THE BIG SALMON

Tuna1

This is one of those classic stories about a horse with alleged mob connections. We named him after the previous owner’s grandfather who went by The Big Salmon in his alleged, but you know, probably definite mob circles. I am obviously not disclosing the real fish alias because I have watched all of the Godfather films, even the kind of terrible one, and we had so many potentially detachable horse heads around. The horse’s official name was The Bewitched Sultan, given to him by his previous owners; let’s just call them the Digiornos because I’ve seen Goodfellas and don’t like bats or trunks or vises or misunderstandings with Joe Pesci.

A few months after acquiring The Big Salmon, my mother informed my siblings and I that the Digiornos were planning a visit to our stable to see him. I intuitively gathered that Mom was not so comfortable with this by her nervous laughter, two beads of forehead sweat and her blurting out, “They’re going to kill us all if we call the horse Salmon or if they see Salmon written anywhere. They eat disrespectful people like us for breakfast and then, later, they have a sensible dinner. They’ll probably start with the slowest. Anne, you should ditch the tiger suit.” Luckily, Salmon was only written every single blanket, bridle, saddle and stall door that had any thing to do with the horse. I think one of us had a tee-shirt.

We had one day to erase every piece of evidence that could potentially get us “disappeared” after being beaten by a shovel, most likely, and a long ride in a trunk, again, I’ve seen Goodfellas.  Each of us, black Sharpie in hand, hunted around for all traces of Salmon. At the time, I thought it was kind of fun, not really considering a name clearly being scratched out and replaced with another was not the most subtle of clues that something was being hidden. For that matter, if you even leaned in a little you could still make out the name. “Salmon”, under the new, old name, “Bewitched”, which would be worse because one could not even say, “Oh, I thought it would an honor to name the horse after your murderous, gangster grandfather.” It would point directly to you being a disrespectful and now terrified funny guy and the Digiornos don’t like funny guys.

Our mission to cover up all Salmons was a success and the the entire stable smelled like Sharpie and my left hand was black. I’m left-handed. The next crucial step was to drill the name Salmon out of our tiny minds, never to be spoken aloud in the alleged Mob member’s scary family’s presence, or else. Mom went over it and over it with us, “His name is Bewitched. Only say Bewitched. Never say Salmon. Remember, they’ll murder us all. Anne, please take of the tiger suit.”

The dreaded Wise Guy themed visit day had arrived. We all greeted the Digiornos and began showing them around the farm and stables now housing their beloved formerly known as Salmon, formally known as Bewitched, presently known as Bewitched again. Things were going pretty well and the Digiornos were so nice and friendly, I practically forgot they were going to murderous like insignificant, pathetic, little flies. This ignorant bliss, however, came to an abrupt end as we approached Salmon, wearing his blanket with the large Sharpie blob and a shakily scratched, “Beweecheded” above it. I instantly realized this was my handy work. I’m also terrible at math. I looked down at the faded, black smudges still visible on my left hand, like blood pointing to the killer. I thought I had sealed my fate and the end was nigh for me and my tiger suit until, within seconds of approaching Beweecheded, my mother blurted out, “And here is The Big Salmon.” Nothing happened, but I peed a little, so that was the end of the tiger suit.

 

 

 

I’M UNCOMFORTABLE RIGHT NOW/ESTRANGED CLONE REUNION

thebook

DOUBLE BOOK! One half Anne, the other half Chad. ANNE: If you are like me, you have written numerous stories about divorce, accidental shootings, on-purpose suicides, milk punch, floors, bad decisions, bunnies, hosting tips, sort of lesbian stuff, living vicariously through stuffed gorillas called Anna, naked dances in horse stalls, fun anxiety attacks, make­up tips, more divorce, bedspreads, regrets, using extremely hot burritos to woo the ladies, and generally being uncomfortable. If you are not like me, but have been meaning to learn more about all of these important issues, while simultaneously feeling considerably better about your own life choices, look no further than this collection of true tales. Let’s feel uncomfortable together. I’ll start: I love you.

