Dad’s Crab Dinner


On Valentines Day, 1994, my dad called us from work to tell us he  got a job promotion.

“Hell yeah, we’re going to celebrate tonight!” shouted my mom, as she hung up the phone. My sister and I cheered, because we knew what “celebrate” probably meant: A Fancy Seafood Dinner

My family was a low-budget household. We ate lots of hamburger helper.  Tuna  toast. Things from boxes, spruced up with canned vegetables (fresh produce was both  costly, and not terribly abundant during  icy Minnesota winters). Aside from fish sticks, seafood was  a rare luxury, and reserved for straight-A report cards, birthdays, and the occasional harrowing doctor’s visit.

We all assumed we’d be going to Red Lobster that night to celebrate the big promotion, but my dad surprised us by coming home with an armful of Alaskan king crab legs instead.

“These were on sale at Rainbow!” said my dad. “We’ll eat like Alaskan kings tonight!”

After swallowing our collective disappointment knowing that Red Lobster was no longer a possibility, my mom brought out a giant kettle, filled it with water, and snapped open a tube of Pillsbury biscuits. My dad popped some champagne, lit some candles for atmosphere, and put on his favorite Moody Blues CD. It was party time.

In the midst of the meal production, the phone rang.

“Skjerly residence, this is big bad Randy speaking.” said my dad.  By this time, he was about three glasses of champagne into the evening’s festivities. “Greetings Gregg. Why yes,  my eldest daughter is here. Do you wish to speak with her? Hold please.”

My dad looked at me, and flicked his tongue twice. This was The Signal to indicate my boyfriend Gregg* (name changed to protect privacy)  was calling. Why did he do this? Because he was certain that Gregg was some sort of lizard creature.

“His teeth are too small, and his gums are too big” my dad said, after meeting Gregg for the first time.  “And his eyes are too far apart. Never trust anyone with their eyes too far apart because they’re criminals.”

I took the phone. Gregg informed me he was getting off work early and wanted to hang out. Though I’d been excited to finally celebrate Valentine’s day proper-style with an actual boyfriend (my first one!) Gregg had already given me a long speech about how stupid and commercial Valentine’s day is and how he doesn’t recognize it as a holiday. (Note: This didn’t stop me from writing him a sappy poem for him that I planned to share as soon as I saw him again.)

I told Gregg we were celebrating my dad’s job promotion, and that he was welcome to join us for crab dinner if he wanted. Though Gregg was a vegetarian, he accepted the invitation, and said he’d just eat the side dishes. Cool.

So, there we all were, sitting around the table: Me, my mom, my little sister Laura, my dad, and Gregg. Laura, who wasn’t a fan of crab, took the job of cracking the crab legs for us. She’d grab some crab, crush it with a nutcracker, and throw  it to whoever was next up for a bite. Sometimes she’d make the crab legs dance first. Sometimes she’d open and close the claws menacingly.

“Isn’t it kind of weird that crabs are sea spiders and we eat them?” I said, dipping my crab leg into a bowl of hot garlic butter, and sucking down the sweet meat inside.

“Ooooh, I’m a big sea spidah! Don’t eat me madam!” my sister shouted, in the voice of Sebastian the Crab from the movie Little Mermaid.

Everyone was having such  a  festive time that nobody noticed Gregg was no longer nibbling at his biscuits, and  his skin was starting to turn gray.  When my sister accidentally hit him in the face with a crab claw while pitching to my dad, Gregg cleared his throat and asked, in a small creaky voice, if he might be excused.

We all stared at him, baffled. Nobody in the history of our family dinners had ever formally asked to be excused from the table.  We always just roll up, plow our plates, and leave the table belching whenever we’re done.

“Suuuure,” said my dad.

Gregg disappeared, presumably to the bathroom. My dad flicked his tongue twice at me.

“Daaaaad!” I shouted through clenched teeth. “Stop it!”

After about 10 minutes, Gregg had not returned to the table.

