Friday, February 24, 2012

The Greatest Show On Earth

Mardi Gras is undoubtedly one of the biggest celebrations of the year.  It’s right up there with Carnival in Rio, New Year’s Eve in Times Square, the season finale of 24, etc.

Having lived in the French Quarter for years, I had a front row seat to the eccentric traditions and debauchery which accompany this grand celebration…

Translation: Several people had sex, puked and urinated on my front porch**

**Note: I need to find new friends

The history of Mardi Gras began long before Europeans set foot in the New World. 

In mid-February the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival, not entirely unlike the Mardi Gras we're familiar with today.   Only the ancient Romans were a bit more stringent with law enforcement in that they summarily crucified people for urinating on a street corner, flashing private parts or claiming to be the son of God.

Mardi Gras, in its early incarnation, was a time for the Romans to take a break from doing civic project, such as destroying other countries and  inventing an impossible language which is only used by pharmacists, doctor's and lawyers today.  

I believe at the end of the festival they also usually tossed a low income village idiot or two into the arena for the lions to maul.

When Rome embraced Christianity, the early Church fathers decided it better to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith…such as pure grain alcohol served in a to-go cup, unimaginable heaping piles of trash, boobs and colorful beads along with tourists from Idaho doing things in the middle of a public street that they likely wouldn't do at a gang-bang.**

Note: Please see Porn (keyword: Mardi Gras)

Controlled chaos indeed.

Mardi Gras came to America in 1699, along with CNN’s Larry King.  The event had been celebrated in Paris since the Middle Ages until Walt Disney bought the rights and turned it into a family oriented event.  This is why the French hate Americans to this day.

I eventually traded in the hustle and bustle of French Quarter life, opting for a more peaceful neighborhood located about three quarters of a mile away…which means that I may now sit comfortably on my front porch cursing myself for moving to a neighborhood where the bars actually have a closing time.

Having experienced several Mardi Gras festivities over the years, I decided to “opt out” for this particular season and enjoy it from home.  That is until my neighbor, Glen, found himself strapped with babysitting duties for a single mother of two children, ages 11 and 5..

I realize that babysitting and a street celebration consisting of 1.5 million  half-naked, drunk people don’t seem to belong in the same sentence but enlisting my assistance and babysitting ALSO do not belong in the same sentence.  Ask any number of my female friends to confirm this fact.

I sat on my front porch on a balmy Mardi Gras morning trying to enjoy a cup of coffee (pronounced: vodka and orange juice) as Glen badgered me non stop to the point that I began to cry...and bleed from the ears.  

It was reminiscent of that scene from "Return of the Jedi" when Luke relentlessly pounded Darth Vader with his light saber. 

So I, reluctantly, agreed to co-babysit at a celebration which I’d hoped to skip. 

If I were the mother of these two children, upon learning of this field trip, I would have immediately called the police.

Since it was 10:00am, I did the responsible thing one does to prepare for a long day in the middle of chaos-- I took a 30 minute nap in order to sober up a bit before heading out. 

Our rocky start should have rang as an omen as Glen and I couldn't figure out how to open the stroller.  After each of us downed a shot of Irish whiskey we executed a second attempt as the kids stared at us in the same fashion as that of an Alcoholic's Anonymous sponsor.

Finally, sweet victory was OURS!  By that, I mean that the 11 year-old opened the stroller for us.

Glen and I stared in awe at this quite expensive and elaborate contraption, happily realizing that this stroller represented the fact that we didn't have to lug a 5 year-old around the city.  As an added came equipped with an abundance of spacious storage compartments!

We shoved every ounce of alcohol that we could find into the compartments, leaving just enough room for the kid and headed out for an adventure to the biggest party on the planet. 

We made it to the streetcar stop when something vaguely important crossed Glen's mind…and so, I walked six blocks back to the porch to retrieve the children.

Upon my return, Glen lifted the 5 year-old from the stroller as I tried to figure out how to fold it.  This literally caused us to miss the first three streetcars and resulted in me smoking four cigarettes. 

Finally, as the 5 year old sat on the bench grabbing an attractive young woman’s left breast, the 11 year-old dismantled the stroller for me as I stood there wishing that I were a 5 year-old again.  HOW do they get away with grabbing a random breast when I CAN NOT???

Upon boarding the streetcar I noticed that, in the stroller folding operation, a vodka bottle in one of the storage compartments had apparently broken.

Glen, the kids and I strode down the aisle of our crowded streetcar, unaware that a stream of vodka leaked from the stroller all the way down our path.  I'm certain that we looked like some sort of alcoholic Hansel and Gretel.  