CHAD: “Somewhere between Teletubbies and suicide, there must be truth.”
 Get your very own copy to read or not read here!

I’m Uncomfortable Right Now

A PERIOD PIECE

pp

If reading stories about menstruation bothers you, at least I’m not putting a bunch of yarn in my vagina to soak up some period blood and knitting a sweater with it for an art show, so cheer up. That being said, I promise that the previous sentence is the grossest part of this story. As a young girl, the thought of getting my first period was horrifying; I found the whole notion of it very embarrassing and a tremendous amount of blood was going to pour out of my vagina every month. The only thing I found worse than getting my period was talking about it with any other humans and being forced to eat Candy Corns while spiders watched.

I have always been a very private person. My mother told me that I potty-trained myself and I assume it was just to establish some semblance of dignity as a giant baby with a penchant for sticking various ample body parts through tight spaces, requiring inevitable rescues. I am still potty-trained for similar reasons. I think I was around ten or eleven when my friend and I busted into her mom’s stash of maxi pads to investigate the situation only to discover things are even more terrible if the sticky tape side is applied incorrectly. As I have never been a fan of diapers nor humiliating application errors, I knew when my time arrived, I wanted no part of those boats.

My time did not seem to be arriving. At first, I was relieved because I was given this extra gift of not getting that visit from Aunt Flo, no riding that crimson wave or cotton pony, T.O.M. was not in town, Mr. T. wasn’t here and bloody bits of uterus lining was not expelling from my vagina. The relief, however, started to dissipate rapidly when my friends at school all started to get theirs. I was not worried that there was something wrong with me, I just hated all that period flab-gabbing all of the time: “Hey, do you have a tampon? I need it because I’m a woman and stuff like that so I have a period. My cramps are so bad today, you know, because I have my period. I just hate being on my period. Did I ask you for a tampon already because I have my period? I get it every single month, my period.” I started carrying around gratuitous tampons, specifically to lob at them and yell and hope that they would stop saying words to me.

School was bad, but home was worse and I couldn’t just scream and throw feminine hygiene products around to make it stop. It started mildly; my mother would casually inquire about the vagina updates without being too blatant: “Start anything new yet that you might want to talk about?” I played dumb: “I was a cheerleader for sixteen days and developed a new eye twitch.” My mother seemed to be convinced that I would not tell her when the horribleness arrived and, somehow, her distrust and suspicion manifested into her intensely staring at me every time a tampon or pad commercial came on for about three years.

When I turned sixteen and still nothing, I got a little concerned, but at least now I could drive myself to get the throwing tampons. Mom mentioned a possible doctor visit and that sounded like a nightmare to me. I started to get very nervous, but held out hope that perhaps I could harness that energy and panic myself into becoming a woman. It didn’t work, but I did successfully increase the intensity and frequency of my eye twitch. I managed to persuade my mom to put off the doctor thing until I returned from a trip I had coming up to visit my father in Colorado, where I could relax a little with no talks of blood sports, other than hunting and assorted Renaissance Festival activities for meats.

I got off the plane, said hello to my father, and immediately started my period. I decided to keep this not ideal circumstance quiet and handle it myself after recalling an incident one year prior involving my sister, Jane. She informed Dad that she wished to go home because she was not feeling well and regretfully explained the nature of her discomfort to him. We were all at the aforementioned, very crowded meat activities festival where my father dealt with this information with a fun and uncharacteristically thunderous announcement: “Everyone, we need to go home because Janey has the cramps really bad!” I did, however, call my mom and tell her so she would quit staring at me and I could relax while watching all the women skip through fields and hand each other flowers.

 

 

 

A CUTE BETRAYAL

annecuteashamed

Grade school is a dangerous world; a world of take no prisoners, every man for himself, dog eat dog, eye for an eye, milk for some tater tots, and never let them see you sweat or your underpants. I’m not proud of everything I did back then, but it was solely for survival purposes and not to be called a germ or Annie-Fanny. I did what I had to do and it wasn’t always pretty.

