Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Bank Job



Relationships are complicated things; they can either evolve and grow over time or they can fall apart in an instant. People can see things differently, change direction, or want something different from what is currently on offer. Unlike a contractual obligation, a relationship can be ended by either party at any time. One moment, everything seems to be chugging along just fine and it’s pure bliss, but the next thing you know, you’ve been kicked to the curb and you’re out on your ass. Welcome to apartment hunting, homeless-style. In this game, you try to win by tracking down the best appliance boxes to live in and remember, location, location, location. Location is everything.  Steam grates and fast food restaurants with an accessible dumpster are prime pieces of real estate in the homeless community, as well as an indicator of social status. Still, it’s a cold, cruel world out there and in the long run, it’s probably best to keep that miserable fucking bitch or bastard happy. I say that because having shit like electricity, running water, food, toilet paper, pornography and all of that other civilized crap are good things. At the very least, it sure as shit beats waking up covered in cat piss and pigeon shit, wondering where your next hit of Robitussin is going to come from.

As an aside, Walgreen’s is open twenty-four hours a day. Aisle 5.

Yeah, breakups are hard. Breakups are brutal, soul-killing and savage; a betrayal, a dagger through the heart. And while there’s no such thing as a good breakup, a truly bad breakup is devastating, leaving you adrift, lost and alone.

My bank broke up with me today.

That bitch.

I’ve been crying for hours, binge watching movies about bank robberies and eating Ben & Jerry’s. I even went through an entire box of tissues watching one movie. That one wasn’t about robbing banks.

Not really, but I was pretty pissed off. I’m not pissed off anymore, though. Nope, now I’m just humiliated.

It all started with a letter and it wasn’t the letter ‘P’ from Sesame Street.

I couldn’t believe the words as I read them, my bank was breaking up with me. I was stunned and heartbroken as I read the impersonal words contained on that single page of fine, vellum paper. No explanation, just a cold and brief note in the mail, informing me that the bank was closing my accounts and terminating our relationship. I couldn’t understand the reasoning behind their decision, I’d been a good customer, I’d never had an overdraft or bounced a check. Hell, I don’t even own a check, I do all of my banking online. I’d even been faithful, sort of. I had been seeing another bank. I had accounts elsewhere, but my bank already knew all about that. I thought we had an open relationship. As far as I knew, I had never done anything to incur their wrath. Could this be as simple as jealousy? A bad case of asset envy, perhaps?

Still, the questions nagged at me. Why? What the hell had I done? Deep down, I didn’t really give a shit about what I may or may not have done. I do all kinds of fucked up shit, so one more accusation of fuckery doesn’t really surprise me. Honestly, all I really cared about was my money. And that begs the question, what about my fucking money?

The letter from the bank informed me that Chase was closing my accounts because continuing their relationship with me created a possible reputational risk for them. In other words, Chase was politely saying the equivalent of, “It’s not us, it’s you,” and “We need some space.” I must admit that the form letter went to great lengths to show empathy for me, further informing me that Chase knew that this was not a decision that they made lightly and that the account closures might cause difficulties for me.

Difficulties. Yeah, no shit. Fuckers.

Chase also wanted to let me know how magnanimous they were and that they were willing to help me through this difficult time.

It would “help” me, if I would destroy the debit and credit cards for all of my accounts.
Any checks that were written on the account would be returned as unpaid, because the account was closed.
Direct deposits and recurring payments would be rejected.

Hey Fuckers, what about my money?

Oh, there it was, hidden in the middle of the fucking Dear John letter.

Funds may not be withdrawn from this account at this time.

Fuck me.

You dirty cocksuckers…

So, when do I get my fucking money?

After those motherfuckers verified all deposits and payments, I’d get a check in the mail for any remaining funds and that it would be ten days, before I’d get my coin, which is no problem, of course, because I’m independently wealthy and live a life of such fucking leisure that I was absolutely certain that the $4.37 that I had in my change jar would carry me through the next week. Oh, and sorry kitty, but that can of Fancy Feast belongs to me now, so back off, bitch.


Chase also let me know that they valued me as a customer and I’ll tell you, nothing could make me feel more like a valued customer than that letter did. Truly, it filled my heart with sunshine, happiness and joy. Assholes.

Once again, Chase informed me that they were reaching out to let me know that they were there to help in this difficult time and that if I needed to talk, if I had any questions or concerns, I should give them a call and we could hug it out.

Maybe sit in a big circle, holding hands and singing fucking “Kumbaya”.

Yeah, fuck that.

I had lots of fucking questions and concerns and I was just about to call those motherfuckers when I noticed a sentence that I hadn’t read, buried near the bottom of the letter. The sentence read, “If you are calling from outside of the U.S., please call us collect.”

You’ll never guess what I did.

I walked right out to the car and I drove off, in search of a pay phone. I didn’t have to search very long, as I came across one almost immediately, at a 7-11 that’s just a few blocks from my house. You bet your ass I called them collect.

Fuck that, let those bitches pay for my call. They were going to pay alright.

But pay they didn’t. Those motherfuckers didn’t accept the charges for the call. Wtf? Lying fucking liars.

And now I had to pee.

More than a little pissed off, I returned home, walked passed the bathroom and called the bank from my mobile phone.

Fuck. I forgot to pee. No worries, how long could the call take? I could wait it out.

The phone was answered with a chipper, “Good morning,” by an equally chipper gentleman and I feel the need to point out that I am nowhere near chipper, nor am I a gentleman in the morning and I most certainly do not say motherfucking chipper things, no matter what the time of day. Okay, that’s kind of a lie. I happily tell people to go fuck themselves all of the time, so I guess you could call that chipper. Anyway, more often than not, I’m just a heartbeat away from assaulting and killing chipper people who say chipper things and I want to kill them even more, when they do their chipper shit first thing in the morning. I smiled as I pictured disemboweling that chipper fucking bastard with my righteous anger.

And I really had to pee.

Anyway, the guy droned on…

“Thank you for calling Chase…” and whatever other scripted bullshit he was forced to say and that I didn’t pay attention to. He droned on, “My name is Richard. How may I be of service to you today.”

Gremlins were jumping on my bladder and I felt like I was about to explode. All I wanted to do was hang up the phone and run for the bathroom, but instead, I introduced myself and told Richard about the letter, telling him that I didn’t understand what was going on and asked for an explanation.
A very quick explanation. My kidneys were about to burst.

“I’ll be happy to be of service to you in that matter today. If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll look into that,” Richard said. “I just need to verify your identity and access your accounts.”

My back teeth were floating. I started fidgeting like a spastic monkey, all whacked out on crack.

We went through the whole rigmarole and Richard accessed my account. Richard had kept a running banter of small talk going up until this point, but suddenly, he was silent.

“Oh…” he said. “You’re that guy. One moment, please.”

Well, that sure sounded ominous. What the hell had he meant by ‘that guy’?

I found myself on hold, trapped listening to what I’m sure was supposed to be soothing music, but I’ve always found the strains of “Afternoon Delight” to be somewhat enraging. Like, shank a bitch, enraging, but I digress.

I couldn’t hold it any longer, I was about to wet my pants.

It only got worse when Debbie Boone started singing, “You Light Up My Life.”

I was losing my fucking mind. I ran for the bathroom and made it just in time. No one’s calling my Pauley Pissy Pants. I let out a sigh of relief, and then Debbie Boone cut out in mid-caterwaul just as Richard came back on the line, which saved me from going apeshit and strangling someone with the telephone cord. Just kidding, no one has a landline anymore.

“Mr. Marandola, are you using the restroom?” Richard asked.

I had forgotten that the phone was on speaker. Oops.

I stopped peeing and held that shit. I was really dying now. Do you know how hard it is to stop peeing and hold it in midstream?

“Um… no?” I answered. “What? No, I’m not. Who does that? That’s disgusting.”

I couldn’t believe it; I’d just been caught with my dick in my hands. Again. This was the entire situation that I’d been trying to avoid in the first place and instead, I’d grabbed the bull by the horn, so to speak, not once, but twice.

Not that it’s any consolation, really, but at least my bad decisions are epic.

“Sir…,” Richard began.

Uh, oh. That sounded even more ominous than the last thing he’d said, which had been as ominous as fuck.

