Here’s Why You Should Never Wear Man Clogs to an Abortion I stand under the showerhead, letting the streams of water wet my hair and then trickle down my back. I look down at the shower floor. Evidently I stand in the same exact place during every shower because the shower floor has a film of soap scum - except for two footprint-shaped areas that are relatively clean. I say relatively because, I suppose, nothing in my bathroom can be considered truly clean. Even the anti-bacterial soap has things growing in it. I also say relatively because I’m rather fond of the word. It just rolls off the tongue. Relatively.
I really should clean my shower. I myself can stand the filth, but Laura’s a bit of a neat freak. She won’t even take a shower at my place without wearing flip-flops. I used to get really offended when Laura did that, but I’ve learned to accept it as one of Laura’s quirks - though I still find it bothersome when Laura wears the flip-flops to bed. It’s a real mood killer - though I’ve found that soap scum makes a pretty good lubricant if you’re too lazy to get out of bed during the middle of sex.
I’ve been in the shower for about twenty minutes now and the bathroom has filled with steam from the hot water. The steamy mist hovers around me like I’m in a dream sequence of a bad Off-Broadway play - though my shower is much better because most off-Broadway theaters don’t come with loufah soap. Except for some of those theaters in Greenwich Village. The theater gays sure do love their loufah.
I’m taking extra-long in the shower today. Normally I start my day by standing under the showerhead and reflecting on my day until a sense of calm overcomes me. It’s as if the water just washes all the anxieties from my body and rinses them down the drain. Given the state of my life right now, I’m surprised the drain hasn’t clogged yet. Hearing that Susan had an abortion and that Laura was planning on ending her pregnancy hit me hard. Laura is scheduled to have an abortion this afternoon and I told her I’d be there to support her. It’s more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. Not that I’ve spent a lot of time imagining the aborting of a child - that would be rather abnormal, unless of course you happened to be trapped on an airplane with young kids. Then I’m sure the thought of abortion must have crossed your mind at least a couple of times - especially if the in-flight movie was one of those live-action Disney film remakes starring Lindsay Lohan or Hillary Duff.
I don’t know if I’m strong enough to be present to watch the abortion of my child, but at the same time, I just picture Susan sitting in a clinic when she was eighteen, all alone and scared and needing someone to hold her when it was done. I don’t want Laura to be alone like that. The whole room is silent except for the gentle sound of the water coming from the showerhead. I wish there were more noise though. It’s always these moments of silence that make the buzzing in your head seem so much louder.
I reach for the soap and realize there’s only a tiny soap remnant left. Just this sad, dime-sized soap remnant. But, I’m entirely wet and don’t feel like going into the hallway closet for a new soap bar, so I make do. I pick up the soap remnant and there is a curly hair on it. I stare at it for a few moments, trying to figure out if it’s an underarm hair or a pubic hair. Thirty seconds pass by as I continue to stare at the soap. I suppose it really doesn’t matter what type of hair it is... I just hate not knowing stuff. I finally give up and pick the curly hair off the soap just in case it’s not my curly hair. My land lady, Mean Old Miss Bostwick, has a master key to the building and, quite frankly, some of the soap scum footprints have been looking rather wrinkled lately.
I rub the soap remnant on my body and within a second it disappears. I’m not certain whether the soap just dissolved or whether it’s clinging to some patch of body hair and I’ll have to walk around all day with a soap clump attached to my body. Thirty seconds pass by as I search for the soap remnant. Man, I hate not knowing stuff.
I pick up a bottle of shampoo. It’s this fancy, $35 per bottle shampoo that they use on horses to keep their manes extra shiny and strong. Personally, I was rather skeptical of using a shampoo with the slogan, “We’ll wash that neigh right out of your hair!”, but the big-breasted salon receptionist was flirting with me and before I knew it, I was heading home with a bottle of expensive horse shampoo. I like to think that the receptionist wasn’t taking advantage of my weakness as a male and that she truly believed in the product, but I’m rather dubious seeing that I went home from the salon with the horse shampoo and four bottles of hoof strengthener.
I flip the lid of the plastic bottle and pour some shampoo on my hands. It isn’t actually the horse shampoo though; I used that up within three days. At the time I was dating a girl who liked to grab my hair during sex and I thought it would strengthen my roots. She pulled really hard, alternating with both hands - like she was weeding a garden. She even wore gardening gloves during sex to improve her grip. And, she said, to avoid getting her hands all greasy - which I found rather offensive. But she was hot, so I overlooked it.
While I was dating her, I must have washed my hair three times a day. My hair did become stronger, but she broke up with me anyway because my hair became too shiny and it kept her awake at night. Well, that and she said my feet became abnormally hard. She tried to break up with me for three weeks, yelling and screaming at me that she hated me and didn’t want to see me anymore. But she was hot, so I overlooked it.
Inside the horse shampoo bottle is actually dandruff shampoo that I just poured into the more expensive bottle. I hate the idea of my dates knowing that I have a dandruff problem. Nothing is more embarrassing than taking a shower with a woman for the first time and having her break up with you for using Head and Shoulders for greasy hair shampoo. I had a girlfriend in college who broke up with me for that reason. Or maybe it was because I peed on her during shower sex without asking permission first. It was hard to tell with all her yelling.