It was the fifth grade and we had new blood in our class, a boy called Ned. Now, to some, this would not be a big deal, but for me, it was a new beginning. I had been going to school with the same small group of kids since kindergarten, so anyone new to join the herd looked like a smoking-hot, delicious turkey on Thanksgiving Day. There was also the added benefit of said new turkey not knowing anything about me, a bed-wetting, shy, stuffed gorilla enthusiast with a penchant for wild unpopularity and long silences. This was a new start and a chance to really shine and refrain from doing my finely-crafted rendition of “All Out Of Love” during recess behind a tree again.

I could not believe my fortune; not only did Ned think I was a normal person, he even seemed to fancy me. He approached me one day during recess and asked if I would “go with him”, which meant “go steady”, which meant “be his main squeeze”, which meant “something about fruit and pressure and making out.” The point is, it was good, so I did my signature move when being propositioned by a gentleman; I ran away and quickly joined a serious game of hopscotch already in progress. It turns out, this was not the best way to accept a suitor’s advances; Ned seemed to think that my sprinting off and playing hopping games with rocks meant no. I was simply caught off guard and frightened; no one had ever asked me to go with them before. I could only assume there was something wrong with Ned and I needed more time to observe him, so I silently watched him for four days and fell madly in love. He had qualities that I deeply admired; he could eat his entire lunch in under thirty-two seconds and he liked me.

Until he didn’t; the liking me part, he could still eat lunch really fast. It seemed to happen suddenly, as if five years of my unpopular, strange, loner, no sudden moves history was reported to him in five minutes and he wanted no part of it or me. By the time my past caught up with him, it was too late for me to move on. I was still smitten and needed to somehow profess my love in the hopes of changing his mind and seeing the me he once like-liked that one Tuesday before lunch. I did what any heart-broken ten-year-old would do, I crafted a beautiful, hand-written note describing my innermost thoughts and devotion to him: “I think you are really cut.” I signed it, “Hint: A,” and left it in his desk after school. I skipped home, reveling in my brilliance, ate dinner with a smile on my face, gleefully did some homework and joyously went to bed.  An hour later, I woke up in a cold sweat and yelled, “I FORGOT THE E!!!!!! I AM RUINED.” I tried to rationalize the situation and talk myself down from a panic level not seen since the time my mother threatened to jump off the double ferris wheel and we had to eat potato salad. “He won’t even notice, I thought; when you’re in love, you can’t be bothered by meaningless details like silent vowels. I mean, I didn’t even sign my name, just an A, and there are like two other girls with names starting with A. It will be fine.”

It was not fine. By the time I got to my classroom, Ned was already waving the note around and politely inquiring about its origins and profound meaning: “Hahahahahahah, cut! You can’t even spell cute! Which loser girl with an A name wrote this?” I immediately surveyed the situation; there were three girls, including me, with names starting with A, but one of the girls was out sick today. This was my way out; I would deny writing the note and the other present A would too. The sick A would be blamed and I would live to sing behind a tree like an idiot during recess again. This seemed like the perfect solution, but there was a problem. The absent A was Alice and she was my best friend; she was also even less popular than me and had more than enough on her plate of hell that is grade school. Ned continued to address the room, “Which one of you jerks wrote this?” I had a choice to make that day and I chose my survival and said nothing; he blamed Alice who was not there to fight for hers. I am not proud of what I did that day and still consider it to be my single worst act of cowardice to date, except for the time I swung my arms furiously in the air windmill-style because a June bug landed in my hair.

 

grade4

 

HEADLIGHTS AND HUMILIATION

HANDH2

“Don’t worry, if the headlights go out again, all you have to do is kick at them until they come back on.”

“What a relief; I thought I was going to have to do something that would make me look like an idiot.”