“Do you think he’s dead?” asked my Dad, with the a hint of a hopeful look.

“Err….Maybe I should go look for him,” I said.

I searched around for Gregg. He wasn’t in the bathroom. He wasn’t in the backyard. Had he gone home? Then I heard it. A strange noise in the basement. It sounded almost like someone was rolling something. A wagon? A rolling pin? Marbles?

I ventured southward, and  there I  found Gregg in the vegetable bin, rocking back and forth on his skateboard and groaning.

“What’s wrong Gregg,  are you sick?” I asked, reaching out my hand to him.

At first he said nothing, just kept rocking. Finally, he said. “The crab….The cracking…It…reminded me of…of…oohhhhhhhh….so….awful….”

I thought perhaps he had a traumatic childhood crab memory that had surfaced over dinner.  Was he attacked by a crab on a trip to Florida perhaps? Did he eat some bad seafood once and get food poisoning? Or, was it the noise itself…”The cracking.” Lighting? Baseball bats? So many things can make a cracking sound.

“It’s okay, you can tell me,” I said, stroking his damp hair.

“Oh god. The cracking reminded me of….of the Jews in Schindler’s List”

A week earlier, we had  seen the movie Schindler’s List. Like most people in the theater that evening,  were both moved to tears. Gregg, in particular,  was so moved by the film that he fell into a 48 hour funk, which included sour naps and rumination about the evils of humanity. However, it seemed we’d moved on with our lives since then.

But….how?” I asked.  I was genuinely perplexed at the connection between crab legs and Jews. No doubt, the Nazis inflicted terrible atrocities on Jews, and many other people during the holocaust. Unspeakable horrors, each one worse than the next. But, to my knowledge, there weren’t any Nazis who boiled the legs of Jews, and ate them with garlic butter. I mean, the Nazis were a sick bunch, but….cannibalism?

“You don’t…..get it,” he said, shooting me a patronizing look.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and continued to stroke his head. And then, I remembered something! The Valentines Poem I had written for him, folded up in my pocket.  I figured this would surely cheer him up.

“Hey, I know you don’t like Valentine’s day, but I wrote you a little poem anyway,” I said, fishing out the piece of paper from my jeans. It was decorated with vampire hearts because we were goths. I handed it to him.

“My love for you is  a midnight sun.

A hot thing, shining through darkness.

I was lost, but you’ll find me all the time,

I was scattered, but you brang me home.

Now I’m not so totally alone,

And now, I must  bid adieu.

All I have to say is  Gregg I love you.”

He looked at it for a long long time. My face got hot. Why was he so quiet?

“Well….?” I asked, expecting him to leap into my arms.

“Please……don’t ever do anything like this again,” he said, frowning at me.

“Oh,” I said, “Sorry.”

“It’s fine, whatever, it’s just…it’s embarrassing….”

I felt like I wanted to die. The pound of crab meat in my belly started churning. I put the poem on top of some canned peas, and fought back tears.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

I can’t remember what happened right after that. Probably we kissed and made up.  What I do remember is coming home from school  the next day and finding the Valentines’ poem on my bed. From 20 feet away, I could see that there was a note attached to it, in my dad’s loopy wild red-pen scrawl. (Note: my dad is a writer, and former English teacher)

“Bean. Nice poem you wrote there! Lovely images with the midnight sun. But be careful of mixing verb tenses.”

It didn’t take the sting away from Gregg’s episode at the crab leg dinner, but I felt validated by my dad’s note–especially because I was a wannabe writer, and emulated him in every way. Though Valentine’s Day is sorta ruined for since that incident, I would still sit down and crack some crab with my dad any day, because he makes everything fun.

Happy Father’s day, Dad!


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War on the Roses

Last year, I spent a whole day in the back yard
trying to evict the roses from their hard,  drought-cracked beds.
My goal, (I guess) , was to plant vegetables or succulents in their place. something useful, something hardy.
And besides, those roses are diseased as fuck, I told myself. When they bloomed,  IF they bloomed they wore dirty neon pink and yellow tie-dye shirts, like crooked sideshow hippies.