Maybe I had done something wrong, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it could have been. I mean, I do a lot of shit. I made a mental list of all of my recent wrongdoings and while there were a shit ton of fuck ups, there wasn’t anything that involved the bank, or that would cause them to terminate their relationship with me. Not in recent memory, anyway. I use the term recent memory very loosely. As I mentioned, I do a lot of shit, so recent memory only encompasses about a week; anything longer than that counts as the remote past, because ain’t nobody got time for all that. Life with me is like living in dog years.

Meanwhile, I’m still holding my pee. Not cool. So totally not cool.

“The bank has closed your account based upon your personal behavior at one of our branches,” Richard continued.

What? What kind of fuckery was this? Personal behavior? While I’d never doubt that my behavior might cause a ruckus, I hadn’t even been inside of a branch for months. Something to do with my general loathing for humanity.

“Have to pee. Have to pee. Have to pee.” I thought. It had become my mantra.

“I’m not sure that I understand,” I said. “What exactly do you mean by personal behavior?”

“Mr. Marandola,” Richard replied, “Do we really need to get into all of that?”

Well, since only one of us seemed to know what the fuck ‘all of that’ encompassed, we sure as shit did. So clue me in, motherfucker.

Agitated, I responded, “Richard, I’m not sure what you mean. Dick. I haven’t been inside of a branch in months. Dick. I can’t think of any type of misbehavior or faux pas that I may have committed that would cause the bank to terminate its relationship with me. So, Dick, perhaps you could explain it all to me. Oh, and do you mind if I call you Dick?

I think I might have rubbed Dick the wrong way. So to speak. I thought I sensed a little anger in what he had to say next. Poor guy, maybe he has anxiety, or something.

“Sir, I would have preferred that you saved yourself the embarrassment, but on Tuesday night of last week…” Richard started.

Tuesday night? Wtf?

Oh, shit…

And in a flash, it all came back to me. Fuck me, but I was fucked and I knew I was fucked, because I was guilty as charged and I was pretty sure that there would be no way for me to talk my way out of this one.

Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Last Tuesday night.

Of all the fucking things…

Last Tuesday night, I had worked until after midnight. It had been a long day, I was tired and I was trying to bust out the door as quickly as possible, because I still had shit to do before I could go home and all I really wanted to do was get my ass home and into bed as soon as possible. I ran out the door and into a downpour, jumped in my car and peeled out of the parking lot. That was when I remembered that I had to pee and it wasn’t just a memory, either. In my haste to get out the door, I had forgotten that I really needed to use the restroom before leaving and now my bladder was reminding me quite forcefully. I thought about going back inside, but dismissed the thought, thinking, “No worries.” I only had to stop at the convenience store and the ATM and then I was home free. It was only 25 minutes, or so. Surely, I could hold it that long.

Except, I couldn’t.

I wasn’t even a mile down the road before I started squirming in my seat, sort of bouncing in place, not to the music, mind you, but to the beating of my bladder. I thought about pulling over, but it was raining, it was late and I was tired, so fuck it. Plus, the road was a busy one and the last thing that I wanted to happen was for me to get caught on the side of the road with my dick in my hands. It just wouldn’t look right. It’s unbecoming, frankly.

And so is having to register as a sex offender.

Besides, I’m like a fucking camel and I can hold my water.

I made it into 7-11 without pissing myself and I asked to use the restroom and was refused. Fuckers. I really, really had to go and briefly contemplated pissing on the side of the building, but again, there was that whole getting caught with my dick in my hands thing, so that ruled out that bright idea. After that whole unfortunate incident with the lamb at the petting zoo, I just can’t go through all of that again.

Anyway, while I was in 7-11, I also bought myself, of all fucking things, a Big Gulp, because as badly as I had to piss, I also needed a drink, because my mouth was drier than a fucking desert. It was a fucking conundrum, let me tell you. I thought that I was going to piss that liquid out just as soon as I drank it in. I stopped drinking.

By now, I was pretty frantic, but instead of finding relief, somewhere, fuck, anywhere, I drove myself over to my local bank branch to use the ATM. My paycheck is a direct deposit into a credit union account that I still have in PA. The ATM at my bank not only dispenses cash, but accepts cash deposits, so every two weeks I withdraw money from my PA account and deposit some of it into my WA account. It’s fairly simple, if a bit of a pain in the ass. I arrived at the bank and jumped out of the car, running to the ATM and I inserted my debit card, keyed in my PIN and withdrew some cash. As I waited for the machine to reset so that I could begin my next transaction, I had to pee so badly that I started pacing back and forth, growing more frantic as the moments dragged on.

The ATM reset and I inserted the card for my local account and keyed in the PIN, hit the right buttons for the cash deposit, inserted my cash and started doing the pee pee dance. The dam was breaking, the water was rising and it wouldn’t hold for much longer. Desperate, I headed for the shadows; I needed relief and I needed it right then. I turned my head back to the ATM and it was in the process of spitting my money back out and that shit was flying everywhere, because, oh, you know, fuck me.

I ran back to the ATM and scooped my money up from the ground and attempted the deposit again. The machine accepted the cash and I couldn’t hold it any longer. I ran over to my car, which was parked in a pretty inconspicuous spot and I unzipped and just let it fly. I felt so relieved that I just wanted to cry tears of fucking joy and I figured that any second now, some cop was going to pull up and catch me with my dick in my hands and that might prove to be somewhat embarrassing. But it didn’t happen.

Honestly, who was going to see me?

Instead, while I was in the midst of pissing out what felt like 1,192 gallons, I turned my head back to look at the ATM and that’s when I noticed “it”. “It”, in this case being a very large and prominent security camera that was pointed directly at me.

Fuck. Caught with my dick in my hands and on camera, no less. I always knew I’d be a star, one day.

I did the only sane and logical thing possible.

I turned, looked up at the camera, smiled and then waved. Like a grinning fucking fool.

Seriously. Okay, the bank might have security footage of me pissing all over the place, but who the fuck would ever see it? Unless something happened at the ATM and they needed the footage, no one would ever see it. No one, watches this shit live, right? So, I should have been in the clear. Should have been.

The only problem was that I wasn’t. Oh, fuck no, I wasn’t anywhere near the clear. It was a bit more fucking opaque than that.

Who watches that shit? Why? Fuck me. Did they count how many times I shook it too?

All of that shit flashed through my head in the space of a couple of heartbeats and I realized that Richard was still talking.

Why was he still talking? What the fuck was he talking about?

Oh, yeah. That…

“And I’m sorry, sir, but the bank feels that it is in our best interests not to have a relationship with a customer who urinates all over our property,” Richard finished.

Well, why the fuck not? I didn’t ask him that, of course, but I really wanted to.

The way I saw it, I was just an innocent victim, caught up in the chaos and the bank was making me out to be the bad guy. I mean, there I was, innocently answering a call of nature, one that couldn’t be left unanswered by that point, if I may remind you and was it my fault that the bank did not provide restroom facilities for their customers? How is the bank’s lack of foresight and lack of concern for the well-being and kidney comfort of their customers my fault? Why do people always blame the victim?

Richard was still talking. Why? Why was he still talking?

Dick.

“Is there anything else that I can help you with today, Mr. Marandola?” Richard asked.

Help me with something else? What the fuck did you help me with the first time, you pompous little fuck? Oh, and stop with the fucking talking. Stop. Stop it. Sit down and shut the fuck up, I need to think, here.

I couldn’t think of shit, but then I thought about begging for another chance, but I didn’t think it would help and I wanted to keep my dignity intact. In my heart, I realized that it was really and finally over between us and there was nothing I could do that would fix things.

I remember sighing, resigning myself to my fate and then a great feeling of fuck it all, I mean peace came over me and I relaxed. And started pissing.

“Mr. Marandola, you’re doing it again,” Richard complained.

“No, I’m not,” I replied.

“Mr. Marandola, I can hear you quite clearly,” Richard accused.

“I am not,” I said in self-defense.

“Yes, yes you are,” Richard accused once more.

I hate people who point fingers. Where was his proof? It’s not like he had me on video. Again.

“No, no I’m not. It’s not what you think,” I lied.

“Sir…” Richard started, the exasperation evident in his voice.

But I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t know what else to say or do at that point, I was at a complete and humiliating loss. Instead, I just ended the call. What the fuck else could I do?

I consoled myself with the thought that the bank might have rained on my parade, but at least I’d pissed on theirs.

