting directly in front of me got me in preferred seating- or the front.  I'd say "Hey, I was only trying to blow a bubble and it came out of my mouth."  After about the third time I wasn't credible.  My mom kept flicking my ears with her fingers and I spent most of the trip stooped forward to the dash.  Occasionally my dad would slam on the brakes hard enough to make my nose bounce off the dash board.  The fighting was intense.  We stopped at a lot of rest areas on the way to patch wounds on our bodies and to re-supply the tissue for my nose bleeds. 

Ah, those were the good old days.  Trying to keep in the spirit of things even though the family isn't here is hard.  I could cook a nice
big dinner, but being by myself, it tends to be hard buying one garlic roll, one bowl of salad, ingredients for anything for that matter.  I thought about having rabbit, but that's a little morbid and all.  My neighbor has one of those huge pet rabbits that basically sit and do nothing.  She gives one to her snake every Easter.  She's a Pantera fan too.
I don't like candy as much anymore and as soon as I ask for grass to fill my Easter Basket, some cheesy store clerk starts offering me the imported kind that gets better as it gets older and costs much more than I'm willing to spend.  I remember when they used to sell this in bags, but now it seems they sell it by the ounce.  At least they could take that strong order out of it.  My allergies are very heavy this time of year and my eyes are red a great deal.  I suppose this could account for my seemingly innocent solicitation of Easter grass. I contemplated having an Easter egg hunt but several things discouraged me. 

First, me and egg dye never got along when I was a kid. I used to watch my dad drink Alka-Seltzer late at night sometimes and he'd let me put the pills in the glass and watch the pills fizz.  Then he'd drink it down and belch.  I was in awe.  Then, one cruel Easter Eve, my ma decides we're gonna dye eggs.  She sets these small colored tablets on the table next to the drying eggs (I could never figure out why she washed them when we peeled them anyway) and a cup of rather stinky vinegar.  "Smells like the lady next door when she hugs me" I noted, back when I was actually waist high on people.  My mom looked at me through an icy stare and told me never to say that again.  It was one of those deals where she was mad but I couldn't figure out why. I just knew she was dead serious. 
Anyway, I asked her what to do next and she instructed us to divide the tablets between me and my sister and drop them into the various cups of vinegar.  Of course there were always an odd number of color tablets and thus, every Easter Eve a fight ensued.  My ma got wise and would cut the last tablet in half.  By then, we were arguing over the one thing we did agree on:  The coolest egg sticker configuration.  Once again, she intervened by putting the sticker on the egg she did herself. 

After all the fuss, the tablets and stickers were finally divided evenly, though I started putting them on my dog, so I didn't have as many for the eggs.  My mom told us to put the tablets in the vinegar one at a time, which never made sense to me because I only had one free hand and six glasses, but I never questioned her at this point in the night.  The first time I ever did this myself, I was astounded at what took place before me.  The little blue tablet fizzed exactly like the Alka-Seltzer and, over-overwhelmed with excitement, I yelled "Watch you guys.  I'm like dad" and proceeded to entirely down the mercifully small cup of bubbling blue vinegar solution, followed by a large "BBBBRRRRRAAAAACCCCK!"  "Wow!  This stuffs awful!!  Why does dad drink this mom?  It makes my stomach hurt worse." She rushed me into the bath room mumbling the very words I'd had eaten soap for on more than one occasion and made me drink several glasses of water.  I didn't puke, but I wet the bed six times that night and my dad had to dry after his shower with a hand towel since I'd used all the big ones to sleep on.  "Is my tongue going to stay blue forever mom?" I asked her.  "Probably" she mumbled, as we went back to the kitchen.  I told Amy my tongue was blue forever and she stuck out her tongue.  It had a sticker on it.  It was a fun night for everyone.  My mom still talks about it whenever her AA friends come over.
Another issue discouraging my one man Easter egg hunt besides the fuss of dying and stickering was the hiding of the eggs.  I mean, how does one hide eggs from oneself?  I experimented with a couple of ideas as I didn't want God to think I'd given up on his resurrection party so easily.  I mean, the cat died and still rose to party with his disciples.  I figured the least I could do was come up with a few ideas on how to celebrate with him. 

First, I closed my eyes and threw several eggs about the room, hoping they'd roll under or into something. It was this experiment that abruptly reminded me that I'd forgotten to hard boil them first and, for the first time in twenty years, I figured out that mom hadn't washed the eggs after all, she'd hard-boiled them.  And I thought punch lines came to me slow.  The egg came off most things they hit fairly easily, but my posters ran and my vacuum cleaner smells funny now.  I kind of wished I hadn't use the entire dozen before I opened my eyes to start searching.  After a trip to the store for more eggs and a boiling session in the kitchen to give them a little more durability, I started the blender empty and, having the foresight of knowing the blades would ruin the eggs, I stuck a knife in the blades.  I not only dulled the blades but it did some serious damage to the knife as well.  All in the spirit of the event though, I ignored the impending expense and started throwing the hard-eggs into the blender set on "whip".  And whip it did.  I should have put one egg in at a time, but I was already behind schedule, so I dumped in about six.  The machine worked perfectly, as the first two eggs flew out and hit me right in the eye about eighty miles an hour or so.  Two more took out the kitchen windows and landed on the cars below in the parking lot, setting off their alarms and the last couple I still can't find.  I'm sure they'll reveal their location in about a week.