“It’s for the greater good” I said, taking my spade in hand, and thus I began my eviction proceedings.

The smaller rose bushes on the far right of the bed came out easy enough. I dug up their tuber feet, and hacked and whacked with my hedge clippers until there was nothing left but holes.

The last rose bush,  however, which I presumed was the Big Mama Bush,  met me and my garden spade with surprising ferocity.
After whacking her down to the nubs, I started digging mightily.
As soon as I got deep enough into the soil,  I put my foot on her underroots,  and pushed with all my might and this is where we brawled.



I should have known she was stronger than me.
Perhaps with a shovel, things would have gone down differently.
I yanked, kicked, yelled “Motherfucker give it up, bitch!!”
Big Mama Rose stayed strong. I managed to sever a few roots, and kick her askew.
But I couldn’t dislodge her.

Eventually, sweating, exhausted, I collapsed next to her.
Two banged up prize fighters, trying to catch a breath.
I stared into the earth where her roots were jutting out from the soil
like middle fingers. My own fingers were all blisters.
I may wage many idiotic battles in my life, but thank god  I know when to accept defeat.

“You win,” I said, patting Big Mama Rose on her snapped spine.  “Good game.”

And then  I left her there, half dug up, and cut to the nubs.
I didn’t water her.
I assumed she would just die off. That after several months of drought
and the licking I gave her, she’d wither and die.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.


One year later, she’s thriving, and better than ever!
She’s spitting out babies, her blooms extra potent, extra gaudy
almost mocking.

I’m not bothered anymore by the roses.  Big Mama Rose is no longer my enemy
but my totem.
I’m amazed at what blooms of  life can burst violently
from violence and wreckage.
How severed roots can flip the bird
How drought, aphids and middle-aged women with garden spades
Have fought to destroy her.
How beauty finds a way to triumph over destruction, always.




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Are you always that scary?

Usually, when I get a message on OKCupid like the one below,  I just ignore. I pretty much ignore everybody who writes me,  unless it seems like there’s a fraction of a chance that they might not suck. Which turns out to be 1/2 of .00001 percent of people who write me.

My ignoring, by the way,  isn’t a form of snobbery, like “ooh, I’m soooo much better.”  It’s more like I don’t want to provoke men to anger by saying no.  Men do not take rejection well, I’ve found. Better to just let them think I just didn’t get their message, or am in the hospital undergoing a kidney transplant.

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling less afraid of saying no or passing. And so, I’m writing back to the guys who are particularly irksome, or clueless. My responses vary according to the flavor of the message, and arrogance of the person writing.

Side note: I sometimes wonder if the source of all  misogyny in the world is the result of just one really pissed off dude  from ancient history, who got rejected by a lady, and managed to convince his buddies, —because he was also a good convincer of people—that women are the root of all evil. And those buddies, convinced their buddies. Fast forward to the internet, MRA assholes, Okcupid dicks,  and gamer gate.






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Why yes. My cat DOES have big balls. Thank you for noticing.