Fuck.


I have to pee.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?





When I first moved to Washington State, I was looking to find a second job and believe me, I was doing a lot of job hunting. I’d been working two jobs for the past few years and it didn’t seem as if I would be able to stop working a second job any time soon.

For those of you who don’t know, I moved to Washington state a little over a year ago, trading the crowded Northeast for the wide open spaces of the Pacific Northwest. It’s beautiful here, the flowers and colors of summer brighten the days; panoramic views of snow-capped mountains; the bay and the sound; the wind and the sky. Everything is so much larger than life here, like the towering pines that reach towards heaven, so massive that you feel humbled to stand in their shadow. By light of day, the air is abuzz with bustling bees and bouncing butterflies, while enormous dragonflies cruise in lazy circles overhead. Our friends come to visit, the finches with their indignant shouts, cackling crows and a little red hummingbird that darts in and out. Other friends drop by; there’s a fat little raccoon that begs for his dinner and the many deer that eat from our hands. They have no fear of us and yet, they’re still a bit timid. If you’re lucky, the deer might let you pet them for a moment, before they shy away. Not that little raccoon bastard, though. That little fucker has some mighty big balls and will actually climb the stairs to the back deck, when he’s looking for a handout. He’s a cheeky little fucker, but he looks so cute, when he begs for food.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’d been doing a lot a lot of job hunting, trying to find something that was part-time and flexible, without having to work at a restaurant. Again. I’d spent days hitting the streets, dropping off resumes and filling out applications. I’d spent weeks online, submitting online job applications and resumes. My resume was posted to every job site on the fucking planet. Hours had been spent writing customized cover letters and tweaking my resume. I’d stared at my phone and laptop screens for endless hours, stared until my eyes had glazed over, clicking and tapping on links to apply for jobs via email and job placement services. I’d taken personality tests, psychological tests and competency exams. I’d spent hours, days and weeks hustling my ass off, trying to find a job. I should have had dozens of interviews and a few offers by that time, but I hadn’t heard a word. No emails, no phone calls, nothing. Not even fucking crickets. That led to a little bit of a crisis of confidence for me. I mean, I know I’m an asshole and all, but am I that much of an asshole that no one would want to hire me? You don’t need to answer that; it was just a rhetorical question.

Never one to give up, I kept plugging away, but I still had the nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. Even worse, I was starting to run out of money. Frankly, I was so fucking poor, I’d started rinsing off my paper plates to save money. Don’t judge me.

Meanwhile, my mobile phone had become possessed by some kind of bizarre, batshit and vindictive demon. The phone was throwing temper tantrums and having fucking seizures. When it spoke to me in my mother’s voice, I knew that it was possessed by Satan, himself. The phone would constantly crash and need to be restarted. Trying to find a signal at my house was an exercise in buffoonery, as well as gymnastics. I’d run around and chase the bars outdoors, indoors - from room to room and then back again. Reception would go from five bars to zero, from zero to three and then from three to fuck you, your call dropped in less time than it would take to scratch my balls and say, “What the fuck?” Messaging was hit or miss, mostly miss. Fuck that. It would have been faster to send fucking smoke signals. I shit you not. Staying connected to Wi-Fi was like holding out both of my hands, wishing in one and shitting in the other, just to see which hand would fill up first. I couldn’t receive any voice mails, either, because I’d never been able to set that up and it’s not like I would have bothered to listen to voice mails anyway. When I see a missed call, I return it. I’m not going to waste my time and listen to a fucking message when I’m only going to have to call you back and you’re just going to tell me the same fucking thing. Again. I don’t need to be told twice, so I might as well save myself the time and the effort, by just calling you back. I’m just efficient like that. Efficient motherfucker, that’s me. Sort of like a Terminator of Efficiency. Anyway, I could go on, but I think I’ll just stick to the highlights.

Well, since I had been doing all of that job hunting, I decided that it might be a good idea to get that voice mail issue taken care of, you know, just in case anyone might ever decide that I might be worthy of employment. Highly doubtful, but hey, you never know. I had tried to address the voice mail issue several months before, while I was still back in PA. My lazy ass actually walked into a T-Mobile store and interacted with an actual, live human being that was unable to provide me with any customer service, even though he happened to be a customer service representative. The person whose job title was a lie instructed me to dial 611 for customer care and that I would also have to interact with yet another human being.

Why? Why two? Wasn’t dealing with one human being punishment enough for any given person on any given day? Having to deal with two different people seemed a bit excessive and cruel. Wasn’t there a machine that I could talk to or press buttons and shit? I’m really good at that. The situation was making me anxious. What is this world coming to? Will the horrors never cease for a fragile flower such as myself?

So many questions. I actually have all of the answers, just so you know, I’m just not going to fucking tell you any of them. I’m a selfish prick like that.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

This motherfucker actually expected me to tap three numbers into the phone and then sit there on hold for God only knows how fucking long, just to talk to some dumbass named ‘Biff’, in Bangalore, just so I could get voice mails that I would never listen to? Get the fuck out of here. Jesus, talk about way too much fucking effort. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have procrastinated and just gone ahead and exchanged pleasantries with ‘Biff’ in Bangalore. I mean going ahead and getting shit done actually gets shit done and all, but sometimes the process can take too long and move too slowly and I just don’t have the patience for that kind of shit. Once I’d arrived in Washington, I thought it might be a good idea to finally resolve my voice mail issues and I mustered up the strength to dial 611. It was exhausting. I think I strained my finger a little.

The fucking sacrifices that I have to make.

The phone froze. Of course, it did. Undeterred by this nearly insurmountable obstacle, I restarted the phone, tapping my toes in time with the catchy little tune that I was humming while waiting for my phone to restart. That’s complete bullshit, of course. I was mentally picturing myself smashing that fucking piece of shit phone into its component atoms, allowing it to return to the cosmic dust from whence it came, but I couldn’t, which sucked, because I really wanted to. Living the dream. Yeah, baby.

The phone restarted, I keyed in the number, the phone started to dial and then the call dropped. I tried again and the call dropped a second time. Again and again and again and again and again…

Finally, the call connected and I was too scared to even fucking breathe, afraid that if I did, I’d lose the signal. I was still as a statue, looking all like Michelangelo’s “David” and shit, except that my dick’s bigger than his. A lot bigger. Ladies, I just felt the need to point that out. It’s like the Moby Whale of dicks. I also rent it out for weddings and special events, although most of my exes might say it would be best at a funeral. Meh, tomato/potato.

An interactive, computerized voice answered the phone. Fuck me, I hate those fucking things, but at least it wasn’t a human being. Yet. I hate that fucking caveat. The computerized recording started spouting all of the standard bullshit that all computerized recordings go on about and asked me why I was stupid enough to have to call customer care.

“I need my voice mail reset,” I enunciated, slowly and carefully.

“Did you say that you were calling because you’re an idiot and you don’t know how to use your mobile device?” the computer asked, “Did I hear you right?”

“No,” I replied.

“Let’s try that again,” the computer stated.

“Voice mail,” I tried again.

“Did you say that you want to know how to set up your voice mail? Did I hear you right?” the computer asked in its sneering and mocking tone.

Motherfucker.

“No, you fucking idiot,” I said, my voice rising. “I just want to reset my fucking voicemail.”

“I don’t have to take this shit from you,” said the voice.

No, not really. The computer asked me if I’d prefer to speak to an agent and I jumped at the chance, quickly saying the word agent, like sixteen bazillion fucking times, until the computer graciously passed me along to the agent queue and an interminable wait. Let me tell you, that computer was one arrogant, little fuck. While I was being held captive, a recorded message kept trying to feed me bullshit about some sort of bullshit, but I just wasn’t hungry enough to eat any bullshit. Finally, the recording asked me if I’d like to have an agent call me back, instead of being on hold until I died of old age and it promised that I wouldn’t lose my place in the queue, if I did.

That was a no brainer; sign me up, bitches! Who the hell wants to sit on hold and listen to the same bullshit over and over? Not me. Fuck, it’s almost like reading one of my stories.

I took the easy way out. The recording told me that it would only be two minutes until my call would be returned. I smelled bullshit, but hey, whatever. Since it was only going to be “two minutes,” better known as four times the best thirty seconds of her life that a woman will ever enjoy with me, I sat by the phone and oh, so patiently waited for my call to be returned.

