The Nancy Papers

 

"Nancy", her so-called husband Banana Nostrils (married on a beach by an actor amongst a pack of leaping dogs), and their brood of l'il translucent vegans are semi-regular visitors to the Surf Report Compound.  In addition to being lefty/ hippie/ wackos, they're also scattered and unfocused, and seemingly unconcerned with the irritation levels of those around them.  Oh, and did I mention they're both college professors?  Was it even necessary?  Here's a chronicle of a couple of their latest visits, and I'll be adding accounts of earlier invasions, as time permits.

January 17, 2003

-- How much would it cost to have LoJack installed in my underwear? How big is the transmitter box, and does it get hot during use? There's no antennae involved is there? How about the effects of radio waves being pumped directly into a set of male genitals? I need to find out these things because I'm still a little shaken by recent events. It's a difficult thing to come to terms with, underwear theft. It's something that now colors every facet of my life. Sleep is being lost. I'm not usually a proponent of such things, but I really wish a support group were available to me. It would be nice to get together once or twice a month with other men and talk about how we're coping, following the loss of our most intimate apparel. And I'd really love to track my current undergarments with satellite positioning technology. Is that taking things too far? I'd like to have a radar screen right here in the bunker where I could monitor each and every pair at all times. The ping, ping, ping would bring me comfort, just like the lost shorts themselves -- before they were so viciously ripped from their natural habitat by a perverted large-nostriled underwear poacher. It would be a tribute to their service. If anyone knows about the feasibility of such a set-up, please drop me a line.

-- A recent development: Toney told her mother about my missing "items" and she busted out laughing. She said that Mumbles had told her the previous evening that he couldn't find three or four of his undershirts. I'm not making this up. He looked all around, and they're gone. Sunshine & Mumbles are staying with Nancy & Banana Nostrils at the moment. Do I need to connect the dots on this freak show? Unbelievable. Nostrils probably has a secret jack-off parlor beneath his house, full of mannequins and crude papier mache dummies, modeling the giant collection of stolen ball-huggers he's amassed over the years.

...Let's move on. I'm starting to get lightheaded.

-- I hate to keep writing about these people, but how can I not? A few days ago Sunshine told Toney that everyone was out for a few hours, and when they returned to Nancy's house they found that the dog had been in the trash. She said used condoms and sanitary napkins were strewn all over the place. Any questions? A few jumped to my mind, right off. But what's the point in pursuing it anymore? Really?

January 13, 2003

-- I don't want to seem paranoid, but I think some of my underwear is missing. Ever since Nancy and Nostrils left town I've barely been able to make it from Sunday to Sunday, our laundry day. In the past I've had an ample back-up supply, in case of emergency, but now I find myself just scraping by (so to speak). I haven't done a physical inventory, but I think I only have seven or eight pairs in rotation at the moment, when I recently had upwards of fifteen or twenty. What the hell?! What could've happened to them?? Obviously, I don't like living so close to the undergarment edge -- a man needs a safety net. Where the hell did they go?!

I was talking to Toney about this and she reminded me of something I'd forgotten. Years ago Nancy & Nostrils were visiting Sunshine & Mumbles in Reno, and Toney's mother caught Nostrils loading a stack of Mumbles' boxer shorts into his suitcase(?!!). When he was confronted with this, he acted like it was all just a big mistake; he thought they were his underwear. This didn't really hold water though, since anyone who's spent more than an hour with the freak has witnessed the stomach-churning spectacle of him strutting around in his tighty-whities. It's well-documented that Nostrils doesn't wear boxers -- they wouldn't be nearly dramatic enough. Plus there was the inconvenient fact that the load of britches had been taken from inside Mumbles' dresser.

So, what am I to believe here, that the man stole my draws?! I mean, what the fuck?? What in God's name would he do with them? Do I even want to know?! I can appreciate strange perversions as much as the next guy, but this is beyond the pale. I'm not exactly River Phoenix here, ya know? And Mumbles is like seventy years old! The whole thing conjures up so many questions and disturbing images, I'd rather just put it out of my mind; it's making me a little squeamish.