A few months ago, I adopted a new cat.  He’s an orange,  3 year old tiger-stripe named Willis; former feral gang member turned shelter staff favorite.  I adopted him through the fantastic Cat Town Cafe, where my roommate volunteers. (Of course, I had a personal cat consultant.)
Here, have some photos!
The  details of my first few months with Willis  are being inked into a comic strip, which I may or may not share with y’all depending on how it shakes out. But for now, I need to talk about  a Willis-related subject which comes up whenever I introduce him to a new friend:
When I was first asked this question, I answered the person rather  dismissively, “Oh, I don’t know. I guess he’s just blessed or something.” And then I probably laughed in a  creepy way.  But the truth is, I hadn’t even noticed Willis’s enormous balls until someone pointed it out to me! Honest.  Despite full and conscious recognition that Willis is very buff and built like a feline ken doll, I failed to give his balls a thorough looksy. Who looks at a cats balls anyway?
“Is he…. neutered?” The friend will invariably ask.
“Yeah, yeah.  The  Cat Town sent me his vet records, and he has definitely for sure been neutered… But you know…… He wasn’t neutered until three months ago. So maybe that has something to do with it?”
“Oh, that probably explains it.” They will say.
“Yup. More meatloaf?”
“Sure, I’ll have some more.”
What usually  follows is 5-10 seconds where my friend and I  eat some meatloaf, and stare openly into my cats crotch— as if it’s one of those magic-eye paintings from the 90’s, waiting for the schooner to appear.
“Y’know….I always thought they took the balls off with neutering.” The friend will then say, after a few more awkward seconds. “His are just so….so…”
“Nah,” I’ll say,  “They just, y’know…snip the little tube thingy, so the sperms can’t get out of the nut sack.” (Note: I am an actual certified sexual health educator)
Truth is, I didn’t actually know the procedure for neutering male cats at all, and was only guessing at it based on what I know about human vasectomies.  As each  new friend met Willis, and proceeded to make more or less the same comments, I began to grow  more and more unsure that the vet records I was sent from Cat Town were accurate. I too, had never seen cat balls that freakishly large before. Whereas a normal neutered cat might have balls the size of two baby bumblebees, Willis has two jumbo fuzzy dice hanging from his tail, like the dashboard of a Florida hillbilly.  Maybe CatTown made a mistake with vet records? People make mistakes, right? Of course they do.
So I typed “How can I tell if my cat is neutered?” Into a search engine. This led me down a very dark hole of horrors and graphic close-ups of cat testicles.  Turns out, there’s no way to know for sure if your cat is neutered or not, unless you give your cats balls a good squeeze.
Though my doubts and curiosity were strong, they weren’t strong enough to get me to feel up my cat. No way. But I also couldn’t rest until I knew for sure that he was neutered. I had to find out!
So, I emailed Cat Town.
So there you have it. The final word. Willis the cat  is WITHOUT A DOUBT neutered, but because he wasn’t neutered until he was 3 years old, he had three years of marinating in his own testosterone and masculinity. This resulted in beefiness, and huge balls, which will slowly, over time, shrink down to a normal cat ball size when he out-gasses his excess hormones.
So, if you want to come see a cat with the biggest balls you’ve ever seen, nows the time!  I’m selling tickets right now at $25.00 a pop, or two for $40. Step right up!
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I’m still so popular on Facebook. But why?

Hey.  Remember three weeks ago, when I made a half-assed comment on an ad for eyebrow gel on facebook, and it  became THE MOST POPULAR COMMENT and then LEE FORD took over with her shitty comment and usurped me?

Well, I have updates:

  1. Lee Ford’s eyebrow gel  comment  is GONE. I know y’all are  looking at me, but I have nothing to do with it. Seriously. I know I’m like a really big deal, and have great power and control over  many minions who could Tonya Harding the shit out of Lee Ford, but I honestly had nothing to do with it. But am I glad? Oh hell yes.
  2. Despite the fact that none of my facebook friends can find the original link to the eyebrow-gel ad in question, my  popularity on the comments page  has been SKYROCKETING. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THIS IS.


3. A few super- lame bitches have been trying to start flame wars with me, on the comments section with the dumbest comments ever. For instance, Ms. Samantha Spears:



I gotta admit. This comment mystified me. “Just like your dreams.” How does Samantha Spears know about my dreams?   Does she think “Revlon Brow Fantasy” is an actual, uh…..fantasy ? and not (as it is) a cheap eyebrow gel sold at Walgreens?  If so, what kinds of brow fantasies could I possibly be having?  Do I daydream about being nuzzled by a pair of friendly eyebrows?   Does she wonder why, in lonely moments,  I’ve  drawn up several shakey prototypes of a body pillow-sized eyebrow that I can snuggle up to at night?