Fifteen minutes later… Nothing.

Thirty minutes later… Still nothing.

Thirty-five minutes later, the phone rang and I answered it. It was some jackass wanting to talk to me about continuing my education. Don’t get me wrong, I like education and school just fine and have nothing against them. I like them so much, in fact, that I went to third grade three times and by the time that I was in fifth grade, I had the biggest penis in my class. I was also twenty-six. As much as I love education, I really just wasn’t in the mood for that bullshit.

“Your mom already taught me everything I need to know.” I said and I hung up the phone.

After forty-five minutes, the phone rang again and this time, it’s T-Mobile customer care. The snotty little douchebag that returned my call wanted to know why I was so stupid that I had to deal with an actual human being instead of being just stupid enough to be able to solve my technical difficulties myself, by using the automated system. The way that fucking asshole kept going on about the fucking automated system, I thought maybe it was like his fucking kid, or something. Shit, I’ll bet that little prick fucked his PlayStation and it gave birth to the automated system; the bastard child of sexual assault.

If my arms were as long as my penis, I could have reached through the phone, throat punched that arrogant little motherfucker and smiled as he turned blue and flopped around on the floor. Oh, if wishes were horses.

I began by explaining that I needed my voicemail to be reset. The call dropped. I resisted the urge to set my phone on fire and instead, I started walking around in circles on the deck, chasing the cell phone signal. I got lucky and found a spot where I had three bars. Glory, glory, hallefuckinglujah.

I pulled out my lighter and flicked it a few times, sprouting flame. I did this within full sight of my phone, making sure that it understood the danger and the threat to its wellbeing.  Fucker. I’m pretty sure it got the message, though, because I was done fucking around.

I called customer care once more, the automated system was engaged and I immediately started asking for an agent. It’s the same story as before. I can either wait on the phone or I can have an agent call me back in three minutes. Whatever. Using my earlier experience as a performance rubric, I figured it would be at least an hour before they called me back, so I tossed my phone on the counter and started doing stuff around the house. Sure enough, the moment that my dick was in my hand (figuratively; okay, literally) is the same moment that the phone started to ring and I had to run to answer it. Run. As in walking quickly, but faster. Fuck, it was horrible. I’ll never do that shit again. Pinky swear. So, if you ever do see me running, you’d best start running too. There’s probably a really good reason for me to be running. Just trust me on this one, okay?

I answered the phone again and this time it was a woman with a very thick accent that I could barely understand. Even worse, “Betty” was a low talker. Great. Yeah… great. Just fucking great. Yeah, no. I could already see that call going sideways. I deliberated hanging up the phone and trying my luck again, in the great customer service agent crap shoot, but I decided against it. Instead, I explained my situation to the agent and she told me that it wouldn’t be a problem to reset my voicemail and that she just needed me to give her the last four digits of the primary account holder’s Social Security number, which would have been my now ex-girlfriend Jen’s Social Security number and a number that I did not know, not having expected to ever need it. I informed the agent that I was named on the account as being able to make any and all changes. She said that was fine, but that she still needed those four numbers to proceed. Well, it was after 10:00 pm, my time, which meant that it was after 1:00 am back on the east coast and Jen was soundly asleep. I certainly wasn’t about to call her and wake her up over something as trivial as my voice mail. Once again, I plead my case to the agent; I explained that I was job hunting and that I really needed to have working voicemail, or I would be living in a cardboard box on the street with my little dog Toto, too. My sad tale of woe must have melted her heart just a little bit, because she told me that she was going to ask her supervisor and that she’d be back in a jiffy. In a jiffy. Seriously. Who fucking speaks like that? It’s archaic as fuck.  Unfortunately, the agent was back on the line in less than a minute and the answer from her supervisor was, “No.” Yeah, fuck you, supervisor and bless your little fucking heart. The agent recommended that I either get the digits from Jen or that I could have Jen call on my behalf. Yeah, no shit, Sherlock, but thanks. She then asked if there was anything else that she could help me with.

Bitch, you couldn’t help me in the first fucking place, what makes you think you could help me with anything else? Why is it that motherfuckers who can’t help you always want to know if they can’t help you with something else, too? It’s like, here, I just totally cock blocked you, can I do it again? And they do that shit with a smile, you know those motherfuckers do.

I told “Betty” that no, she couldn’t and then I thanked her for not helping me, because that’s just the kind of polite motherfucker that I am. Discouraged, I hung up the phone.

I called Jen the next morning and I told her what had happened. She told me that she’d take care of it, but that it might take a day or two. No worries. Meanwhile, I still hadn’t received a single call about a job. Wtf? I just didn’t get it and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I’d even started applying for jobs that I normally wouldn’t even consider applying for, but wages out here are pretty decent. The minimum wage here in Washington state is $9.47/hr., but almost everyone pays more. Most jobs seem to start anywhere from $11-$18/hr., unless you’re in the restaurant business, where food servers and bartenders are earning the minimum wage, plus tips. Not a bad deal.

I sent out more resumes.

After a few more days of turning up nothing during my job search, I received an email from a recruiter informing me that they had been trying to reach me by phone and that they had been unable to leave me a voice mail. Of course they couldn’t leave me a fucking voicemail, because I needed my fucking voicemail reset and I couldn’t get my fucking voicemail reset and Jen still hadn’t called T-Mobile. Over the course of the next hour, I received two additional emails from other employers, informing me of the same thing. What? Wtf? My phone never rang. I knew that signal strength was shit where I lived, but I was still receiving calls from friends and family back on the east coast without problems, so I knew that I could get calls, but apparently, no one on the west coast could call me. While that explained a lot, it sure as fuck didn’t solve anything. Wtf? No. Seriously. What the fucking fuck?

Thankfully, I could still make local calls and I called all of the companies that had contacted me and left apologetic voicemails and then I replied to the emails, as well, apologized again and expressed my continued interest in the positions. I started thinking about all of the resumes that I had put out there, wondering whom else might have tried to contact me and the opportunities that I might have missed. And then I started worrying about all of the new resumes that I had just sent out; no one would be able to contact me. Fuck.

I called Jen again and told her what was going on, that I seemed to be able to make calls just fine and could receive calls from the east coast, but when it came to the west coast, I was shit out of luck. Jen told me that she was on the other line with T-Mobile and that she would call me back when she was finished.

After a few minutes, Jen called me back and she told me that my voice mail had been reset and that I would now be able to set it up. Hooray! Jen also told me that my phone needed some sort of magical witchcraft fuckery done to it, in order for the phone to be able to pick up west coast towers and that T-Mobile was also going to send me some kind of whizz-bang doohickey for me to plug into the wall and that this particular piece of technological wizardry would dramatically enhance my signal reception. The only thing that I needed to do to get the whole shit show rolling was restart my phone and the changes would take effect immediately. Then, I just needed to sit back and wait for the postman to deliver the letter, the sooner the better. Oh please, Mr. Postman…

Jen and I said our goodbyes, I restarted the phone and then I immediately set up my voicemail. At least I tried to, anyway. The fucking phone wouldn’t dial and I kept getting a notification that I wasn’t registered on the network. I walked around the house, looking for signal and I finally found a single bar. I jumped up and down, stood on my toes, climbed up the drainpipe and performed awkward, contortionist moves that would have made a yoga instructor green with envy and the fucking phone still wouldn’t dial. I tried over and over until finally, the call connected. I was so happy, I wanted to piss myself with relief. I followed all of the recorded instructions and pressed all of the right numbers. Fuck, it was exhausting work, but I managed. After what seemed to have been hours of strenuous and exhausting effort, I was now at the point where I could record my very own personalized greeting. My friends had talked me out of using my intended greeting, which was a simple, thoughtful and very effective, “Fuck off and die,” by claiming that it wasn’t very friendly and might not be what a prospective employer would want to hear. What the fuck ever happened to freedom of speech? Censorship is such bullshit. It’s all that fucking Obama’s fault.

Motherfuckers. Motherfuckers, everywhere.

Where was I? Oh, yeah…

The personalized greeting thing.

Why did I need a personalized greeting? Why did I even have to speak at all? I didn’t really want anyone to call me, I didn’t really want anyone to leave me a voicemail and I certainly didn’t want to speak to anyone, unless it was about a job. Leave me the fuck alone. I’m anti-social, don’tcha know?