That was a fine solution until one of the headlights wasn’t sufficiently kicked in and popped off in the middle of the street; it was promptly retrieved and thrown into the back of the trunk like a dead body or a pair of gym shoes. This happened last week, but I’ve had a long, strange history of car humiliation. My very first car was a 1987 Jetta and I loved it, despite the fact that it was constantly dicking me over. The windshield wipers flipped off to one side of the car, rendering themselves useless for rain, but kind of nice as an art piece; the driver-side window would not stay up without the assistance of the large, rubber spatula that I had deemed as the only reasonable way to repair it; the horn would turn on and stick, but only when I was sneaking out at two in the morning or toilet papering Neal’s car and cat, so it was fine.

Regardless of the many Jetta embarrassments and sabotages against my social life, it was still better than before when I had no car of my own to impede my coolness and I was forced to find a ride to my awful choices and terrible decisions. I was fourteen and full of zest (in my head; outwardly, I was quiet and very still). My friend, Amber, was also full of zest (the visible, verbal kind) and had a hardcore crush on a senior guy whom she barely knew, but was soon presented with an opportunity to correct that. His parents were out of town and he was having some people over. Amber was good friends with a senior girl who happened to be invited; this was her way in and mine too because she did not want to be the only freshman girl there and I was a real ball of laughs when I decided to speak and if you could hear me. Amber was generally the only one who heard my under the breath, amusing comments and observations at the lunch table, but she took it upon herself to shout them out to the rest of our lunch companions as they looked on in confusion.”I’m ahead of my time and no one gets me” is what I often said quietly when the joke fell flat. I still say that when necessary, which is surprisingly often.

HANDH

FOURTEEN AND FULL OF ZEST

I was informed that we would have a ride to the party, courtesy of the befriended senior girl, but not one home again. Amber said, “No problem”, but I could think of a few. However, I was at that age where problems never stopped me from doing something I had to do, unless they were math ones. We were also told to bring a swimsuit because there would be a hot tub at the house. Despite Amber’s rather open lust for the senior guy/party host, she was fairly modest and not too keen on the presumed bathing suit portion of the evening; she compromised by bringing a one-piece suit. I too was fairly modest, but also incredibly needy and suffering from daddy issues and desperately wanted men to look at me and think I was pretty, like a normal person. I brought a strapless bikini and we were off to the shindig! I had already been to zero high school parties and I had watched Sixteen Candles eight times, so I knew exactly what to expect; pizza, beer, fur coats, underpants, haircuts, dancing, crying and exercise bikes. Imagine my surprise when I was only right about the haircuts.

We did our best in this unfamiliar social situation to blend in and I began consuming copious amounts of Jell-O shots, gin and Sprite, just to relax. I was pretty relaxed and thought that the loud, sobbing girl’s hot tub suggestion was a swell idea. Amber and I changed into our modest and huge mistake swimming attire and joined two of our fellow party-goers and the host of the evening in the tub. Things were going great; we were laughing and talking and having a nice soak. The senior guy/host even struck up a conversation with me, “Hey”, and then he reached across the tub and yanked my strapless bikini top down and continued our polite banter, “Man, those are white! Nice headlights.” Luckily, I was no stranger to Emily Post’s Etiquette and knew exactly what to do. I said, “Thanks, I work out”, pulled my top up, ran into the bathroom, sat on the floor for twenty minutes and then tried unsuccessfully to escape out of the window. Amber was able to convince me to get dressed and leave through the more conventional exit, the front door, where there was a cab waiting for us. I sat in silence the whole ride home until Amber asked me if I had any money for the fare; we were short by a couple of bucks. The booze and I briefly considered showing him my boobs because I was used to that now, but Amber changed my mind by waving her arms and furiously shaking her head no. The cab driver was angry, but took pity on us and let our lack of funds and flashing slide with one minor punishment; he laid on the horn as he drove away from my house at two in the morning.

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