Then, there’s  Kelcy Walton WHO SHOULD  BE DISQUALIFIED FROM EVERYTHING  IN LIFE  because she spells Kelsey with a C.


I’m glad that KelCy acknowledges the fact that nobody asked me. Asked me what??? I have no idea. For my  opinions on brow-gel?  For a detailed description of my spindly  eyebrows that are the result of my mom shaving off my eyebrows as a child AND THEM NEVER GROWING BACK? (true story.)   I have to assume, since KelCy neglected to include a comma, that she means “No one fkn asked Arlene ABOUT ANYTHING.” Which is true. Often, I feel like people should just ask me. About anything. Because I can answer stuff. About anything. Thanks, KelCy! (PS: congratulations on all your hundreds of FB engagement photos! That must have taken a lot of work. Glad to know that your fiance still loves you, even though you troll eyebrow-gel ads )

So there you have it, everyone. Stay tuned for more!

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Deconstructing Dickweeds on OkCupid

I have had what you could call,  a tumultuous long-term relationship with online dating over the last several years. (Here’s an old blog I kept of some of my horror dates)  Sometimes it’s great, and I meet someone cool.  Other times, I meet someone so sadly  bizarre and depraved I wonder if I’m participating in Real Life.  Then, there are other times I myself am that person.

Anyway, I’ve basically grown to the point where, I only log in to my dating profile so I can read the profiles and messages I get out loud in different accents. I don’t go on dates really.  Sometimes I write back to assholes, because I feel like picking a fight with someone from far far away–especially when I’m raging with PMS. And sometimes, I just gotta laugh.

Consider this asshole.

He wrote to  me from North Carolina or something. Though I explicitly state “Locals Only” in my profile in huge, ALL-CAPS neon letters,  this guy writes anyway.   So, my rule is, I don’t hollerback a clown who can’t read  my  profile. You dig?  UNLESS OF COURSE HE WRITES ABOUT HIS DEAD WIFE. Then, my sympathy strings plucked, I decided to  write him back to clarify. (Even though by then, I was  already cheesed at the fact that he just “decided” for me that age/distance wasn’t a barrier.


Dot. dot. dot.

Is he….maybe a little slow, I thought?



And here is where any iota of pity I may have had for this  sad stupid man dried up and caught fire, the flames fanned to great and dangerous  heights by my PMS.

I hated that this dude  called me “a lady”, when my uterus was ready to explode blood.  I hated that he thought I was “understanding.”   I hated his stupid Gavin Newsom haircut,  his lame attempt at humor, his weird use of the word “International” to describe someone,   and yes, I even hated  his stupid dead wife, who he mentioned, not only in his first message to me, but at least THREE TIMES in his profile bio, which isn’t (at least in my mind) some form of “radical sharing” by a sensitive wounded  guy who’s putting it all out there…it’s just creepy and manipulative. Why are you pushing your dead wife into us, breh? BREH. THAT IS A HEAVY BURDEN TO GIVE A STRANGE WOMAN.

I decided this needed to end once and for all. So, after crafting several eviscerating drafts,  worthy of scum manifesto awards,  I settled on this, and decided If he writes back I’ll report him to the online dating authorities, and block his ass.



And guess what………He wrote back!





Heres to love and idiocy  in the digital age, y’all.

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Market Hall freaks me out


Much like the Original Berkeley Bowl,  Market Hall in Rockridge totally  freaks me out.

I guess I sorta believe in all that feng shui shit. I mean, in the sense that…certain kinds of  store layouts and aisle design can cause chaos and confusion  in certain kinds of specially challenged brains.

Like mine.

I never go to Berkeley Bowl on a Sunday afternoon, because  I’m afraid I’ll beat a hippie to death with a spelt baguette.  And I try to avoid Market Hall entirely–even though it’s right by my house. Because it’s expensive.  And  also because one evening,  I went full-on Rain Man  sensory-meltdown, trying to navigate their line/cue system.  