Our fellow passengers shot looks of disgust and were likely trying to find the number for Child Protective Services on their I-Phones.

Glenn is an openly gay man.  I only share that piece of information as it occurred to me from some of the glares that we received on the streetcar that we likely appeared as though we were a same sex (drunk) couple who had adopted kids.  

I shared this suspicion with Glen and we agreed to do the mature thing...We had fun with it, at the expense of two tourists (a middle aged husband and wife) from Alabama.

(Insert Forrest Gump accent here)

Husband: Those your kids?

Me: (in a flamboyant vocal delivery) Oh no!  I want kids but Glen doesn't...isn't that RIGHT Glen? 

Glen: There she goes again!  Why do you ALWAYS have to be a bitch??  First you blame ME for the fact that you lost your job at Rooms To Go, then I’m the cause for your father disowning you and now it’s KIDS!  Don’t even start with me girl!

Me: He’s a little edgy today; he'll be fine after a Xanax.  We couldn't adopt kids anyway because Glen can’t even wake up on time for his anger management sessions much less an appointment with an adoption agency.  We’re just babysitting.  Would you two care for a shot of whiskey by the way?

Wife: (nervously laughing) uh, where are the parents?

Glen: The father ran off with a girl who worked at a place in Tennessee called Toot’s.  It used to be called Tooter’s but Hooter’s sued them because, like Hooter's, the girls wore skimpy shirts and orange shorts and also served shitty wings…They lost the lawsuit so now it’s a topless restaurant.  I heard the wings are better than they used to be though.

Me: Eeeeew!  Boobies gross me out!!

Glen: I KNOW...right???  Whew!  Who else needs a Xanax??

Husband: (now growing visibly concerned) Where, um, exactly does the mother live?

This is a moment that I dream about every single time I venture out into the world; spewing juvenile, uncomfortable mischief.  I gave them Mike's (my editor) address.  

Mike has a spastic colon and I've advised him on numerous occasions that he desperately needs to enlist the services of a hooker in order to calm his nerves.  I feel strongly that this will better free his mind, thus curbing his incessant acts of evil-doing toward me when I submit a writing draft. 

We arrived downtown where we would begin our trek to the Mardi Gras parade route; quickly ducking the Alabama couple before they could hail a police officer. 

By the way, Mardi Gras is a time where I feel perfectly comfortable enjoying a parade without having my sexual orientation questioned by the guys.  That is, until Glen smacked me on the ass in front of a group of senior citizens while I held the 5 year-old.**

**Note: The 11 year-old was dripping with spilled vodka as he unfolded the stroller.  Plus, when Glen smacked my ass, I accidentally spilled a full cocktail all over both children.  The senior citizens grew much edgier at this point.

As an important travel tip, taking the streetcar is quite convenient during Mardi Gras.  They only cost $1.25 and drop you off, conveniently, in the middle of a median filled with 8-thousand people per cubic foot...9 blocks from where you actually need to be.  But, at least you're in the middle of a crowd which consists of 20 or 30 heavily armed, drunk citizens...just in case anything bad goes down.

We inched our way to a position where we would secure our prime parade viewing spot when the 5 year-old began whimpering that he was hungry while the 11 year-old announced that he had to pee.  

This is the point where I saw some fat old lady flash her breasts for beads and it caused me to laugh so hard that I spewed my shot of whiskey all over the 11 year-old

On a positive note, the 5 year-old already peed his pants so I didn't have to take him to the port-a-potty.

Glen volunteered to take the eldest to the portable toilet while I took the youngest to get something to eat. In the interest of safety, we agreed to meet back at a designated area.  (I suggested Des Moines, Iowa)

I purchased the youngest child one of my favorite mid-afternoon snacks...a can of Mountain Dew a Three Musketeer's bar and a bag of Cheetos.

We all rendezvoused back at our designated spot where Glen informed me that the kid was not allowed to have ANY sugar or foods with preservatives or saturated fat.  WHAT??? 

When did kids become so delicate?  What difference does it make what this kid eats?  

As Glen and I discussed the dietary requirements of a 5 year-old, the eldest kid stood under a balcony which was filled with party goers when a giant bucket of an electric blue liquor substance tumbled over the edge.  

And now we had an 11 year-old who looked like part of the "Blue Man Group."

My attention diverted as I noticed that the 5 year-old, on a sugar and carbohydrate high, was strangling another young child against the parade street barrier...I suppose this explains the importance of a regimented dietary intake.  