There's nothing left to do but to try to forget about it. I'll just go to Target later in the week and buy a dozen more ball-socks, and maybe a good fire safe to store them in. ...Dear God, how did I get to this point?

-- Speaking of perverts, it looks like Pete Townshend is in a bit of hot water. Apparently he's been downloading kiddie porn for, you know, research purposes. Interesting hobby. All those Who guys give me the creeps a little. With the possible exception of John Entwistle, they seem like people I'd steer clear of in real life. I appreciate Townshend's talent and everything, but he's a freak. And I don't mean that in a positive Lou Reed way either. He seems more like the Michael Keaton character in Pacific Heights to me. Have you read an interview with the man from the past twenty years or so? Fuh-reak. Here's an article about his little PR problem, and note that he says, in apparent defense of himself, "I've always been into pornography and I have used it all my life." Excellent.

-- Back to Nostrils for a second... Yesterday, after our emergency underwear meeting, Toney started making a verbal list of all the things she's noticed missing since he left town: Andy's Christmas ball with Santa heads on it, the little plastic scoop we use in our laundry detergent, a can of Pledge, and my raggedy old shorts... Now that's a pervert, folks. He and Pete should hang out, look at some pictures of Lily, and scoop each other to completion. Wait a minute, didn't Townshend have an album called Scoop?! Shit, it's all coming together!!

Am I jumping to too many conclusions here today?

December 31, 2002

More holiday crap:

-- The day after Christmas I was briefly convinced that my parents had hit the Powerball lottery.

We, of course, bought tickets, because the jackpot was up to something like $340 million. That shit would buy a lot of Cheez-Its! And, as the brothas in Atlanta used to tell me, you can't win if you ain't in. So when I came downstairs in the morning Toney told me there was a single winner: in West Virginia. I asked her what town, but she didn't know. I was mildly intrigued, but a whole state -- even a small one like West Virginia -- is still big as hell. I guzzled some coffee and eventually made my way to the bunker and signed onto the Internet.

The winning ticket had been purchased in the little town where my parents live! Population 5200!! Out of the whole country, and the Virgin Islands, the ticket had been sold within miles of my parents' house. Just the night before I'd asked my Dad if he'd bought Powerball tickets, and he said he had. Ho-ly crap!

I called their house and got no answer. Then I saw on CNN.com that a lawyer representing the winner had contacted the lottery commission. I pictured my Mom and Dad sitting in a law office in Charleston, shitting a brick the size of a Chevy Suburban. I called several more times, and every time they didn't answer I became more convinced I was the eldest son of multi-millionaires. I was already imagining our big new house overlooking Lake Norman in North Carolina.

But, of course, it was that guy in the black hat. The fucker was already a millionaire before he hit the thing! The bastard. My parents didn't even know anything about it until they got home from the grocery store and played back my series of hysterical messages.

Knowing them, they'll probably save the tape and break it out at dinner parties.

-- Speaking of phone calls, I walked in on Nostrils talking to someone, and this is roughly how it went:

"Martin? Hello, Martin? ... Yes, it's Banana Nostrils phoning, to wish you happy holidays! ... No, Banana Nostrils ... Did I catch you at a bad time? ... Martin, are you there? ...Hello?! ... Is this a bad time? ... Well, perhaps I'll try again later ... Yes well, goodbye then ... Bye bye."

The man is universally loved.

-- I noticed a Whitman's Sampler box of candy on our sideboard o' snacks a few days ago and lifted the lid to see if there might be something worthwhile still inside. To my dismay it was just a collection of little brown paper cups, all empty except for five or six -- and those contained hunks of chocolate with big bites taken out of them! Well-defined teeth marks were grooved into the side of each!! I just mixed myself another drink.