I lather my whole body with the shampoo, figuring shampoo is kind of like soap. I get to my behind area and feel a little ball of something in my anus. It’s really clinging to my ass hairs and I know I’m going to have to reach up with my fingers to pry it loose. I really hope it’s just toilet paper and not a small wad of poo. My life is going bad enough without having to add morning poo touching to the list. I finally work the ball free and it’s in my fingers. I should just rinse it down the drain and not look, but it’s like a car accident. I can’t stop myself from taking a peek. I really hate not knowing stuff. Fortunately, it’s only a wad of toilet paper mixed with a couple of stray ass hairs that I had to sacrifice in order for the wad to become dislodged. I become slightly depressed as I notice that one of the ass hairs is gray. When did I start to become old? I hate getting old. Now I’m going to have to either start dying my ass hairs or limit rimming to women who are colorblind.
I finish my shower and pull the handle that causes the water stream to change from shower mode to tub mode. What a cool invention. It ranks right up there with the key pouch in men’s swimming trunks. Or those ear muffs that wrap around the back of your head so they don’t mess up your hair. I really like those.
I turn off the hot water and then the cold water. I’m not sure why I always do it in this order, but I do it every single time. I hope it’s not an early sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder. My uncle and grandfather suffer from the disorder. My family also suspects my cousin Arnold suffers from OCD, but he’s too lazy to get off the couch so we don’t get to see enough behavior to be entirely certain.
I open the shower door and reach for a towel. I dry my face, smelling the bleach I use to keep my towels extra white - which would be a good idea except I only have green towels. I use the towel to wipe the fogged mirror, but it re-fogs again quickly. I look at my reflection in the slightly fogged mirror, through little bits of towel lint that have clung to the mirror. I wish my reflection could speak back to me and offer some good advice to get me through the day. Or at least sing to me. I’d settle for that right now.
After drying myself off, I wrap the towel around my waist and cinch it with a clothespin since I’ve never mastered the art of tucking a towel in so that it doesn’t fall to my ankles after I take two steps. I wish they sold bath towels with velcro strips to help the towel stay up. Personally, I’d much rather walk around naked than wrapped in a towel, but I haven’t gotten around to putting up curtains in my bedroom yet. I took them down last Halloween when I went out as Carol Burnett doing her Gone With the Wind skit. I took second place in a costume contest that year, losing out to some sassy bitch in a Mama’s Family wig. In retrospect, I suppose I was a pretty sore loser. After the contest, me and the third place guy (who dressed up as Lyle Wagonner) tried to steal her trophy in the parking lot after the contest. Though it turns out the third place guy wasn’t dressed as Lyle Wagonner. He actually was Lyle Wagonner. Times were tough and he couldn’t afford a costume that year.
I just wanted to win so badly because I never had a good Halloween costume while growing up. As a kid, my mom just threw a white sheet over me and made me go out as a ghost every year. She didn’t even take time to cut eye holes into the sheet. I had to wander from house to house using only my echolocation skills. After five straight years with the same ghost costume I finally complained, so she sewed a tail to the white sheet and made me go out as a sperm. It was especially bad because my grandmother took me out trick or treating that year and went out dressed as an ovum. It was one of those years you actually want to go to the creepy neighbor guy’s house in hopes he poisoned the candy. The following year, I thought I would get out of having to wear the sperm costume because I broke my leg and had limited mobility to walk the neighborhood, but my mom wasn’t buying it. She strapped me into a wheelchair, threw the sperm costume on me and made me go door-to-door holding a sign reading “Daddy’s sperm.”
I enter my bedroom, repositioning the clothespin so the towel doesn’t fall. I don’t really care if my neighbors see me naked, but evidently they have issues with it. Last week they called the police. It wasn’t so much the walking around naked part that bothered them. I think it was when I started Riverdancing that they got all freaked out. People today just aren’t as receptive to a naked guy in clogs as they used to be - except on some of those variety shows on Telemundo.
I stand in a corner of the room that isn’t visible to the neighbors. I open the closet door and stare at my wardrobe. What does one wear to an abortion? They never give practical advice like that on those style makeover shows on TLC. They really need to expand the makeover candidates they have on those shows. How many times do they have to tell fat people they shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes? I continue staring at my wardrobe. I need to dress nice and respectable, but I don’t want to wear my really good clothes in case there are protesters outside the clinic throwing stuff. Protesters always seem intent on throwing the messiest foods possible. Personally I think they could throw cleaner foods - like Little Debbie Snacks - and still get their point across. Plus, if they kept the snacks in their wrappers, they could just pick them up at the end of the protest and re-use them the next time they get angry at people they’ve never met before.
I pull out black trousers and a black T-shirt, but then put them back. It just seems too somber for the occasion - especially since the black T-shirt is a souvenir I got at a Megadeath concert last July. The girl who loved to pull hair had really bad taste in music. But again she was hot, so I overlooked it. Though in my defense, I did show some self-respect my refusing to wear the Right Said Fred T-shirt she made me buy. I finally settle on a pair of wrinkle-free khaki dress pants. When I originally bought them, they were called wrinkle-free pants, but the last time I went to the department store to get another pair I noticed they were now called wrinkle-resistant pants because no matter how technologically advanced society becomes, men will always find a way to wear wrinkled clothes. I put on the pants and then have to decide on a shirt - Laura is going to a fancier abortion clinic that strictly enforces the No shoes, no shirt, no abortion rule. I look over a row of sweaters, skipping over the ones on wire hangars (it seems like a bad omen when going to an abortion) and finally settle on a navy blue sweater. I do a final look over in the mirror and I start to doubt my wardrobe decision. It seems too preppy for an abortion. I look too much like one of those Kennedy clan members who always seem to find themselves on trial for date raping someone. However, I decide not to change the outfit since I’m running late and I’m supposed to have lunch with Thelma before going to the clinic. I throw on a pair of man clogs (without socks of course) to add some pizzazz to the ensemble and clip-clop my way out the door.