Adding more stress to this chaotic scene, a local television crew transmitted a live shot as part of their non-stop Mardi Gras coverage which I believe begins in November.  

There we were on live television; Glen looked as though he'd seen a ghost, blankly staring at the TV camera, standing next to an alcohol drenched 11 year-old Smurf, a 5 year-old acting as though he were a cracked-out monkey and me...groping an attractive young woman's left breast. 

Glen's phone rang immediately...the mother of the children happened to be viewing the live news coverage and, needless to say, this phone call didn't seem to go very well for Glen. 

He calmly motioned for me by flailing his arms like a shipwreck victim, begging for my assistance to explain the situation in order to calm the mother's nerves.  

After the phone call Glen solemnly announced that it was time to head back home.  

It was a quiet ride on the street car.  I couldn't help but to feel sad for Glen as I watched him sitting in tortured silence.  He hopelessly worried what terrible fate awaited upon his returning the kids.  

As we walked from the streetcar stop toward home, I genuinely felt bad for Glen and assured him that the mother would be understanding if he simply explained that what she saw on TV wasn't as bad as it appeared-- sort of like the Fox News Channel.  

I also suggested that we toss the kids in the shower before delivering them to their mother.  

We paused on the sidewalk for a moment, pouring two shots, when Glen gave me a sincere hug for calming his nerves before he had to face an uncertain fate that awaited.

It was a nice moment where the spirit of true friendship is defined.  

As we downed our shots on that quiet little sidewalk something quite important crossed Glen's mind.  And so...I walked six blocks back to the streetcar stop to get the kids.

Me with some random drunk guy.  Actually there are TWO drunk guys in this picture...I'm the one on the right

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love Is In The Air...Who Farted?

Admittedly, I’m absolutely terrible at writing in the style of sexy, mushy, dirty or even the classic “love note.”

One time, I dipped my pen into the well of writing children's short stories which, as I recall, was referred to as "sociopathic" by a prospective publishing house.

I shyly glossed over love scenes in a book that I wrote a few years ago  by simply writing in a manner which plunged head first, getting directly to the point.  On a side note, this style pretty much sums up my sex life when I was in my mid 20's.

No wonder I never got too many second dates. 

I feel that a succinct, yet clever, literary style makes me a time efficient writer.  My editor, on the other hand, describes it as juvenile.

For the record, my editor, Mike, describes himself as unlucky in the dating world.  He attributes this to his being misunderstood.  I attribute it to the fact that he still watches VHS tapes and wears khaki pants.  The highlight of his day is watching Jeopardy and eating Totino's Pizza Rolls.  But, he IS an above average speller.**

**Note: Making him a ripe dating candidate for an 80-year old woman

Actually, I liken Mike's lady friend skills to that of the sh**ty tasting chocolate candy piece in those Russel Stover heart shaped boxes.  You know the one...the lone morsel that people bite into and immediately spit out, frantically grasping for anything within arm's length (water, beer, mouthwash, gasoline) to erase the putrid and unexpected aftertaste in one's mouth.

Russel Stover even includes a diagram of the candy landscape in those boxes these days.  You know why?  So no one accidentally puts that piece of doo doo in their mouth!  Why not just do away with the actual piece of candy?  

I suppose this is also why I'm not a Russel Stover executive...or, for that matter, gainfully employed. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable and confident in the sex department...ESPECIALLY when I know that I’m not going to see the woman EVER again.  I simply don’t like to chronicle every detail of a love scene; I'm just not comfortable with writing it.  

By the way, I recently read one such dirty submission from my friend Todd...WHAT IS a love button anyway????

Here's how I write love scenes:

“Marie and Chris locked eyes; he gently kissed her cheek, moving slowly to her soft lips. Her beautiful, porcelain face stared back to him as she lay, poised on all fours, in the middle of the area rug; her face was illuminated in the romantic glow of a paused Wii bowling video game.**

**Chris was dangerously close to beating his room mate's high score

They writhed beneath the sheets on a bed littered with empty beer cans, dog hair, dirty clothes and Nacho Cheese Dorito's crumbs.  

It was at this very moment, a moment of sexual tension which had been building for about 2 and a half minutes, that Marie wondered if she'd remembered to turn off the stove at her apartment as Chris fumbled with her bra.   

Finally, their romantic encounter reached fever pitch.   

(Insert R. Kelly music here)

Afterward, Chris resumed the Wii bowling game, assuring Marie that she probably turned off the stove.  