After my vision came back to a semi-focused phase, I thanked the guys from 911 on their quick arrival and for getting my eye sight
back at all.  Then, I went next door and asked my neighbor to come over hide my eggs for me and even gave her a few hints of places I'd be least likely to look.  "I'll let ya put 'em in my skivvies if you want!" She shut the door in my face. I yelled through the Armor Guard door "I mean the skivvies in my drawers!"  "Wait, I mean, the ones I'm not wearing, but the ones in... my... room"  I tapered off.  Who would have thought good sentence structure could make or break a lonely holiday? I got angry that she'd get so defensive so fast. "What's the problem lady, where's your Easter spirit? I boiled 'em this time, don't worry!"  People with Armor Guard doors always seem to be on some kind of power trip.  I'm thinking that maybe the black eyes were mistaken for a mask and she might have thought I was a robber.  Maybe it was the knife I used to dull the blender blades with that was still in my hand.  I suppose I'd be a little nervous if some 6'7" guy came to my door with bloody knuckles, two black eyes and a jagged kitchen knife asking me to participate in a hunt. Plus, it was getting late and I still hadn't accomplished what I'd set out to do- create the world's best solo Easter egg hunt. 

I went back inside and began to notice the night air had made my eyes itch right away.  Figuring I was moments away from a major sneeze attack, I instinctively reached for my back pocket and pulled out a hanky unexpectedly. Almost immediately I'd realized that the hanky was coming out of a pair of shorts I hadn't worn since last summer. I'd noticed the creases were rather defined in the rag. As I wiped my nose I started wondering just how many of my other pockets had old snot rags in them.  Then I got a brilliant idea (Some may question my choice of adjective here, but the way I look at it, no one else would be likely to think of this, so in that light, it may be considered "brilliant"-author.).  Instead of an Easter egg hunt, I'd have an Easter rag hunt!  This was really exciting because not only did I notice that some of my snot rags appeared to be missing last time I did my laundry, but also because my new apartment has two closets and, technically, three rooms. 

I started Easter morning with the hall closet and gazed at the pockets of the hanging articles.  A set of waders, a flannel hunting jacket with two pockets, an old winter coat, and three hockey jerseys.  Before I looked in the closet, I went to my drawer and counted the snot rags on hand.  There were eight.  I knew I had at least twice that.  I'd ditched two recently when a bag of pistachios caught up with my system on a nature hike and bathrooms were non-existent, but that's a different story.  Anyway, I went back to the living room and put Peter Cottontail on the tape player and started my hunt.  It started out with a real bang too.
The green buffalo plaid jacket pocket tops were sitting funny over the buttons and I knew something was in there. I pulled out the hardened cotton excitedly, knowing it'd been months since I had worn that jacket.  It must have been a light day and as I felt the rag, I guessed by weight and volume the rag dated to September the previous year (about eight months ago).  I'd remembered packing it for my fishing trip and wiping my wet hands on it several times, trying to get the spawn off my fingers.  The other pocket had my spawn in it, still in the tube fortunately.  One rag on the first try.  Not bad.

I checked the winter jacket I hadn't worn since my days at the airline.  I was really anxious now.  This baby has seven pockets.  Four out front, one on the sleeve, and two inside.  Tearing through the coat, I found two more booger vaults, far more crusty than the previous, which made sense because I really cough up the phlegm and blow my nose a lot in the winter.  These rags had to be really old because they were the monogrammed ones my grandma gave me to use with my suits so I could look professional while I blew my nose.  I had been wondering why they hadn't been in the laundry.  I got an additional bonus in that they were so old and "used" that they had changed colors.  This made it seem more authentic in the sense that they were kind of dyed like the eggs would be.  I also found some old receipts from a trip to Denny's in Belleville, and thirty eight cents in change.  The bedroom would be next and I knew this would be an adventure.  I'd check the laundry baskets first, then folded clothes on the shelf, and last, the hanging clothes. 
In the whites, mixed with my BVD's and ever darkening socks, I found five more snot savers of varying consistency.  In fact, some of them hadn't even been used, but I must have put them in there just because I wasn't sure if someone may have borrowed it or (s)not. 
The tainted textiles were easy to pick out (no pun intended) because of the slightly different colors.  The green ones were days of heavy antihistamine, the yellow, days I toughed it out without medication.  Some just stuck, but had no color at all.  I checked the shirt basket and came up empty handed, but the jeans basket produced three more, one in each dirty pair.  The one rag wasn't dirty but smelled like smoke still from the bar even though it was in my pocket.  I try not to blow my nose in bars.  I'm just not comfortable with it for some reason. 