I sit in Thelma’s office, waiting for our weekly lunch. The events of the past cabin weekend were too much for me and I’m anxious to talk to her, but Thelma’s weekly group therapy session with the psychics is running late yet again. I hate that the psychics always have the slot right before our weekly lunch; they always run late. I suppose I should cut them some slack this week since Thelma warned me beforehand that this might be a particularly tough session. One of the regular psychics who worked at the Atlantic City Boardwalk went out for a swim and drowned. Evidently she wasn’t very clair-buoyant.
At least Thelma has finally installed a television in the waiting room. Luckily I have control of the remote control since I’m the only person in the waiting room. Well, the secretary is there, but I don’t think she should count as an actual person. People who get paid to be in a room shouldn’t have remote control rights. The same goes for people with really fat fingers - it takes them way too long to change channels and they always make mistakes. Plus, for some reason, they always seem to want to watch shows on the Animal Planet network. Especially those shows where pets rescue their owners. My dog Re-Run was featured on that program over fourteen times - though I later found out my dog suffers from Muchausen By Proxy syndrome and was poisoning me to get some attention. I actually figured it out by the eighth time Re-run sneaked poison in my food, but I let him continue. It was less time-consuming than having to play fetch with him.
I flip through the channels, but there’s nothing good on afternoon television. It’s the usual mix of news, infomercials, soap operas, and even worse, infomercials hosted by soap opera stars. I don’t understand why they would hire a soap star to host an infomercial. These actors don’t even do a good job pretending they enjoy sex with an attractive co-star. How on earth are they supposed to pretend to be excited about a hair care product that allows white people to style their hair in corn rows?
I finally settle on the local news on channel six. They bill themselves as the happy news station. They still report on murders, armed robberies and war casualties, but they do it with a smile so it doesn’t seem quite as bad. Plus they have a wacky weatherman. I just love wacky weathermen. There’s something I find comforting about forcing a grown man to stand in the middle of a hurricane in a goofy yellow rain hat. Especially when his hat blows off unexpectedly and you see that split second of indecision when the weatherman isn’t sure if he should make a quick grab for the hat or continue reporting on the storm.
I turn up the volume as the newswoman, Jennifer Jennings, speaks into the camera - though her words lose a little dignity seeing that she’s a white newswoman wearing corn rows. I just hate when newscasters try to be trendy. Her 50-ish partner, Lionel Lewellyn, takes off his Kangol hat as he introduces himself, revealing that he too is sadly wearing corn rows - though he’s balding so he has more of a corn row comb-over.
Jennifer Jennings tries to speak in a somber voice, yet still smile, and says, “ A large fire has engulfed a plastics factory downtown, spewing toxic fumes into the air for blocks. There is grave concern about the safety of seven people still trapped in the factory.”
Lionel then chimes in trying to put a happy spin on it, “That’s good news, Jennifer. Early reports suggested there were twelve people still trapped in the building.”
“ No, that is still correct, Lionel. But there is only grave concern about seven of them. Evidently the other five people were quite unpopular with their co-workers.”
The news item hits me hard. I wonder which group I would be in if I were in a fire. Would I be in the group of co-workers that people would miss if they died in a fire? Or in the group that was unpopular? One of these days I’ll have to get a real job and find out. It disturbs me to think I might be so hated that people might take joy in the fact that I perished in a plastics factory accident. It disturbs me almost as much as the idea that people might think I would actually step foot inside a plastics factory. If I had a dime for everyone who disliked me, I’d have at least 92¢. I suspect that I would not be sorely missed if I perished in a fire - at least judging from the number of people currently awaiting trial for trying to set me on fire. There are currently eight of them, including my dog, Rerun. Curse that Munchausen by Proxy syndrome! If he wanted attention, why couldn’t he just hump my leg like the other dogs in the neighborhood?
Maybe I should do something different with my life. Everything I’ve touched in my life has gone badly, so maybe I should take all my natural impulses and do the exact opposite. Declare today the day of the anti-me. Though a part of me is not sure the anti-me thing will work. I’ve tried being nice in the past, but ironically, the nicer I try to be, the worse I make the lives of everyone around me. Despite this, I decide to give the anti-me thing a try anyway. The new me is going to be optimistic. The new me is going to be giving and kind and joyous. It has to work. The new me is going to make people happy. Make people laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine - at least that’s what my insurance company said to justify not springing for my antibiotics last summer. Yes. Today will be the day of the anti-me.
Finally the door to Thelma’s office opens and the psychics walk out, single file. They look very sad. Well, as sad as people in colorful bandanas can look. Normally, I would just let them walk by me, but today, in the spirit of the anti-me, I get up and give the first psychic a hug. Though confused for a few seconds, she finally relaxes and starts to cry.
“ Thank you,” she says quietly as she walks away.
Wow. This anti-me thing is actually working. I’ve actually made another human being feel better. And I didn’t have to sleep with an ugly person to do it. I go down the line of psychics, giving them a hug one-by-one and offering condolences. Except for psychic #7 who once tried to steal my wallet in the elevator. I still don’t trust him. There’s a thin line between the anti-me and the anti-rational. I also skip psychic #12 who is still mad at me because I slept with her last year and didn’t call her afterwards even though I said I would. I figured it would be OK because I thought she’d see it coming.