His mind drifted to a distant place...wondering if there was leftover pizza in the fridge as Marie lay in bed, full of deep and dark regret, wondering why she did that 4th shot of whiskey earlier in the evening rather than go home and utilize a sex toy.”

I dated a woman who loved the “dirty” cell phone text chats. From time to time I’d receive a random text beckoning:

“Tell me something dirty.”

Me: Hmmm…something dirty?

Girl: YES…something dirty!

Me: I want to f**k you.

Girl: Uh, you’re a WRITER…I meant write something sexy and suggestively dirty, using your writing skills.

Me: The driving rain casts a hypnotic tympani on the roof as I lay in this bed tonight.  Nature’s spectacular show is punctuated by  brief streaks of lightening across the  midnight sky, illuminating your beautiful face in a soft electric blue glow. Thunder fills the air with a commanding, yet mysterious, percussive rattle on the window panes…reminding me that I really want to f**k you...right now.

Girl: Uh...Never mind. I’ll be over in a few minutes.

Me: Can we have sex???

I was quite flattered recently when my friend, Ed, asked if I might craft a Valentine’s Day love note to his wife.

Ed is a confident and handsome man and his wife, Amanda, is strikingly beautiful, talented and sweet.  Ed knows how he feels about Amanda, he's just not confident in expressing romantic words on paper to her.

I’ve never thought about “staffing out” the act of writing a love note. I usually just don’t write them in MY personal relationships for fear of getting into trouble. I fully know the sweet nothings that I WANT to convey, they just end up coming out all wrong on paper.


I enjoyed last night...WHO KNEW that the Muppet Movie could spur an evening of crazy animal sex??  I haven’t had a wild night like that since I was with my ex.

By the way, can I grab that $10-Dollars later today for your half of the Miller Lite case?  Or we can just apply the balance for you purchasing dinner at Taco Bell.  In which case, you only owe me $2-dollars.

Oh, I’m sorry that my neighbor, Craig, drunkenly stumbled into the bedroom last night…he gets real weird after drinking shots.   Now that I think about it, he's weird when he's sober.  I don’t think he saw anything because, if he DID, he would have snapped cell pics and posted them on the Internet don’t worry.

Anyway, I want you to know that I have a lot more fun with you than pretty much anyone and I hope that you’re having a great day.  By the way, I’m sorry for hurting the kitty.  

 By kitty, I’m not using a euphemism like lots of writers do, I mean the actual kitty…I didn’t see her laying on the bed.  I also hope the other kitty is ok too!  LOL!   

Anywhoo…I look forward to seeing you after work...ALL of you!  Haha! xoxoxoxo

I don’t send Valentine’s flowers either.  I’m fortunate in that I:

a) Send flowers for no particular reason on any of the other 364 days in the year because I love my lady and/or there’s been a death in her family

b) Send flowers because I probably said or did something stupid (I’m told that I do this often.)  Flowers usually pave the way in this situation so that a truce might be declared, leading to incredibly primal make-up sex

c) Usually date women who love football and baseball and also don’t want flowers on Valentine’s Day*

**Note: Typically, these are women who can beat me up…which is sexy in an erotic, odd sort of way

The all-powerful floral industry executives must sit back and laugh all the way to the bank on Valentine’s Day as they rake in billions of dollars from men who fork out exorbitant amounts of money.  

They fork over the money so as not to have their lady witness delivery upon delivery to ALL of the other girls in the office.  All the while, their lady stares blankly as though she resides in a trailer park in Jackson Mississippi and just received the crushing news that she's been rejected by the judges of American Idol.

The floral marketplace is SO overwhelmed at Valentine's Day that these flowers look like a wilted, weathered, faded, exhausted heap…sort of like Steven Tyler.

By the way ladies, I don’t care what your man tells you…he DOES NOT want to receive flowers or balloons on Valentine’s Day…period. Your man wants to have SEX on Valentine’s Day.  If pizza or Mexican food is involved...even better!

I was the recipient of flowers in the office place one time and the memory still painfully resonates vividly in my mind, over and over again like a bad dream.

I remember receiving the intercom page from the front desk. The page echoed through the radio station as though it were coming directly from God...or Darth Vader.

I ventured downstairs to find a bouquet of assorted, pastel colored flowers resting on the counter. There were frilly little multi-colored ribbons at the base of the arrangement, taunting me, as if to be questioning my sexuality.  

A couple of my male co-workers snickered, trying to mask full blown laughter.  They then asked if I needed a feminine napkin to go with my pretty flowers. 