-- The day after Christmas I spent the morning shoveling snow (and imagining our new place at Lake Norman), with Count Nostrilla and Mumbles. It took hours to clean off the sidewalk and the driveway; the shit was deep. I kept thinking about all those news reports that say there's just something about the motion of snow shoveling that triggers so many heart attacks. But we eventually got it cleared off, without medical incident, and I fired up my truck in preparation for a little road trip. I had to get the hell out of there for a while, regardless of how dangerous it might be. I was maxed out.

I went back inside and BN had already slipped back into his Peter Pan pants, or whatever, and was gliding around the house as if on wheels. "I need a medicated lotion for this dreadful wind-burn!" Sometimes I find myself shocked to realize that the man's apparently heterosexual.

"I'm going out for a while!" I hollered to anyone who gave two shits.

I slipped and slided my way to Borders, and hung out looking at books and magazines for an hour or so, without the pressure of motherfuckers breathing down my neck and putting restrictions on my ass. I thought about buying a coffee, then decided against it. It was all up to me! I purchased the Chuck Barris "unauthorized autobiography" Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with great gusto, and not even a hint of embarrassment.

Then I went to the goddamn Taco Bell and had a big ol' Burrito Supreme and a heaping platter of Seven-Layer Nachos (without the nasty guacamole). I sat there and read about the resemblance of Chuck Barriss's cock to an overcooked strip of bacon, and had one of the best afternoons in recent memory. If heaven's anything like that, I want to go.

-- Sunshine & Mumbles bought Toney and me a $25 gift certificate to a cool little restaurant/bar in our neighborhood, which seemed pretty nice -- until I realized she'd given Nancy and Nostrils the exact same thing, and expected the four of us to go out together. I think she was trying to get us to "bond." Ha!

We went Friday night (I think) and took separate vehicles, just to give us the opportunity of bailing out if anything ridiculous should occur. Those people might get a few drinks in them and want to go work in a soup kitchen, build a Habitat For Humanity house, or take up residency in a 500 year old oak tree. I mean, who the hell knows what might happen?

But to be truthful, it wasn't too bad. They acted (dare I say it?) halfway normal. They didn't make the waitress cry or send anything back or anything like that. I was a little shocked, because I'd been dreading it all day. Plus I've seen them do all those things, and more, in the past. As we sat there talking I actually felt a little guilty for giving them so much shit, behind their backs. But just a little.

Some highlights:

Nancy and BN were perusing the massive list of novelty drinks they serve there, like Sex on the Countertop, and bullshit like that. I told them they should try a Cleft Lip, and they both started scanning the list, trying to find it. That brought a chuckle, so, in true Jeff Kay fashion, I drove a good thing into the ground. I tried it again with Skin Graft, Club Foot, Radical Overbite, and Open Sore. But I was unable to recapture the magic. The moment had passed.

BN briefly acted like he was interested in a drink called a Woo-Woo. I laughed and said that real men don't drink Woo-Woos. He moved on but I could tell he wanted one. Later he deep-throated a roast beef hoagie like it was prom night. I had to look away.

Nancy eventually began talking about their possible move to California again. They were talking about it in August, when they were last here. The horse was dead then, and it's like apple sauce by now. After her stock speech about how difficult the decision is, she asked me where I wanted to be, professionally, in ten years. I told her I have no professional ambition and only crave a higher salary. I said I don't want to move back to California, but I'd do it in a minute for the right amount of cash. All of my job decisions, I continued, have been based solely on the size of the paychecks.

Of course that isn't entirely true, but I knew it would rub her the wrong way. No wait, it is true... Shit.

Anyway, the night wasn't too bad. I think we may have even managed a little bonding. Ha!