Thelma and I wait five minutes after the psychics leave before heading to lunch so we don’t have to share an elevator with them. It seems like at least one of the psychics die each year in a rare and horrific accident so we keep our distance just in case the Grim Reaper has myopia and accidentally mistakes us for a psychic. I mean, you never see the Grim reaper wearing eye glasses even though he must be getting up in years. That’s why you always see the Grim Reaper walking - his kids probably took his car keys away so he wouldn’t drive anymore.
Thelma and I take the elevator down to the street level and since I’m running late, we decide to eat at the fast food restaurant on the corner. I speak into a clown’s mouth and order a Super-Mega burger combo. I think they got my order right, but it’s hard to understand the words coming from the clown’s mouth. He has braces and speaks with an accent.
The worker hands us our food on a tray that has obviously just been wiped down. The tray isn’t dry yet and the wash water is seeping through the thin sheet of paper lining the tray. It’s a good thing I didn’t bring my crayons with me today otherwise I would be awfully upset that the water has ruined the coloring book portion of the liner. I’m just determined to get my picture up on the restaurant’s Wall of Drawing Excellence. They’ve turned me down eight times already. I keep getting beat out by a four-year old named Jenna. I think it must be fixed; she totally doesn’t deserve to be up there. I don’t care if you have cerebral palsy. If you’re going to make it onto the Wall of Drawing Excellence, you should at least be able to stay in the lines. And not paint all your suns green. That makes no sense at all.
I unwrap my Super-Mega burger with cheese. They charge an extra twenty cents if you want cheese, which I think is totally inappropriate. If you’re going to call something a Super-Mega burger, the cheese should be included. Otherwise, it’s just a regular burger. I would complain, but this particular restaurant has a button on the cash register that the worker can press to tell the people in the back to spit in your food. The button is labeled as “special sauce”, but I saw an expose on 60 Minutes which revealed what it really meant. It’s one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen on 60 Minutes, other than those Andy Rooney segments that leave you wondering how it’s humanly possible that he hasn’t died yet. As I unwrap the burger, I notice that the wrapper is made of recyclable paper. I wish they wouldn’t do that. I’m generally in favor of recycling, but I don’t necessarily want my food wrapped up in another human being’s trash.
“ So, have you and Abu broached the bad sex thing yet?” I ask Thelma as I take a bite from my Super-Mega burger.
“ I’ve tried, but when we’re in bed, he can’t even look me in the eye,” says Thelma, between bites of her Super-Mega salad. “ So he looks down before realizing that’s where my pussy is, so he can’t look there either. Then his eyes try to move up and he sees my breasts and that makes him even more self-conscious. I’m running out of body parts that Abu can look at without prematurely ejaculating.”
“ Well, you only have yourself to blame for that,” I say. “I told you not to get those vagina tattoos all over your back. One I can maybe understand. But seventeen?”
“ Give me a break. It was in my heavy alcoholic days and I had just gone to see The Vagina Monologues and the alcohol convinced me it would be empowering.”
“ I guess I can see your point,” I say. “ The same thing happened to my Uncle Louie after he went to see Vagina Monologues. He got fourteen vaginas tattooed all over his torso - which especially hampered his sex life seeing that he’s gay.”
“ I keep debating whether I want to have that laser surgery to have the tattoos removed. I don’t really like the tattoos, but at the same time, they’re a good reminder not to let myself slip back into using alcohol again.”
“ Do they even make lasers that strong? You have seventeen tatoos. I think you might need one of those Austin Powers-sized lasers that Dr. Evil tried to destroy the world with.”
“ But it’s not just the tattoos that are responsible for our bad sex. Abu is so self-conscious about his body. He flinches when I touch his body. I’m usually good about making a guy feel comfortable in bed. When I was dating that sixty year old guy, he was self-conscious at first, but when he eventually relaxed, he was incredible. Sex with him lasted for over three hours.”
“What? Five minutes for the actual sex and three hours to shower to try to wash the old man smell off you? But I can see what you mean about Abu. He’s so self-conscious about his weight. Abu’s too hard on himself. He’s already lost 400 pounds, but people are still so cruel. They make such mean comments on the street. Abu pretends not to notice, but I can tell he hears them. He gets all quiet. I wish there were a better term than the word fat. Instead of calling someone fat, maybe we could just use the term ubiquitous. It might not be any more sensitive a term, but I figure a good percentage of the American population doesn’t know what the word ubiquitous means, so we’re cutting down on hurt feelings right there.”
“ I don’t know how to make it better for him,” says Thelma.
“ Are you falling in love with him?” I ask.
“ I think so,” says Thelma. “ Before I met Abu, my life was in such a rut. The only difference between yesterday, today and tomorrow was the verb tense I needed to use. But I look forward to things now. I’m happy when I’m around him.”
“ That’s great, Thelma.”
“ No, it’s horrible. I’ve never been very good at being happy.”
And I don’t try to correct Thelma or tell her how bad that sounds because I know what she means. Thelma and I understand each other in the way that only two fucked-up, self-destructive people can truly understand each other.
“ I think I’m good at being happy,” I say. “ It’s more that the rest of the world doesn’t seem all the comfortable with the idea of me being happy. Anytime things seem to be looking up for me, gravity kicks in, causing everything to crash down on my head. At the cabin, you heard my argument with Laura, didn’t you?”
“ I think everyone in a three-mile radius heard your argument with Laura.”
“ It was that awkward for everyone, huh?” I ask
“ Do you have any doubt that it was?” replies Thelma.
“ A little. I’m usually quite adept at detecting socially awkward situations - except for the ones that I’m directly responsible for.”