The receptionist handed the flowers to me and I snatched them from her as if to be disarming an armed bank robber.

Incidentally, she also asked if I needed a feminine napkin as the entire lobby finally erupted with laughter.  As an important note, I hate every single one of these people.

As my ardent readers know, I have long had a beef with Hallmark and American Greetings because I feel strongly that there’s a useful place for my talents in the greeting card industry…even though I do not send Valentine’s Day cards, I feel strongly that I can effectively WRITE them.   

They don’t seem to share my vision, as evidenced by numerous rejection notices. 

Those sappy holiday cards are terrible!  For instance, if I received the following from my lady friend on Valentine’s Day, or any other day, I would likely break up with her, burn the card, light myself on fire with the burning card and jump through a window.

“Sweetheart, I don’t want to go to sleep at night because real life with you is better than a dream.”

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

With that said, here’s my foray into the “love letter” writing assignment on behalf of my friend Ed to his wife.  I’ve known them both for a long time; therefore Ed figured I would be able to craft a perfectly fitting letter to her…

My dearest Amanda,

I’m so glad that you’re a part of my life.  Even though I didn’t really have a choice because we found out that you were pregnant three months into our relationship, I’m glad that I did the right thing and, after these past 2 years, I finally am convinced that you are truly the woman for me.

I love the way you look at me with your bright blue eyes and the way you touch me.  I equally love your extremely large breasts and the way THEY touch me.  I also love the fact that you make some of the best meatloaf in the world. 

You are truly a loving, caring and absolutely beautiful woman.  When I look at you, I’m reminded as to why I’m not interested in having sex with men.

Love always,


While I was very proud of how accurately I captured the essence of Ed’s love for Amanda, Ed didn’t think too highly of my Valentine’s Day missive so he decided to purchase a card.   

Damn!  I’ve been beaten by Hallmark AGAIN!

I suppose I don't know the first thing about writing a love note after all.  But, I decided to give it a stab this Valentine's day for someone special.  

This is a writing exercise that my editor, my mother, my friends and any number of my college professors would have referred to as a "recipe for disaster." 

 My dearest sweetheart,

I'm fully aware that I would, of course, NEVER speak that way in real life but I figured it to be inappropriate to begin a Valentine's Day love note with "Dear sexy ass ghetto booty."

The primary reason that I opted to craft a personal love note this year revolves around my refusal to purchase a $4-dollar card which was written by a cheesy writer working for a company that continually dispatches rejection letters upon receiving my writing demo packages.

Actually, I usually throw cards away after I read them anyway; or when a woman breaks up with me...whichever comes first.

On that front, I deeply hope that breaking up with me is not in your immediate plans as I'm quite thrilled that you like to watch football and do not force me to cuddle after sex.  I also love that thing you do when you bend your upper torso downward from the side of the bed.

What I want to tell you can't be fully conveyed on paper because there are, in fact, so many things that I love about you and our time together.

In addition to your spectacular eggplant Parmesan recipe, I love the way you touch my face when I'm feeling down, the feeling that I get when I wake up in the middle of the night and find that you're holding onto me.  I love the fact that I can feel your presence in a crowded room and how people react to your beautiful smile, laugh and independent personality...myself included.

I love the fact that you're not afraid to take a long road trip with me, even though (according to a CNN special report that I recently read) I'm in the primary demographic and socioeconomic profile as that of a serial killer.

By the way, if it makes you feel comfortable, I would never chop you up and bury you under a heap of lyme and sod in a vacant field located miles from a state highway near a rural town in Arkansas.

In all seriousness, I love how you challenge me in little ways to be a better person.  I love that you still kiss me like it's the very first time.  I feel a sense of complete trust, knowing that you're comfortable with opening up to me about anything.  And I count myself fortunate in that you forgive me when I act like a complete idiot...I don't tell you that as much as I should.

Oh, and I also love that you don't judge me after I've done 9 shots of Irish whiskey and think it to be a good idea to sing karaoke.  (By the way, thanks for the sober ride home last Thursday.  And, I'm sorry for going to the bathroom on your side porch.  I hope your room mate isn't still mad at me.)

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that, I love you...



Since I've officially given up on Hallmark, I'm gonna send some writing samples to that candy company that sells those little hearts which have the consistency of blackboard chalk, with a slight minty taste.  Here's my first draft:

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2012

Author's Note:  This piece is dedicated to a special lady who probably loves me more than I deserve at times.  And, I'm eternally thankful.  Xoxo xxx