-- One night Sunshine was doing some channel surfing and stopped on Deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo. I remembered seeing TV commercials for it and it looked a tad too retarded for my tastes. But it was frickin' hilarious! I sat there and laughed and laughed and laughed. I couldn't stop laughing. I think I may have been delirious because it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life. I'm not kidding. The part where he goes out with the woman suffering from Tourette's Syndrome almost made me shit my pants. She actually screamed out the phrase "ball hair!" They could've just as easily had her say "cocksucker" or something like that. You've got to admire when writers go the extra mile for you. I nearly wept.

-- Nancy and BN don't believe in flushing the toilet, unless it's absolutely necessary. I guess it's Earth-friendly, and possibly European, to leave your piss lying around for everyone to enjoy. Remember, these are the same people who used to shower while standing in galvanized steel tubs, to capture the water. Then they'd transfer their nasty-ass backwash (ball hair!) to the washing machine, and wash their clothes in it! So, anyway, when you go to the bathroom while they're around, you don't know what kind of treat you might find when you lift the toilet lid. It's usually a cornucopia of neon-yellow fluids and a tangled load of toilet paper. It's fuckin' disgusting. These people are turning our house into a bus station! But that's not the end of the story. Toney said she opened up the mystery box the other day and found out it was apparently Nancy's "time." I just had a full-body shiver.

-- Saturday night we all went to Chuck E. Cheese's. Sunshine has long dreamed of taking the translucents there, because they've experienced nothing outside of their Herman Melville first editions, or whatever it is they play with. They have no television at home, and get to do little that normal kids get to do. She wanted to see how they would react to such an avalanche of stimulation. And somehow she convinced Nancy to go along with this plan, which is incredible in itself.

When we got there the perky teenage cute-girl at the front wanted to stamp all of our hands. Immediately Nancy began interrogating her on why they do this. The frightened looking girly-girl said that it was for security purposes. Nancy huffed in a theatrical manner and launched into a speech about how Americans are so paranoid about the safety of their children, and go ridiculously overboard, blah blah blah. Jesus Christ, I was thinking, just move your over-educated ass out of the way so we can play some skee ball. Fuck. Everything's an issue.

When they tried to stamp the hand of the oldest translucent he let out a shriek like nothing I've heard since the Friday the 13th movies. He had a look of absolute terror on his face, and began backing up frantically. What in the honeybaked hell? It's a rubber stamp. I see some intense counseling in the future of the translucents, I'm telling ya. They finally had to stamp a piece of paper, and tape it to his shirt.

Well, this is going incredibly well, I thought to myself.

As soon as we sat down Nostrils went to the counter and ordered a shitload of food: pizza, fries, hot wings, salad, drinks, etc. etc. Toney and Sunshine weren't even there yet, and the guy was ordering like the Chinese missiles were on the way.

They gave him a plate, and he started in on the salad bar, as his kids ran around the place squealing and waving their arms unsupervised. He'd taken care of himself, but hadn't bought the kids any tokens or anything. Typical. I think Nancy was knitting with hemp yarn or something.

When Toney and Sunshine arrived, Nostrils was walking around the joint carrying his salad plate up near his mouth, just shoveling it in. Toney pointed this out to me and I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing. Who eats a goddamn garden salad while on the move? I looked over and he was folding a slice of cucumber the size of a coaster into his mouth, while walking through a sea of children. His nose holes were so enlarged I was surprised one of the kids didn't try to climb in there, looking for the ball pit.

When the waitress brought out the wings it was like a cartoon. He ate all of them himself, with such speed it looked like he was being fast-forwarded. I've never seen a set of jaws move at such an accelerated clip; they were just a blur. He cleaned those bones completely, then tried to suck out the marrow. Shit was flying everywhere, and the noise level was incredible.

A little while later the youngest translucent walked back to the table with blood running out of his mouth. He looked like a miniature Sid Vicious. They just wiped him down and sent him back into the fray. Who the hell knows?