I can’t remember what I was purchasing that night. Probably some cheese, or pickled free-range kumquats. (the uszh)  Anyway, I was standing in what I thought was the check-out line.  BUT I GUESS I WASN’T.

“Ma’am you need to be in that line over there,” said an irritated looking woman behind me.

“Oh, which line?” I asked, turning around, looking at the woman. She looked like almost every  other women in my neighborhood–28 going on 68. Tired, hungry, and probably hasn’t gotten laid since New Years Eve 1979.

“That one,” she said, pointing. “That one over there.”

There were at least three lines!!

“Ma’am!” shouted  one of the cashiers third line over, looking right at me, beckoning me with a gloved hand.

Aha!  Yes. Direction from the staff. I will follow obediently. I walked, stiltedly towards the cashier, disturbing line # 2 as I pushed between it to the other side.

“Excuse me, sorry,” I muttered.

“No– Ma’am-MA’AM!” shouted a random older dude, as I continued my frankenstein rampage through the lines.

“M’am— she’s saying go to THAT other line over there!”shouted the irritated woman. I turned around.


Too many voices!  Shouting! Pointing!  Calling me Ma’am!  WHAT DO THEY WANT ME TO DO.  I froze, and  everything went all white-noise.  People yelled,but I couldn’t tell what they were saying anymore, however, their faces looked super hostile and exasperated.   I felt like I was in that scene in Clockwork Orange where the old folks  gathered  around Malcom McDowell, and caned him to near-death. Why are they shouting so many shouts at me?  

And then, one of the cashiers actually came out from behind the cash register counter, and took me by the elbow like nurse Ratched.  “Are we going to the pillow room?” I wanted to ask. “My teeth itch. I want some jello with grapes in it, and then the green pills.”

“Just come over to this register, ma’am.” said the cashier,  and I marched alongside her, as the other folks in line sighed and tsked, and wondered out loud what the problem was with me. 

I bought my groceries, and I fled Market Hall.

And now, I never go back to Market Hall if I can help it , unless it’s for the awesome pizza at the bakery in the front, because, after all,  it’s only just one line. 


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Lee Ford, you’re going down


I’ve done some pretty wacky things  to get attention on the internet in my day. I’ve sexually propositioned Nigerian spammers.   I’ve forced hapless roommates into meatball costumes and then force-fed them tomatoes, while filming them.  I’ve stripped to a 7 foot merkin on stage and rapped about pubes (way before Amanda Palmer did that shit y’all). I even enjoyed a brief stint as a Charles Manson impersonator. Y’know. Stuff.

But despite all of these wacky  things, I remain resolutely unpopular on the internet.  Which means, the only people who are really looking at anything I post online  are my sweet parents (who are beyond being traumatized by now),  a few friends, and some rando pervs from Ukraine. (Note: I am definitely okay remaining an underground phenomena) 

Well….. my true fame came to me last week, when I saw an ad for eyebrow gel pop up on Facebook, and decided to comment on it.  I was waiting at the train station and didn’t think much about it. I didn’t read the ad, didn’t watch the video. Only  saw the headline and felt compelled to react. 


I HAD NO IDEA I WOULD SUDDENLY RISE TO FAME from my stupid comment. That my star would shoot to the moon, and continue to spit stardust and rainbows  almost a week after the initial comment was made.  I WAS THE # 1 COMMENT FOR FOUR DAYS. I watched as my likes climbed ever higher….100, 125, 150…..Where I can I go to accept my award, bitches? Should I prepare a speech now? 


And then, last night, I saw that I was NO LONGER THE MOST POPULAR COMMENT.

Fuckin’ Lee Ford overtook me, by at least 20 likes. Just LOOK AT HER STUPID  DUMB COMMENT.