“ It was one of the most awkward situations I’ve ever encountered. And that’s saying a lot seeing that I hold a weekly group therapy session for adults who like to wear soiled diapers for fun. Even the bears outside the cabin were cringing because it was so socially awkward. And it takes an awful lot to make a bear feel socially awkward; you see how little food incentive it takes to get a bear to wear a birthday hat and ride a unicycle at the circus. Even my cousin Ralphie wouldn’t do that - and he has Prader’s-Willi syndrome. Have you talked to Laura about it since the cabin?”
“ Yeah. She’s decided not to have the child. The appointment is this afternoon.”
“ Aren’t you going to be there with her?”
“ Yeah. I don’t want her to be alone.”
“ What are you doing at lunch with me? You should be with Laura now.”
“ I offered to spend the day with her, but she wanted to be alone this morning. She said I could join her this afternoon if I wanted to. I said I’d be there, but this whole process has been hard for me. I don’t really feel a part of the decision. She decided to have the abortion without my input. She wants to be alone this morning without my presence. And when we talked about me being with her at the clinic, she said I could come if I wanted to. She was just so ambivalent. I feel more like a bystander than someone who this is actually happening to. Laura’s drifting away and it feels like there’s nothing I can do to pull her back in.”
“ Just be there for her.”
“ Is that going to be enough?”
“ Truthfully I don’t know, but not being there is much, much worse.”
“ I know. After my argument with Laura, Susan came out to talk to me. The night before she left for college we were careless and she became pregnant. She decided not to have the baby, but never told me. The image of Susan alone and scared and wanting me there with her - I don’t want Laura to go through that. I don’t want that image going through Laura’s mind every time she sees me. I just don’t know if I can do it though. I’ve never been the strong one.”
And Thelma doesn’t try to correct me or tell me how bad that sounds because Thelma and I understand each other in the way that only two fucked-up, self-destructive people can truly understand each other.
After lunch, Thelma and I stand outside the restaurant and give each other a hug good-bye. She turns left towards her office and I ironically turn right to go to the abortion clinic. As I walk along the street, a mailman passes by me who must be at least 200 pounds overweight. How on earth does a mailman become fat? Mailmen walk 8 hours a day with a heavy bag of mail-order catalogs. How much food does one need to eat to overcome 8 hours of exercise a day? Abu’s a good four hundred pounds overweight, but he sits in a cab all day so at least that’s not as surprising - though he also for some reason carries around a bag of catalogs all day. Abu just loves Ikea.
I continue to walk down the street finally stopping at the bus stop to wait for the bus to take me to the abortion clinic. Judging from the motley assortment of people assembled at this particular stop, I suspect this might be an express bus to the abortion clinic. There’s the pregnant lady wearing a too-tight T-shirt that couldn’t have possibly fit her even before she became pregnant. The shirt has the words Baby Factory! written across the bosom area. She’s chain-smoking and drinking a bottle of beer that is not very well concealed in a brown paper bag - especially considering that the bag has the logo of a liquor store on it. She seems like one of those people for whom giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome might actually raise the family IQ average.
There’s also the really unattractive couple making out non-stop. The girl is sitting on her boyfriend’s lap and they are doing some heavy tongue kissing. It’s hard to tell where one tongue ends and the second tongue begins. The girl is wearing tight cut-off Daisy Duke style jean shorts and her ass cheeks are spilling out of the shorts as if they were gasping for air. Her overly hairy boyfriend is also sadly wearing a similar pair of Daisy Dukes. As a fashion note, if you can see ass hairs sticking out of the bottom of a pair of shorts, your shorts need to be longer. They just do. I learned that lesson during the summers my family spent at the shore with my Uncle Louie. It was rather gross seeing his ass hairs creep out of his Speedos and run down his leg like ivy gone amok. Though in all fairness, Uncle Louie also had the ass hair problem when he wore long pants too. I’m not trying to pass judgement on the overly furry, but at the very least they can put those ass hairs in corn rows or something else that’s more pleasant to look at. It can be done. I saw Venus and Serena Williams do it at Wimbledon one year.
There’s also a really hot, attractive couple making out that everyone wants to watch - except that the couple is 14 years old and everyone feels too creepy to be caught looking at them. Except of course for the one really ugly guy in the trench coat who looks like he would have to slip himself a Roofie just to masturbate without gagging.
There is also a lady sitting by herself. She seems really lonely - the type of lady who, when something good happens to her, the first person she tells is her cat. And the cat gets bored halfway through her talk and just walks away. I should talk to her. The old me would just mind my own business and simply pass judgment. The new anti-me should talk to her and befriend her. Don’t get me wrong... I’m still going to pass judgment. I can’t stop being me cold turkey. It might make my brain hurt too much - like the worst ice cream headache ever.
I make eye contact with the lonely lady and she smiles at me - though I wonder if someone can officially smile if they only have one tooth. I’ll have to look that up when I get home. The uni-tooth lady has an oddly round, Charlie Brown-shaped face and evidently got in a fight with a fake tan machine and lost because her skin is more orange than tan. She looks more like a Jack-o-lantern than a person. I suppose though I shouldn’t criticize too much. I’ve found that if you find yourself in a situation where you think that everyone but you is abnormal, chances are you’re not too far from them on the evolutionary food chain. I say hi to the uni-tooth lady and start to ask how she’s doing, but she gets bored before I can finish the word and walks away. In essence, she’s given me the lonely lady cat treatment.