With the tissue tally at seventeen, I moved to the top shelf of the closet and expected to make a killing.  After all, most all of my pants are up there folded.  I started with the jeans and found a pair in the jeans I'd worn to casual day at my last project.  It was lightly soiled, as the dusty files I was reviewing upset my sinuses, but it wasn't bad.  Mostly dry sneezes.  I unexpectedly found one in a pair of swim trunks, but that made sense as these were pool shorts and I don't blow snot in the pool.  I see other people do it and it really bugs me.  I've left when I've seen people clear their fingers by treading water with them.  Granted, lakes have fish poop and all, but I don't see them do it, you know?  I mean, would you swim in my snot even if I offered to dilute it for you?  I "thinks not".

Last of all was the hanging items.  I found one in my suit pocket from last week, two in separate pairs of fall/winter dress pants that were at least a couple of months old, and then the grand finale, my new winter coat, complete with two snot rags loaded with Mt. Bachelor boogers from Oregon.  They sounded just like hard boiled eggs as I pulled the corners of the cloth apart and I contemplated eating them to capture the spirit of the moment.  I know it sounds gross but it really isn't so outrageous.  In my day, I've drank Pine-Sol, eaten raw bacon, and munched on sand (thank goodness I'm allergic to cats), sucked on strawberry shampoo, and partook in peat moss (full face helmets are definitely the way to go). God knows what I may have tried back when I was still a kid.  The colors were beautiful and varied amongst the rags.  They ranged from lemon yellow to chartreuse to sea green to pine green. At times, it seemed as if my sinuses had inspired the creation of Ireland.  You know, the "forty shades of green".  Maybe that's how God came up with Ireland.  He blew his nose and said "Cool.  I think I can use this".  God has a use for everything.  Even snot.

The rag I found in a suit in the far corner of my closet was the best though.  The suit was slated to end up at the good will store. The hanky even made a "peeling" sound as I removed it from the pocket it stuck too.  They rarely stick to the pocket. I could hardly wait the extra fraction of a second to see it. It came out a combination of white, banana yellow, dark red, blood brown, and with some small traces of black.  I last wore that suit a when I worked at the window place four years ago.  I reflected on the moment and then it dawned on me when that rag had last served its purpose:

It was late spring/early summer back in Michigan and I was on my way home from Flat Rock to South Lyon.  I crept up on the final eight mile stretch of road to my home and I was sneezing so hard and continuously, I almost had to pull over.  Being adventurous, I just drove on to see how it would affect my driving skills if I blew my brains into my hand while going 60 miles per hour.  Would the right hemisphere of my brain come out the right nostril and the left out the left?  Would I still be smart enough to drive a standard shift truck with my brain in my rag?  Would I start to like WJR, Paul Harvey, Tony Bennett, and the AM radio ideology in general?  Can one still see without a brain or would my eyes become windows to my pumpkin like hollow head?  Should I pull the guy over in front of me in the double yellow section and tell him the speed limit is ten miles per hour faster than his stupid '73 Pinto is going with the I Eat Small Children. U Got a Problem With That?  bumper sticker. Or should I just rear end him hard and make his death trap explode, feeling no guilt because my brain is buried in my snot rag now and I can no longer have a conscience even if I wanted to? 

I counted my sneezes as I hit Beck Road and Ten Mile that night and headed home -eight miles even.  I sneezed twenty times a mile. No exaggeration. No lie. My nose was bleeding out both sides when I got home.  One hundred sixty sneezes in less than eight minutes (Yes, for you mathematical geniuses, I was speeding...).  I held the rag in my hand for a moment, noting that even after three years, it still felt a little heavier than the clean ones, though it finally was dry.  The moment was too emotional and I lost my composure and began to cry.  I gathered myself momentarily knowing I had the bonus egg/rag.  The grand tee-tah.  I dabbed my eye with the nasty nose goblin net, and laid it to rest in a place where such a work of art can be truly appreciated for what it is:  at the art exhibit in Sacramento.  I told them it was an original and one of a kind Dali Batik, "according to the elderly lady in San Francisco", who sold it to me at a garage sale with a picture from Sears I just had to have.  I said I was a little too old to be playing with dollies and she enthusiastically agreed and asked me how much I'd like for it.  She looked as if she'd drool.  I said make me an offer and she gave me $100 and I said "Are you sure lady?"  She said "A deals a deal" and proceeded to literally snatch the rag from my hand and immediately shut down her display two hours early, hurrying me and her newly acquired rare treasure out the door with her.  She even told her boss on the way out she quit.

I took the hundred to a nice restaurant up the street called Crickets, a "Biker Breakfast Bar" by it's own admission (everything's biker something these days) and bought a ten dollar all-u-can-eat Easter dinner buffet.  I gave the waitress a ninety dollar tip and she asked me out.  I said I'd rather eat inside so my food didn't get cold as fast.  We hit it off immediately.  She gave me an extra glass of OJ on the way out and I went home and laid on the grass reflecting on this sunny Easter Day.  It was a unique day in its own right, my snot rag expedition, though it was quality time spent (Quality is subjective).  However, I still missed Grandma Kowalczyk's famous Easter dinner, and without Wanda's wing ding cooking, Easter's just snot the same.

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