I opted for the option to record my name, instead of a full greeting and let the recording take care of the rest. I made sure to congratulate myself for my own brilliance, because we all deserve recognition for a job well done. Honestly, I thought I deserved a plaque or some sort of honorable mention, but great genius is so often overlooked.

As I started to speak my name for the voicemail greeting, the fucking call dropped. Again.

Motherfucker.

Once again, I fought the urge to smash my phone into its component atoms. I fought that urge a lot, with my old phone, but instead, I reigned in my desire for violence and called my voicemail once again. It had to work eventually, right?

Did you know that Albert Einstein, who was a really smart and important guy, defined insanity as repeating the same action over and over, expecting a different result?

Yeah, it was like that.

Holy shit. I just started page nine and I haven’t even made it to the real story, yet. Fuck. I hope you’ve got some time to spare. Jesus, this is going to be my longest story ever and it’s just about a fucking phone call. It’s all of these fucking tangents.

Baffle them with your bullshit, indeed.

So, I called back and everything worked just as it should and I was able to record my name like a normal, competent person. Easy peasy, right? Nope. I played back the recording and decided that I sounded too serious, stiff and straight, so I invoked a Mulligan and did a do over. I played it back again and thought that I now sounded entirely too gay and that wouldn’t do either. I really didn’t want to sound like a refugee from some bad off Broadway musical. I recorded my name a third time. I mean it’s my name fer fuck’s sake and I still couldn’t get it right. You’d think I could manage to speak my own fucking name, but no, because fuck. I played it back a third time. Crap. That time, poor reception had left the recording filled with static. I tried again and got the same result. And again? Wtf? I’d had enough of that fuckery; I mean; we’re not talking fucking rocket science here. I’m not sure how many fucking tries it took to get it right, but it sure took a lot of fucking tries. I’ve heard that the 173rd time is the fucking charm and apparently, it is.

Not long after I had finished failing my human competency test, I received a voice mail. A voice mail, a voice mail, I got a fucking voice mail! I was so excited; I was pissing myself with glee. Wait. The phone never rang. How the fuck do I have a voice mail if the phone never rang?

I called my voicemail and listened to the message. The message had been left by a recruiter named Holly, from a major telecommunications company, asking me to call her back in reference to the position that I had applied for. Her voice was hot, sultry and sexy, so I automatically assumed that she was an ugly troll. Trust me on this. It’s been my personal and painful experience that chicks with hot, sultry and sexy voices turn out to be none of the above when viewed in the cold, harsh and unfortunately, sober light of morning. Unfortunately, this seems to be the way it works and life is grossly unfair, but I want you to take this little nugget of wisdom with you and pass it along to future generations. Keep the fire alive, people.

I really wanted this job, so I dutifully dialed back and spoke to the (automatically assumed) hideous troll with the sexy voice. We chatted idly for a bit and then Holly asked me a series of interview questions, which I responded to with my usual wit, tact and charm and yet somehow, I still didn’t fuck things up. Interesting and hooray, for fucking me. I managed to bullshit my way through the rest of the interview and cried the blues to Holly, about my phone issues. She seemed sympathetic and agreed that the switching nonsense could really muck things up. Before ending our call, Holly informed me that I would have another telephone interview at 10:00 am the next morning, with Heidi, a different hiring manager. Heidi, I was told, would be asking me a laundry list of questions that would be different from the ones that I had already answered. I agreed to the time and the interview, thanked Holly and we concluded the call.

The next morning, at 9:50 am, I was seated and waiting for the call from Heidi. I had my phone, a pen and a notebook, in case I needed to take notes (which I did). I played on Facebook while I waited for the phone to ring, mainly because I was bored and I thought it would be somewhat more fun than shoving my thumb up my ass and sitting there in suspense. What can I say? Sometimes, I choose wrongly. At two minutes before the hour, I turned off Facebook and I stared at the screen of my phone, willing the fucking thing to ring.

It didn’t ring.

Ten o’clock comes and goes and I’m still sitting there like a dog in suspense. No bueno. Nope. No bueno, at all.

Wtf?

About ten minutes after ten, a voicemail notification popped up on my phone. The phone never rang. Again. Are you fucking kidding me? Motherfucker, if there’s enough of a signal for me to get a voicemail notification, there should be enough of a fucking signal for me to get a call.

I retrieved the voicemail and it was from Heidi, the HR manager with the major telecommunications company, mentioning our interview and asking me to return her call.

Fuck. This bullshit had really started to get old and it had the added benefit of making me look like a complete jackass, which really isn’t that hard to do, but it’s the type of goal in which I really don’t need any extra help in order to achieve it. No worries, I can do it on my own, but thanks a bunch.

Heidi’s voice, like Holly’s, oozed sex and seduction, but unlike with Holly, I didn’t automatically assume that Heidi was ugly. No sir. Quite the opposite, in fact. I pictured Heidi as having Dresden blue eyes; long, blonde, and braided hair; pert breasts ready to pop through her dirndl; flawless skin and long, long legs encased in those sexy lederhosen that drive all the little boys wild. Ja, ja. Basically, I was picturing the St. Pauli girl, sitting behind her desk with her skirt hiked up and breathlessly awaiting my phone call. You know, the kind of thing that will never, ever happen to me. The kind of thing that I can only dream about. Still, I can dream.

If life weren’t such an unfair bitch, that is exactly what my reality should have been, but alas, life is a fickle cunt and some dreams are just never meant to be.

I fucking hate my reality sometimes.

I called Heidi back and she immediately answered the phone. Her voice purred like a nitrous fueled, turbocharged sex kitten. That voice. Those lederhosen. Take me, liebschen.

I managed to stutter a greeting and I was somehow able introduce myself without sounding like a complete fuckhead. I quickly explained my phone problems and apologized for being so much trouble. Heidi laughed. I hoped that was a good sign.

After recovering from my phone fumble, the interview was off to a good start and Heidi started asking me her prepared questions, such as, “What did you like most about your last job?” and “What did you like least about your last job?” Scintillating shit. Just as shit was getting deep, the inevitable happened and the call dropped, because of course it fucking did. Fer fuck’s sake, sometimes I think that I am the physical embodiment of Murphy’s Law.

I called Heidi back. The phone wouldn’t dial. Of course not. Why the fuck would it work when I really needed it to. I cursed. A lot. Hard to imagine, I know, but I might have said a fuck or twelve. Who counts?

After a bit of rage and frustration, I mean thoughtful and peaceful introspection, I ran inside the house and I grabbed my buddy Luke’s iPhone. Now, you have to understand that my use of any Apple product is an indication of just how desperate I was. Fuck you, fanboys and girls, but I hate those fucking things and I really don’t feel like going off on a four-page rant about just how much and why I hate the fucking things. Suffice it to say, I hate everything Apple. I turned on Luke’s phone and saw that the power level was only at twenty percent, but surely, that had to be enough power to finish the interview. Surely. Fuck, I surely hoped so.

I frantically dialed Heidi back and apologized profusely, yet again, for all of the trouble. By that time, I thought that all hope of ever having St. Pauli girl sex with Heidi was probably out the window, but hey, stranger shit has happened, no matter how unlikely. At least Heidi and I would always have Paris, along with my twisted and juvenile fantasies.

Heidi continued asking me questions and I continued answering them, right up until the moment that I realized that I wasn’t talking to anyone but myself. The fucking iPhone battery had died.

I quickly grabbed my phone, dialed and oh, sweet baby Jesus, the call went straight through.

“Hi, Steve,” Heidi answered. She was laughing, so that had to be a good sign, right? Right?

That wasn’t a hypothetical question. I really needed the reassurance, at the time.

We continued the interview and I do feel that I comported myself well, if a bit awkwardly. Heidi asked me question after question and I always had the proper answer ready. I may be an asshole in person, but I can fake my way through an interview quite well.

Usually. I’ve blown an interview or two in my time.

Heidi started to wrap things up, but she let me know that she had one last question for me. It was a question that almost cost me the interview and one that came close to sending me flying right over the fucking edge.

“Have you ever felt frustrated by a piece of technology?” Heidi asked me.

Frustrated by a piece of technology? Me? The guy that wanted to smash his phone to pieces? No, not at all. Wtf? Hadn’t this woman heard a single fucking word that I’d said? My phone! My fucking phone! It’s possessed! It’s fucking demonic! Kill the fucking thing with fire!