I try to save face and pretend I wasn’t dissed by the lonely cat lady by getting up off the bench to look down the street to see if the bus is coming. I don’t really know why though because there’s not a whole lot of prep work one needs to do to enter a bus that would require advance notice of its arrival. Basically you just have to take out the fare card from your wallet (without letting anyone see how much money is actually in said wallet) and then you just say a quick prayer that someone crazy won’t sit next to you. Though you have to make it a silent prayer. If you say the prayer out loud, the three crazy people in ear shot who think they’re God start arguing about who you were actually praying to. Then you have to choose between them and it’s just awkward. If they force me to make a decision about who is God, I usually choose the one that smells the least because I think if God were one of us, he would have access to deodorant.
I notice the bus at the stop ahead. It is taking awhile because the bus driver has to get out and help a bicyclist attach his bike to the bike rack on the front of the bus. Personally I think having a bike would de-necessitate the need to take a bus, but maybe that’s just me. I think the bus should be reserved for lazy people like me who don’t want to expend too much of their own energy to navigate their way through the world.
As I wait for the bus, I decide to take the anti-me thing whole-heartedly. Usually I’m too lazy to walk 20 blocks and take a bus or a cab to my destination. Today, I change my mind and decide to walk. I walk down the street as the sun beats down from the sky. It feels like I’m in a music video for that Walking on Sunshine song by Katrina and the Waves - except that I’m going to an abortion which dampens the walking on sunshine-y thing a bit. I start to sweat which causes some hair gel to trickle onto my forehead. I walk past a metal sidewalk grate, side-stepping it because I’ve always had a phobia that the sidewalk grate would give in and send me crashing into the hole. But since today is the day of the anti-me, I decide to get over my phobia once and for all. I start stepping on every metal grate I come into contact with. Grate after grate, nothing happens. A swell of confidence fills my body as the anti-me principle seems to be working. It feels liberating to finally overcome my fears, though all the homeless people sleeping on the grates that I’ve accidentally stepped on don’t seem to be sharing in my enthusiasm. I try to explain the whole anti-me thing to them during my apologies, but they don’t seem to be embracing the concept of the anti-me as much as I would like.
A group of them start chasing me down the street. I continue running ahead, but sense by the growing cacophony of loose change in plastic cups that they are gaining on me. From the speed at which they are chasing me, I’ve evidently replaced hunger as their number one nemesis. I try to give them the slip, but they seem to be a highly organized group of homeless people. They’re even using GPS and walkie talkies and shit to track me down. When did homeless people become unionized? In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I personally think not sleeping in one’s own urine should come above mobilizing for revenge, but maybe that’s just me.
I run as fast as I can, but it’s hard to out run people with shopping carts and they are gaining ground. Plus my man clogs are severely impeding my fifty yard dash times. As I look back to see how much distance I have between me and the homeless people, the heel of my man clogs catch on a sidewalk crack and I trip and fall face first onto one of the metal grates. I hear a slight creak and to my horror it starts to cave in and I plummet into the hole. My falling seems to be going in slow motion, as if I were in the middle of a Baywatch beach-running scene. Arms flailing wildly with hordes of people anxiously watching to see if my man boobs are going to fall out of my shirt. I finally land with a hard, bone-crunching thud. Luckily it’s not my own bones though... I was fortunate enough to land on the homeless person who was sleeping on the grate when it collapsed. Now, I’m not advocating that one should fall on homeless people as a hobby, but if one is going to fall onto another human being, I highly recommend falling onto someone wearing ten heavy winter jackets. It really cushions the fall. I suppose you could also choose to fall on the morbidly obese, but they might be carrying eating utensils which could puncture you in a fall. So, stick with the homeless just in case.
I roll off the homeless person and onto the ground. As I lay in the filth in the hole, I almost immediately start to develop a rash. I’m not sure if it is due to the raw sewage in the hole or the fact that my skin accidentally came into contact with an old copy of Us Weekly magazine. I can’t believe this is happening to me. I’m supposed to be at Laura’s abortion in 30 minutes and I’ve fallen into a hole in the ground. It’s so Baby Jessica - who I also believe was late for an abortion when she fell into the well. Though I think my predicament is worse than Baby Jessica’s because I’m assuming she didn’t have homeless people pelting her with trash.
The homeless people peer down at me in that smug, homeless kind of way. A couple of them have made makeshift signs reading WILL HELP YOU OUT OF HOLE FOR FOOD. But they don’t mean it. Every time I reach up to grasp their outstretched hands, they yank their hands away at the last second like Lucy snatching the football away from Charlie Brown and I tumble back into the hole. People are so unforgiving when you accidentally step on their faces with man clogs twelve times. They help the homeless person out of the hole, but refuse to lend me a hand. They just stand there, mocking me.
The head homeless person (at least I assume he’s the head homeless person... he has the shopping cart with the most stuff)leads them all in a chant. “ Two, four, six, eight! Whose sorry ass is stuck in a sewage grate!”
The chant brings back horrible memories for me since it’s the same exact chant our school cheerleaders used whenever we played teams from really poor school districts. I tried to get the cheerleaders to stop that particular chant because competing on the Math-olympics team put me at enough risk of getting beat up without the cheerleaders putting fuel on the fire.
Eventually the homeless people get bored and leave. Evidently there’s only so much one can watch a person sitting in a hole doing nothing before the masses get bored. Though I suspect I have a higher Neilsen rating than most of the shows on the CW network.
I look up out of the hole and thankfully a street department employee is looking down at me. The sunlight is glaring and all I can see is a mass of flannel, beer belly, an orange safety vest and about three days worth facial stubble. Someone should tell the lady that it’s not the sexiest of looks for a woman, but since I need her to help me out of the hole, that person is certainly not going to be me.