Let’s deconstruct:

“Her eyebrows look really sloppy.”  Sloppy?  Who the fuck  has sloppy brows?   I’ve only known one person who had sloppy eyebrows, and that was my mom’s aunt Jeannie. Jeannie didn’t have eyebrows at all, and so she drew two straight lines in her forehead with a pencil,  to indicate perpetual bewilderment. This is reaching, Lee Ford,  and you know it. REACHING HARD. 

“There is no difference in the before and after…” Okay Lee. You win this one.  I didn’t actually watch the video, because I don’t care enough.   I’ve been using the same eye-brow product faithfully for dozens of years:  REVLON BROW FANTASY.   So, I didn’t feel compelled to lift a finger to press play on the video. But I can say, without a doubt, that’s a minute of your  life YOU’LL NEVER GET BACK. What did I do with my minute? Well, I made a grocery list, balanced my checking account, and I got laid. Bam. 

Finally, what kind of name is Lee Ford? You’re not a dead  presidential candidate.  You’re also not a wilderness tour guide, or an insurance broker. You’re definitely NOT an Alabama Realtor. So who’s the real Lee? Do you enjoy living your life as a lie? COME OUT WITH IT LEE FORD. THE WORLD WANTS YOUR REAL NAME.

And lastly, the absence of punctuation on “What am I missing here    ” Is this a rhetorical? Did you fall asleep before you had a chance to include a question mark?   You should lose some likes for bad punctuation, Lee. If I had the power to remove them myself I would, but it looks like  I’ll have to message all of your followers to ask them to reconsider their liking your comment, one by one. 

I have no other choice at this point, to regain my honor. I hereby summon you LEE FORD  to the BATTLE OF THE BROW.  Meet me next Friday, high noon, at the corner of Shattuck and Allston way and we’ll SEE WHO’S THE REAL WINNER. 


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Naked, afraid and stumbling

Hey kids, here’s another spa story.

Last year, I made the mistake of forgetting my contact lenses for a spa trip. Because of this error, and because of my Mr. Magoo-level nearsightedness I was left with two rather bleak choices:

  1. Wear my  glasses in the spa. Get sweaty.  Glasses slide off my sweaty face, into hot tub. Swim around hot-tub looking for glasses. Grab a titty by mistake. Get thrown out of spa.
  2. Go without glasses, and spend afternoon sitting  naked in broom closet thinking it is dry sauna. Complain to coat rack about the dry sauna not being hot enough. Urinate in washing bowl, thinking it’s toilet.


Fortunately, my friend and (spa partner) offered an alternative solution:

“I have a little satchel thingy,” She said.  “Why don’t you just carry it around with you. You can put your glasses in it when you’re using the hot tub/sauna, and wear your glasses when you’re walking around so you don’t bump into people.”

And  that, my pals, is just what I did.The satchel strategy  worked quite well, until I got into the dry sauna. I put my towel out on the bench, placed the satchel above my head and stretched out to enjoy a good 5 minutes of sweating it out.




Ohshitohshit. My glasses. Fallen down!  Deep into the cracks of somewhere! 

“Okay. Listen. Whatever you do. Don’t panic” I told myself. Of course, my body never listens to any of  that horseshit. STAMPEDE! said my body. STAMPEDE! With a jolt I sat up, and kicked some woman in the head who was lying below me.


“Sorry!” I whispered.

It was useless to try and look for the glasses myself. Because the light was dim, you see, and because everything around me looked like a mash of golden brown wood  with blobs of pink and tan (indicating people).

I needed help. Julie. Need to find Julie friend.  

I carefully lowered myself down from my perch, and stumbled out into the main spa room. I walked slowly, deliberately, with huge eyes, like a wide-awake sleepwalker, searching for a blurry pink smear that looked like my friend Julie. I couldn’t just say “HEY JULIE!” because there’s a no talking rule at the spa. (They will sound a gong if people are talking).  All I could do was slowly lumber about, turning my head this way and that.

Finally,  I found her.

“Hey, Julie” I whispered. “I dropped my glasses in the dry sauna, and I can’t find them! Can you help me?”