I wish that I could have said all of that, I really, really do. Instead, I thought that shit right to her face, I swear I did. That’s the way it is and the way I am when shit gets real. After taking a moment to compose myself, I launched into a calm and rational explanation of all of the problems that I’d been having with my phone and I made sure to attach a humorous face to my story. I was lying through my fucking teeth, of course.

Heidi concluded the interview shortly after I answered her final question and she let me know that I had made the cut and she would be calling me back shortly to set up an in person interview. She thanked me for my time and I made sure to thank her for her time and consideration, as well as my new sexual fantasy, but I prudently left out that last part.

Not long after I had finished my interview with Heidi, she called back with the time and date of my next interview, a multi-person process that was scheduled for two days hence.

It was one of the most insane interviews of my life.


To be continued…


Did you read the last one?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dick Breath

I was out and about today, running a few errands, taking it easy and trying to avoid any general fuckery, when this shit happened.

I had stopped at Target to buy a few things when I felt a sudden urge and took a detour to the men's room to empty my bladder. I walked into the empty lavatory, saw that there were four unoccupied urinals and took the one on the far left, which was also the furthest one from the door. This way, if anyone else should come in, they could use the one to the far right, which is proper urinal etiquette. It's all about positioning, every man knows this, you have to leave at least a one urinal gap between users and if you can't, you need to either use a stall or man up and hold it for a few. Choose wisely. I had just let out a relieved sigh and let the flow go when I heard the door open and another person walked in. No big deal, but then this fucking guy walks up to the urinal right next to mine, which is a major breach of the Bro code, unzips and lets it fly.  I'm totally stunned and like, "Dude, what the fuck?" and he's just totally standing there, blissfully unaware of his breach of urinal etiquette.

What the fucking fuck? Why did he have to pick the one next to mine? There were two other empty spots, why couldn't he have used one of those? It's all about separation. There was no need to invade my personal space. Was dude going to offer to shake it for me too? And fer fuck's sake, no peeking!

It was like peeing with George Michael, or maybe this guy:

But at least I didn't have to deal with this shit:

Feeling slightly violated, I shook it off and went to wash my hands. Freaky stand next to you dude finished up and I thought to myself, "I'll bet dude doesn't wash his hands," when he surprised me by walking up to the sink, turning on the water and getting his hands wet.

Sounds pretty normal, right? What happened next was anything but...

I watched stunned and horrified as, I shit you not, the guy cupped his hands, filled them with water and took a fucking drink. 

And then he washed his hands.

Wait. What? Holy fucking shit. I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. This guy had just peed; held his dick in his hands, for crying out loud and then he just went and casually drank from those same hands. But then, and only then, after his dick had been in his hands and after he drank from those same dick filled hands, that were probably splashed with pee, that's when he decided it would be a good fucking idea to wash his fucking hands? What the fucking fuck?

Dude, you just drank dick! And pee! 

Why even bother washing your hands, at that point? It was like closing the barn door after the fucking horse has escaped. Why? Why would he do that? It was fucking disgusting. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Why not just stick your dick in your mouth? It's the same fucking thing, isn't it? Shit, don’t get me wrong, I’d suck my own dick if I could, but fuck, at least I’d wash it, first. Now this fucking guy is walking around all day long with fucking dick breath. Fuck. So fucking gross. Just picture it. Dude steps up and says, “Hello,” and you’re blasted with a face full of dick breath. Noooooo. It’s just fucking wrong. Dude, go suck on a blue mint or something.



Think about this the next time you go to kiss your mother; her mouth has probably had at least one dick stuffed into it. Just sayin'.



I walked around Target, trying to keep my mind focused on what I needed to buy, but I was still shocked by what I had just seen. I bought the things that I needed and left the store. As I walked outside, there was Dick Breath, locked in a passionate kiss with his girlfriend. I idly wondered if she might recognize the familiar taste in her mouth as I shook my head and walked away.

Hope they bought some fucking mouthwash...

Thanks for stopping by! If you've enjoyed what you've read, give this story a try:


Thursday, June 16, 2016

One Stick Pony

There I was, riding through the desert on a horse with no name...

Okay, maybe it wasn't exactly a desert.

And maybe it wasn't really a horse, either, but I swear it didn't have a name, or maybe the horse did have a name and it was something sordid that was whispered in back alleys in the dead of the night, or maybe, just maybe, I'm completely fucked in the head. You be the judge.

You probably want an explanation. No worries, I'm about to give you one, you poor fucking bastard.

La, la, la, la, la, la... La, la, la

On the first part of the journey...

It started out as a typical, lazy Saturday morning at my girlfriend Hannah's house. By the time I popped out of the shower, Hannah was already downstairs making breakfast for her daughter, Little Moon (not their real names), who is all of eight years old, tall, stringy and blonde, with an infectious and toothless grin. Little Moon is just a bit more than somewhat of a precocious kid, like twenty miles over the fucking line kind of precocious. Anyway, I bounced down the stairs, without falling, wished everyone a good morning and then said something that was undoubtedly cheesy. Cheesy, I say, because that's what dudes who are dads do, we speak in cheese. Dads who speak in cheese, telling their horrid, cheesy jokes are the fucking worst, let me tell ya'. Pure fucking torture. I used to run for the hills, whenever my father got started. It was inhumane; the true face of child abuse. That man couldn't tell a joke. As for my kids, well, they've earned their punishment. I like to have them trapped in the car, at speed, on the highway, when I start telling my cheesy ass Dad jokes. Hell is for children.

Little Moon looked up from her pancakes and rolled her eyes at me. I wasn't impressed.


Hannah and I briefly discussed our plans for the day, she and Little Moon were headed to a friend's house for a swim and I would be headed off on an adventure with my friend Luke, until I reconnected with the girls later that evening, for dinner with Hannah, Little Moon and their friends, but all of that was still hours away. Once our executive level strategy session was out of the way, the three of us talked about whatever kind of humdrum stuff we discussed, until Little Moon told us about a totally cool, super secret spy pen that her totally cool BFF Abby had shown her at school.


"It's not a totally cool, super secret spy pen anymore if she showed it to you," I told Little Moon.


"Whatever." Little Moon replied and rolled her eyes again. "It's just the coolest thing ever. You can write in invisible ink on one side of the pen and it has a black light on the other side, so that you can read the secret messages." Little Moon then went on to explain, in great detail, just why she needed that totally cool, super secret spy pen and that it only cost way more money than it should for a cheap piece of crap like that (but maybe not in those exact words) and how she would be the envy of every child in her school if she had her very own totally cool, super secret spy pen and how she would become a complete outcast, a social pariah needing years of therapy, if she didn't.

"You wouldn't happen to know where to find this totally cool, super secret spy pen, would you?" Hannah asked her daughter.

"It just so happens that I do," Little Moon answered. "They sell it at Fairhaven Toy Garden, downtown, right by Village Books."

Hmmm... Village Books. I'd been meaning to stop in there. The bookstore was supposed to have a machine that could print books on demand, as in print myself a few copies of my stories as a vanity project kind of demand. The rusty gears in my mind started turning. I don't think they turned very far.

Little Moon then went on to explain that she had to have that totally cool, super secret spy pen that very same day, because the toy store was closed on Sundays and she had to have that pen before walking into school on Monday or the world would stop spinning, the sky would fall and everyone would laugh at her, reminding us once again that such cruelty would require years of therapy.

"Little Moon," Hannah started, "Momma has lots of things to do around the house today, before we can go swimming. I don't know that we'll have the time to do that today."

"Please, Momma?" Little Moon pleaded.

"I could take her," I blurted out, in a fit of insanity. "I could take her to get the pen and then we could stop at Village Books and I could ask about printing a few copies of my book and then we could head over to Sweet Art and get some chocolate fudge. This way, we'll both be out of your hair and you can get whatever you need to do taken care of. "

If you talk fast enough, sometimes you can baffle them with your bullshit.  Sometimes. Evidently, this wasn't one of those.

"This is just your excuse  to buy chocolate fudge and you wouldn't happen to be thinking about stopping at a certain little ice cream parlour that just happens to be next door to the candy store? Paper Dreams does sell chocolate fudge, you know and it's right next door to Village Books." Hannah asked me in what I must describe as a very accusatory tone.