“ Hey,” she says. “ You’re not supposed to be down there.”
“ Oh, really?” I say sarcastically. “ You mean this isn’t the Four Season’s?”
I suspect using sarcasm isn’t the best idea when you want to convince someone to help you out of a sewage-infested hole. I learned that from watching an episode of Oprah. I think it was one of her book club episodes. So I try to take the anti-me approach and use unyielding kindness to help me out of my predicament.
“ Do you have a ladder or something to help me out of the hole, ma’am?” I ask politely.
“ My crew does have a ladder, but we’re not authorized for using our equipment for rescue purposes. Union rules.”
“ Oh come on. I’m trapped in a hole. I think they would look the other way if you helped me out.”
“ I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules. The union only authorizes me to break the rules when it benefits me or my family or when it gives us a chance to stick it to the man.”
“ I understand ma’am. But could you do me a favor and call the department that is responsible for getting people out of sewage grates?”
“ Well, I could. But I’m not going to. You don’t remember me, do you? Does the name Myrtle McBride ring a bell.”
Uh-oh. Myrtle McBride - the angry lesbian mathlete. I was wondering why her orange safety vest had a pocket protector on it. Her powers of math were actually quite astounding. She was like a mythological creature: half-nerd/half-abacus. Unfortunately this made Myrtle a prime target for our cheerleaders.
Myrtle says, “ You remember that chant your cheerleaders used to shout at me during every match? Myrtle, Myrtle. Good at math. But girl, take some time and shave that moustache. It was cruel, uncalled for, and quite frankly, it didn’t even rhyme very well. It’s because of them that my life was ruined. I became so self-conscious that I couldn’t concentrate on math anymore. I lost my captainship of the team and was demoted to square roots specialist. My team tried to make me feel like it was an honor, but I knew it was just a pity position. I got depressed, my grades went down and colleges rescinded their scholarship offers. And you know the only thing that pulled me out of my depression?”
“ Gilette coming out with that disposable razor with five blades?”
“ Just so we’re clear... you are aware that your actions aren’t helping you right now? You’re trapped in a sewage grate, so unless you’re able to weave a ladder out of sass, I would start being a whole lot nicer to me. The thing that pulled me out of my depression was the idea that some day I might be able to seek revenge on my tormenters. When I saw you running down the street, I knew it was my time. You think those screws on the sewage grate were loose by sheer coincidence? That was me. Myrtle McBride. And I was motivated. I had to outrun you to get at least a block ahead to have time to loosen the screws. Thank goodness you were wearing those man-clogs which slowed you down a bit. And wearing man clogs without socks? How did you not turn out to be gay? And it wasn’t easy loosening the screws. You know how hard it is to roll over a sleeping homeless person who is blocking access to the screws. But it was worth it. Man was it worth it.”
“ But you can’t blame me for high school. That was the cheerleaders. I was a nerd - just like you.”
“ You were dating the head cheerleader at the time, weren’t you? You’re the reason they were there. What other school’s cheerleaders went to math competitions?”
“ Well, yes, I was dating the head cheerleader. But I still wasn’t the one to say all those mean things.”
“ Don’t give me that. I know that you helped them with some of their cheers. Like Myrtle, Myrtle. Teeth unaligned. Her date for the prom was her cosine. Are you telling me that a group whose collective IQ didn’t even make them eligible for community college knew what the term cosine meant?”
“ Ok. Fine. That one was from me. But I just wanted to win so badly.”
“ And what about: Myrtle Myrtle. Look at her thigh. Someone’s been eating too much apple pi. And when, instead of forming a human pyramid, they assembled themselves into a mathematical pi symbol - are you telling me that was all their idea?”
“ OK. So maybe that was me too.”
“ Is there any cruelty inflicted by your school’s team that didn’t come directly from you?”
“ Well, the venereal disease that afflicted half your team and kept your team out of the regional championships that one year wasn’t due to me. In fact, I was the person who wrote the anonymous note warning your team not to sleep with Jimmy Orbacher during math camp.”
“ But the note was in cryptogram form and we didn’t solve it until it was too late.”
“ I thought you all would think it was more fun to have a challenge. Besides, don’t blame me because your team was slutty enough to all sleep with the same guy.”
“ Don’t blame my team! It was math camp. Guys not wearing thick prescription glasses were at a premium. And you shouldn’t even begin calling my team slutty. That cheerleader you were dating slept with practically every jock in the extended school district. Her idea of joining the fight against global warming was trying not to fart so much after anal sex. But, you know, I could forgive you for all the mean things over the years if even once it crossed your mind to apologize for all the cruelty. Does a guy like you even know what the word apologize means?”
“ Of course I do. I believe that’s what other people do when they’re wrong.”
“ You know what,” says Myrtle. “ I’m going to go ahead and call someone to get you out of the hole. I thought this whole revenge thing was going to make me feel better, but I now realize that it’s just a waste of my time. People like you are never going to understand how much their actions hurt other people. If I thought leaving you in this hole would make you a better person, I would leave you there much longer. But let’s face it, you’re the same person you’ve always been. The same person you’ll always be. It’ll take them about a half hour for the crew to get here.”
And with that, Myrtle walks away. I want to say I’m sorry, but the words don’t come out of my mouth. I think it was Confucious who first said that sorry seems to be the hardest word to say. Though I suspect that was partially because he was Chinese and had difficulty pronouncing words containing the letter “r”.