“I’m not Julie,” whispered the female voice. “Sorry!”

I continued my naked shamble around the periphery, swaying my head this way and that. Then, I spotted a pink smear with a black circle in the middle. Julie’s tattoo!! Julie!!

“Hey, Julie,” I whispered. “I dropped my glasses in the dry sauna. Can you help me?”

“Oh dear. Sure mama,” she whispered. (THANK GOD I GOT THE RIGHT PERSON)

We  both went into the dry sauna, to search, and found the glasses. They had fallen down to the bottom row of benches.

And this is why, whenever I go to the spa with Julie now, she reminds me 1,000 times to bring my contact lenses. 

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An old woman farted on me at the spa (and I totally deserved it)


Okay. Let me preface this story  by saying, I am always painfully aware of, and and  polite to old people. I always offer my seat on the train, and I have gone out of my way to help older folks when the situation calls for it–sometimes way out of the way. (See why Helping the Elderly is Dangerous)

However, on this particular day, I was feeling a little….I dunno,  selfish I guess. My friend Julie and I were on our bi-annual Japantown spa retreat and my only mission was to try, for a few hours, to live  the impossible dream of  “relaxation”

So, there I was, sprawling on top of a long wooden plank bench. Cooling off from the dry sauna, and drinking some ice  water with a refreshing lemon slice. Doing what I do best: staring creepily at strangers. 

I watched as an  older woman got out of the hot tub. She looked to be in her late 60’s. Red-faced, and not at all serene looking.  In fact she seemed to be distressed, and as she walked towards my bench, she threw me a withering look.  “Oh dear. Should I do something?” I wondered. “Should I ask if she’s okay? If she needs help?  Should I offer my bench even though she hasn’t asked for it? IS THAT WHAT SHE’S TRYING TO TELL ME?”

Instead I did nothing. An impish little voice in my head said  “Slow your roll, boss. Let her be. If she wants the bench she’ll ask for it. Just cuz she’s old doesn’t mean she’s in distress. Just enjoy your bench, and your lemon water, honky.”

So I did. I leaned back.  I did not offer the older lady my bench. I felt a little bit guilty, but the guilt soon melted away into something relatively- akin to relaxation.  (Since I’ve never in my life achieved full relaxation, the best I can ever hope for is merely  a non-spastic state).

Not long after,  another woman got out of the hot pool, and walk towards my bench. This woman was much older than the previous  woman (probably in her 80’s). I am loathe to admit, my first thought was “Wow, so much old naked flesh, a comin’ right at me! AAAAK!” Stretch marks. Sag bags.  Wobbly puckered thighs.  Intricate webs of purple veins climbing up her legs like ivy. Breasts that pointed down to the earth like arrows–pointing to the place where you, me, she and all of the rest of us, will  one day sleep forever. 

Understand that while I was quietly horrified,  I was also feeling shitty for being horrified, because I truly do  believe all body shapes and sizes and ages should be celebrated–ESPECIALLY the olds!   If someone gets to 80 and they can still enjoy a good soak in a spa, we should throw confetti, and shout hallelujah at their miraculous staying power.   Instead I’m thinking “Ew, gross. So much weird saggy skin! Wobblies! Blue and purple floppyflaps. Death!!!”

As the old woman walked past me, she let  a mighty one rip.  A big, bullhorn fart that reverberated a few moments, and left me tits-deep  in a cloud of sulfur.

I sat up, grabbed my towel, and vacated the bench. I made a beeline to the water cooler, and then back to the dry sauna.  As I opened the door to the dry sauna, I looked over my shoulder, and saw that the wobbly old woman was now  on the bench where I was laying only a minute ago–apparently immune to her own noxious fumes.

Good for her, I thought. Brilliant strategy. I then scribbled a  mental bucket-list note: “Learn how to fart on command, to get whatever seat you want.”

And that’s my tale. Thanks for reading.  


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