"I've had their fudge and I'm not a fan," I said. "The chocolate fudge at Sweet Art is the best I've ever tasted; it's made with LOVE. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about any ice cream, but now that you've mentioned it..."

It was time to bring out the big guns. Remember kids, always cheat, if you want to win. This is why I'm a paragon of fucking virtue.

"What do you think about getting some ice cream too, Little Moon?"

Little Moon was all about that ice cream. She sure didn't roll her eyes at me that time.

The tide had turned. Resistance is futile.

"Who eats ice cream at nine o'clock in the morning?" Hannah asked rhetorically.

"Who doesn't?" I answered, just as rhetorically.

Hannah was sold. Shit, she just about chased us out the door. Sucker. Wait. Maybe I was the sucker. Maybe Hannah just wanted to enjoy some peace and quiet, or something. More likely, Hannah had a few souls stashed away and she wanted to devour them. She is a Ginger, after all.


Hannah handed me twenty dollars and told me that it was for Little Moon's pen and whatever else. I told her not to worry about it, but she insisted. We settled for Hannah buying the pen and I would buy the sweets.

"May I please buy a book with the leftover money, Momma?" Little Moon asked, just as sweet as could be. "I've read all of my books."

This kid was good. What parent is going to tell their kid they can't have a book? Little Moon sure knew her shit. She's got Hannah wrapped around her finger. They make quite a pair, those two and they love the shit out of each other.

"Of course, baby," Hannah told her.

Ha! Suuuuuckerrrrrr.

"Momma, may I please get a plushy instead of a book? I haven't got a plushy of the week, yet," Little Moon reached.

"That's because there's no such thing as a plushy of the week," countered Hannah.

"But Momma," Little Moon shot back, "It's been so very long..."

I was fairly certain that Little Moon had overreached with that last request and I was quickly proven right when Hannah interrupted her daughter.

"I don't think so, baby," Hannah informed her. "That money is only for a book."

"Awww, Momma..." Little Moon replied with typical pre-teen angst, but she let it go..

Nice try, kid.

"The two of you should probably run along and get going, before it gets too late to go," Hannah told us.

Wow, Hannah sure was in a hurry to get rid of us. She must have been anxious to get at those souls. Who eats souls at nine o'clock in the morning?

I grabbed the twenty and put it in my wallet, ushering Little Moon out the door and into my car. We drove the ninety second drive into downtown Fairhaven, because I'm too damn lazy to walk a few blocks and we found a parking space right where we needed to be and that had to be a good omen, didn't it?

Well, didn't it?

Fuck no. Of course, it wasn't, but at least it was predictable.

We exited the car and I scanned all four corners. Village Books, an antique store, an empty store with a For Rent sign and some other shit shop. No toy store. Okay, no problem. I pulled out my handy dandy smartphone and I conjured up the Oracle of Google. How the fuck did we ever survive before Google? The gods smiled upon me and the address popped up and it was at the opposite end of the block, but I didn't recall having passed the toy store earlier, but in Google we trust, so Little Moon and I trudged down the block. No toy store.

The Google had failed me. There is no God.

I called Hannah. She told me that the store was back at the other end of the block, the very corner that we had just trudged from. I casually mentioned that there was no toy store at that location, but Hannah was insistent, so Little Moon and I trudged back down the block to our starting point. We arrived back at my car and I looked for the store again. Nothing. I had a sudden, sinking feeling. Little Moon and I crossed the street and approached the empty store. Sure enough, it had been the location of Fairhaven Toy Garden. I was about to have a very upset eight year old girl on my hands.

Fuck.

"Oh, no!" Little Moon cried.

"Let's see if they've moved," I said. "Maybe they have their new address posted on a sign in the window."

I've never been a praying man, but that seemed as good a time as any to start.

As we came closer to the store, I could see that there was indeed a sign on the window. It said, "WE'VE MOVED" and nothing else.

Double Fuck.

It was then that I noticed my saving grace, a small sign on the front door that had the new address of the store. Meltdown avoided. Thank fuck. Eight year old girls are volatile things. I should know, I tend to freak out like one, so that's two, eight year old girl meltdowns we'd just avoided.

This was turning into the journey of Odysseus.


The new location was only four blocks away. Unfortunately, part of that walk included trudging back down the block that we had just trudged down twice and then trudging down it again on the way back. Fuck me. It was like the Triple Crown of Fucks.

Fer fuck's sake.

We trudged back down the block. We trudged and we schlepped and then we trudged some more, finally arriving at the toy store.

 Walking. Like common people, or something. Who does that shit? It was fucking exhausting. I'm not a fucking animal, you know. Seriously, who does that shit?

We walked into the toy store and Little Moon was like, well, she was like a kid in a fucking toy store. What the fuck did you think she was like? The shit that I have to explain to you people. I fucking swear...

We looked around at this and that, played with all kinds of crap designed to help children to separate adults from their money, but we came up empty when it came to the totally cool, super secret spy pen. Apparently, that thing could hide better than Anne Frank.

Little Moon found a display of stuffed birds that tweeted or made whatever kind of annoying fucking noise that birds make and she made sure that I heard every fucking bird call. Twice. Sometimes, even three times, just for shits and giggles, I guess.

"You're not getting a plushy, Little Moon," I told her.

"I  know," she answered, "I'm just showing you what they have."

She moved on to the next bird. Tweet fucking tweet. I wanted to shoot myself in the fucking head.

"Why don't we ask at the counter?" I suggested to Little Moon. I think I was becoming a little exasperated at that point and I think she knew it and took pleasure in it. Little Moon stared me straight in the eye as she exchanged bird after bird, a smile of savage glee plastered on her face.

"Why don't you?" she replied.

Yeah, definitely exasperated.

We approached the counter and I inquired about the totally cool, super secret spy pen.

The very helpful and friendly sales staff informed me that the totally cool, super secret spy pen was one of their most popular items and one of those very nice ladies came out from behind the counter to help us find what we were looking for.

"They're right over here," she told us, leading the way. "Oh my..."

Oh my? That didn't sound good. Nope, that shit didn't sound good at all. Oh my never fucking sounds good.

"I don't see any," the saleswoman said, "But I'll check the computer."

She went back behind the counter and checked the computer. Unfortunately, they were completely sold out of totally cool, super secret spy pens. Yeah, this was turning into the Triple Crown of Fucks, alright.

Fuck.

Little Moon did not take the news well, but I was able to distract her by telling her that she could pick out something else; anything she wanted.

She ran right to the closest display of stuffed animals.

"Anything but that, Little Moon," I cautioned. "I'm not going to get into trouble with your mom by getting you one of those."

"Awwww...," Little Moon said, but she listened.

Little Moon and I wandered around the store, checking out this and that once again. I swear, that girl must have picked up and hugged every single stuffed animal in that store, telling me how they were all just meant to come home with her.

Good luck with that.

We reached the back of the store and it was loaded with art and craft supplies. Little Moon wasn't interested in much until she finally came across something that caught her eye. It was a diary, with three cartoon owls on the cover and just perfect for a little girl. Plus, anything that encourages a child to write creatively is a wonderful thing, so I was all for it, for the most part.

"This is what I want," Little Moon informed me. "I need a diary and this one is perfect."

Well, it was almost perfect. The only problem that I had with the diary was that I thought it looked a little too childish and that she might outgrow it quickly. Plus, when you buy the very first thing you see, you might end up with a case of buyer's remorse if you spot something that you like better, later on. It's a bit of a conundrum.

I explained how I felt to Little Moon and she did not like my answer. I suggested that before we bought the diary, we should walk back over to Village Books and see if they had any diaries for sale and that she might find something she might like better, over there.

"What if I don't see anything that I like at Village Books?" Little Moon asked me.

"Then we'll walk right back down here and we'll buy this one," I told her.

"Do you promise?"

I promised and we schlepped our way back over to Village Books. Little Moon showed me a shortcut that saved us two blocks. I really wish that whole shortcut thing would have come up earlier, you know, like before my ass was dragged all over downtown Fairhaven. We wandered around Village Books for a bit and then I suggested that we ask where the diaries were.

"You can ask," Little Moon told me.

Not that shit again.