As I sit alone in the hole, I dig through my pockets and find my cell phone. I desperately try to reach Laura, but she has her cell phone turned off. Evidently, leaving your cell phone on during an abortion is considered rude. Especially if Baby Got Back is your primary ring tone. I want to call the abortion clinic so they can relay a message to Laura, but don’t have the number on me. I look up and notice a new crowd of people are staring down at me, including a cameraman from the Channel Six Happy News team. I can’t believe they are putting my falling into a hole onto the local news. I just know this is going to be an embarrassing story. Almost as bad as the time they kept re-running the clip from the time I was on Hollywood Squares promoting my book and starting crying because Alf wouldn’t stop making fun of me. And to make it worse, evidently my story isn’t important enough to merit sending a real newsperson. They sent the wacky weatherman instead. It’s just my luck to fall into a hole on a day when there weren’t enough elderly people who turned 100 to keep the weatherman busy. And it’s a nice day out so he isn’t even wearing his goofy yellow rain hat to cheer me up.
The presence of the news crew does cause people to finally offer to help me so they too can appear on the local news. One man gets on his knees and starts speaking in a loud, deliberate voice to me, as if my falling into a hole is inexplicably linked to my being able to comprehend the English language.
“ Is... there... anything... I... can... do... to... help... you?” he shouts while smiling directly into the camera.
“ Can you get me the number of the 22nd St. Medical Center?” I ask.
“ Why do you want to go there?” the man says in a voice that sounds less friendly than before.
“ I just need to relay a message,” I say.
“ I can’t give you the number. That’s the clinic where they do abortions. I’m on my way to a protest there.”
“ Can you at least help me out of the hole?” I ask.
“ That depends on why you need to contact the clinic,” he replies.
“ Get out of his way... I’ll help him,” shouts a strident woman.
She’s wearing a My body... My choice! T-shirt. Oh no. This can’t be good. I just want to go to an abortion. Not referee a Rumble in the Jungle between Roe versus Wade. I so do not want to get ready to rumble. I’m in a hole surrounded by the angry pro-lifer, the yelling pro-choice person, Myrtle McBride who has returned and is thoroughly enjoying my predicament, the homeless people who have also just returned and a weatherman who has had it out for me ever since he caught me on camera last year stealing one of his yellow rain hats that blew away in a rainstorm. Every direction I turn, I’m in close proximity with someone who absolutely despises me. I wonder if this is how Israel feels.
I open my cell phone and call Mark. I finally get a hold of Mark, but it’s hard to hear. The pro-life and pro-choice people are screaming loudly at each other in a way that doesn’t allow either to be understood. Evidently, they are not used to communicating with other human beings without the aid of large, offensive placards. I hate all this yelling and screaming. I don’t deal with it very well. I went through a military boot camp while doing research for my novel. I only lasted a half a day because the drill instructors were just too mean and vulgar. If I didn’t drop and give him fifty push-ups, one instructor screamed that he was going to shove his penis in my eye socket and fuck it until it oozed (until the eye socket oozed... not the penis... he wasn’t that vulgar). I don’t think the whole fucking my eye socket thing would have been much to my liking. I can’t even wear contact lenses without suffering major eye irritation. All the yelling and screaming is so different from how my family deals with stress. We just keep things bottled up inside until it eats away at our very being and leaves us an empty shell of a human being. Our method is just as maladaptive as yelling, but at least it doesn’t disturb the neighbors as much. I shout into the phone hoping Mark will hear me.
“ Mark, I need you to call the clinic and have them tell Laura that I’m trapped in a sewage grate surrounded by homeless people, an angry lesbian mathlete, a pro-lifer, a pro-choice activist and a wacky weatherman.”
As I wait for confirmation, I hear Susan say to Mark, “ Is that Christian? Where is he? Laura’s appointment was supposed to start five minutes ago.”
“ I’m not exactly sure,” I hear Mark say. “ He’s either trapped in a sewage grate or trapped inside the worst knock-knock joke ever.”
Before I can get a response, the phone is knocked out of my hands. The pro-life guy is yelling at me to repent my sins or I’ll never get to heaven. I think I can handle hell. I know it’s like 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit down there, but I’m sure it’s a dry heat. Personally, I gave up on the idea of heaven quite awhile ago. Heaven’s just not really my scene. I don’t like overly religious people now, let alone the idea of spending all of eternity with them. I always felt religious people were too judgmental. My church pastor would always disagree with me when I said that, but I think he had a pretty weak argument seeing that the day when you enter heaven is called Judgement Day. I don’t like to criticize the actions of others. I like to mock and ridicule others for sure, but I draw the line at telling others how to live their lives. I personally believe in the motto Live and Let Live. Unless of course you own a large estate in which the authorities will never find the dead bodies. Then it just depends on the person.
After a half-hour and a bunch of pepper spray courtesy of the police department, the crowd dissipates and a city crew is able to finally get me out of the hole. I look my watch. I wonder if I still have time to make it to the clinic before Laura leaves. I guess I never stopped to think how long an abortion actually takes. I sprint the remaining twenty blocks to the clinic (well, I sprint the first five and then have to speed walk the remaining fifteen blocks... you try sprinting in man clogs... it’s killer on the calves) and arrive at the clinic. I’m out of breath, but I’m finally there. I put my hand on the doorknob of the clinic, but I can’t bring myself to turn the knob. I want to be strong for Laura and be there for Laura, but I just can’t bring myself to go in. I’m losing my child and I’m just not ready to face that. I need the anti-me to kick in and force me to enter, but it doesn’t kick in. That’s the problem with the anti-me idea. No matter how much you try to fight it, you’ll eventually revert back to your true self. And so I just turn around and walk away, knowing it’s the worst thing I could do.