Ask I did and we soon found ourselves in front of a display of diaries. There was a much larger selection to choose from and Little Moon quickly found the perfect diary. It was a much nicer book and was definitely much less childlike than the ones at the toy store; perfect for an eight year old girl.

With her diary in hand, Little Moon and I climbed the stairs to the children's section of the store. At the very first display, there was a book on Greek mythology that just happened to be open to a picture of Medusa. I had to do a double take, because I thought it was one of my wedding photos. Little Moon was off on a mission, bouncing with excitement as she ran ahead to where the new releases were, rounding the corner and quickly disappearing from sight. No worries, she wasn't that far ahead.


As I took my next few steps, I noticed that there was a large wooden barrel filled with stick horses. You know what I'm talking about, it's a stuffed horse's head with reins, mounted on a stick that little kids and demented people like me can pretend to ride on.


Fucking A.

Never missing a chance to embarrass myself in public, I grabbed one of the stick horses and hopped into the saddle, clippety-clopping my way down the aisle behind Little Moon, passing a woman reading a book to her son. They pointed at me and laughed. That happens a lot. I'm used to it.


I galloped down the aisle like Don Fucking Quixote and I darted around the corner, where I pulled up behind Little Moon with a whinny and a neigh, but Little Moon just looked at me and rolled her eyes. Again. That eye rolling shit was starting to be downright fucking annoying, if I do say so myself and I fucking do. Say so myself, that is. Fine. So, I did what any other sane and rational adult would do and I doubled down on the fucking crazy. I galloped in circles around Little Moon, pantomiming like I was a world class rodeo rider, riding a demon bucking bronco. For a fleeting moment, I thought I saw the ghost of a smile cross Little Moon's face, but it may have just been wishful thinking. Instead, Little Moon gave me a withering look that said she thought I was more like a world class ass of a rodeo clown than the world class rodeo rider that I seemed to think I was. Whatever. Tomato, potato.


Don't ever go full potato.

"Do you always have to be soooo embarrassing?" Little Moon asked me.

Duh! Of course, I did. How could she even ask? I was hurt. Distraught. Wounded. I wept.

Are you fucking kidding me?  Pffft... Like I have fucking feelings or something. Nah, fuck that shit.

"Little Moon..." I began.

Run, Little Moon, run. Run as fast as your little legs will carry you and as far as you can, because you're about to get a little life lesson.

The poor kid had no clue what was coming. Heh.

Where were we? Oh, yeah.

"Little Moon," I began, "Always dance and sing like no one is watching and who cares if anyone is. Take joy where you find it. Laugh loud and strong. Never, ever, miss an opportunity to be silly and have fun. Never be ashamed of who you are and don't be embarrassed to be yourself. Besides, this is a fine steed, a true warhorse to carry a valiant knight such as myself into battle. I shall call him 'Soul Eater', after your mother."

What can I say? I'm a motivational motherfucker.

Little Moon's reaction to all of this was...

Crickets.

 It was so fucking quiet that I could literally hear Little Moon's eyes rolling around in her head.

Huh? WTF? I'd just given Little Moon an incredible and important life lesson, words of wisdom to last throughout the ages and she'd completely blown me off. Little Moon had completely dismissed what I'd said and instead she showed me the book that she'd picked out. It was the story of Argos, faithful dog of Odysseus.


Irony can be so fucking cruel.

I hate children. All children. Except mine. I love my children (pinky swear!) and I'm not just saying that because they read my stories. Okay, I am. saying that because they read my stories. Look, I don't want those little fuckers to grow up with some kind of complex, or something. Fuck, I already worry that the middle one is going to be some kind of serial killer or mad scientist that destroys the world, or some kind of shit like that. I'll bet he cackles maniacally when he reads that. Little fucker wants to create a zombie virus that will take a bite out of your ass. He's smart and demented enough to do it, too. You should be worried. I know I am.  Oh, and I like Little Moon too and I'm not just saying that because my girlfriend is a homicidal Ginger who reads my stories and always reminds me that if I cross her, she will kill me in my sleep and eat my soul. Nope, I say these things out of love. I just fucking love everyone. I'm a fucking people person. Really.

It all comes down to one thing, really. Some truths are universal. Kids are fucking assholes.

As you can imagine, I was crushed. Devastated. Nah, that's total bullshit. We've already established that I don't give a fuck.

"This is the book that I'd like," Little Moon told me.

"That's a great choice," I said. "It's from a very old and famous story called, 'The Odyssey'. Do you remember what I said about buying the first thing that you see, though? You might want to take a look around at something else, before you make your final decision."

Little Moon agreed and we decided to look in a different section. As we turned to go, in a voice as faint as a whisper, I heard Little Moon ask, "Can I try it?"

Holyfuckingshitballs, Batman!

I whipped Soul Eater around and I dismounted, handing the reins to Little Moon, who was in the saddle in no time at all. The kid was a natural. Now that I had been unhorsed, I used the magical power of imagination to conjure forth a new mount and Little Moon and I took off down the aisle, clippety-clopping to a full on sound effects soundtrack provided by yours truly.

Little Moon giggled.

As we approached the mother that was reading to her child, I warned Little Moon that we were about to pass people. That stopped her cold and she handed the stick horse back to me, unwilling to be embarrassed and ran ahead, so that she wouldn't have to be seen with me, either. Having no shame myself, I quickly climbed back on Soul Eater and continued my clippety-clopping on my way down the aisle.

As  I neared the end of the aisle, in full stride and just as loud and embarrassing as I could be, a salesperson and a group of four or five people came around the corner and almost ran into me. Thankfully, I pulled back on Soul Eater's reins quickly enough to avoid an unfortunate accident. The salesperson glared at me, as salespeople generally do and I never understand their enmity, but the other people gave me strange looks too, as if encountering a grown man riding a stick horse isn't something that you see every day. It was disconcerting. I really don't need that kind of negativity in my life.


Our close brush with death had spooked Soul Eater and I was more than a little embarrassed at being caught out at being an idiot. I thought back to the words that I had just spoken to Little Moon and wondered if that was what I truly believed, that you should never be embarrassed or feel ashamed to be yourself, or was that just so much bullshit? Fuck it. It took me about half a second to decide as I continued my ride down that dusty old trail, sound effects and all.

Little Moon ended up picking out a different book, surprising me, she compared prices and went with the less expensive option. I was pretty impressed. We were a little over budget, but that was cool. If a kid wants to read, you buy them a book. I put Soul Eater back into his stable and then Little Moon and I headed for the register to get checked out. I inquired about the totally cool, print your own book because you're not good enough to get a book published machine and was told that it was a piece of shit and had been tossed upon the great ash heap of history and no extra charge for the disappointment.

Fuck.

At least I still had fudge and ice cream to look forward to and to wash the taste of that disappointment out of my mouth and that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I think out of all the food groups, sugar and chocolate are my favorites. Healthy, too. They come from plants, so it's like a salad.

Unfortunately, life is a cunt.

Little Moon and I left Village Books and crossed the street to my car. After we were both buckled in, I checked the time on my phone. Our little jaunt had eaten up all of our allotted time and we wouldn't be able to get any fudge or ice cream.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck...

I really wanted to cry, now. The fudge had been all that I had wanted, the ice cream just an added bonus. I had earned that shit, fought for it, paid for it in fucking blood and now I wasn't going to get any? What kind of fucked up shit was that? It was completely unfuckingacceptable and I was going to get my damn fudge, come hell or high water.

I took Little Moon home, dropped her off, kissed the Ginger goodbye and I went to pick up Luke, informing him that we were headed to downtown Bellingham (as opposed to downtown Fairhaven, even though Fairhaven is part of Bellingham). Luke told me he didn't want any fudge, but I didn't really give a fuck what he, or anyone else wanted by this point, because all I wanted was that fucking fudge and I was sure as shit going to get it.

I drove downtown and was lucky enough to score a parking space directly in front of the store. That had to be a good omen, right?

Yeah, sure.


I could see the fudge piled high in the front window, calling to me like a Siren's song. I could practically taste that chocolatey goodness. I drifted closer, closer; the end of my quest in sight. I approached the front door and smashed my head against it like a ship against the rocks. Dazed, I stepped back and had to wait for the world to stop spinning before I was able to see the sign that read 'Closed Today'.

Fuck me. I just love the taste of disappointment.

The gods are cruel and the struggle is real.