Eventually Toney and Sunshine started getting pissed because BN was eating all the food. We were all paying equal shares, but that pig was eating three-fourths of everything himself. He sounded like a food processor, with a big set of lips to smack together. I said, "This is why socialism doesn't work!" loud enough for the geniuses to hear. I don't think they had any idea what I was talking about, though. They just looked at me with their pitying expressions. Poor fat retarded hillbilly, babbling incoherently again; it's sad.

And I think that'll do it for today. There's more, but I'm getting sick of thinking about it. I'll try to update again on Friday, with some non-Nancy stories. I hope everyone has a great New Year's. Thanks for taking the time to read this stuff, I really appreciate it. I'd lose my mind without you. See ya next year.

December 29, 2002

Sorry I've been so lax with the updates, but it's been like The Right Stuff around the Compound these past few days. If I come out of this holiday season still able to function in society, and remain employable, etc., it'll make Chuck Yeager's achievements seem like a spirited session of sausage-bopping on a warm summer afternoon. Good God, this has been one for the books. I'm not sure I'm a skilled enough writer to do it justice, I'm a tad bit intimidated, but here are a few more random notes...

-- At 6:30 am on Christmas Eve Toney woke me and told me she'd called an ambulance for her mother. Apparently she was having a "spell." Toney said she was lightheaded and her hands and feet were tingling, and didn't think she could make it to the hospital. Sweet Maria; here we go.

I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep but I could hear Sunshine in the room beneath me moaning, "Oh God, oh God, not now God, not now...!!" The wailing would ebb and flow and after ten or so minutes of this I began to wonder if it might actually be serious. Maybe I should go downstairs and feign concern, just in case? It would be hard to explain why I was curled up under the covers while Toney's mother died a few feet away. That would be bad.

So I dragged my ass out of bed and was in the kitchen pouring a cup of coffee when the paramedics arrived. Our dog Andy was going ass over tits crazy before the sun came up. I'm continuously surprised at how surprised I always am. Just when you start to believe you've seen it all, you find out you're sadly mistaken. It never ends.

"Hey, man," one of the uniformed authority figures said as he passed me in the kitchen. I thought that was a bit casual, under the circumstances, but what did I know about it? After the hipster medical man and his partner spent ten or fifteen minutes with Sunshine and Mumbles in our family room, they dragged all their equipment up the stairs and told us to have a merry Christmas, and left.

The hell?

"That son of a bitch didn't know a damn thing what he was talking about," screamed Sunshine from down below, "he wanted to know how much I'd had to drink last night!" Hilarious. Apparently they'd checked all her vital signs and concluded she was just massively hungover. Of course Sunshine calls this utter bullshit, and brings into question the abilities of all Scranton emergency medical technicians, as well as those in adjoining locales. But I have a feeling they were probably correct. She got progressively better throughout the day, and hasn't had any further problems with the rampant "tingling."

Only at my house would somebody call 911 for a hangover. They probably have our address flagged in the computer by now: lunatics. It probably flashes on their screen in red.

-- After all the excitement died down, and after I'd read the paper and downed a dangerous amount of coffee, I took a quick shower and headed back upstairs to make the bed. (I hate an unmade bed almost as much as an overhead light.) When I approached the living room I could hear some fucked-up Philip Glass-like music coming from somewhere within the house. As I turned the corner I saw "Nancy" in front of the Christmas tree in a full-on stork stance, the kind made famous by The Karate Kid. She was doing her exercises and was standing on one foot, on her tip-toes, and reaching way forward in slow motion, as her boombox sat nearby blasting the godawful racket. It was the same kind of "music" we used to crank up at Peaches Records at closing time, to clear the joint of customers. It never ends.

-- All day on Christmas Eve we were being told to prepare for a gigantic "snow event." Up to twenty-four inches they said, and the drumbeat continued all day long. Supposedly it would start at eight or nine o'clock that night, and would be one of the more dramatic storms in memory. I was skeptical but went out and bought more beer, just to be sure. The hack weather men on the local news adopted looks of deep concern, milking every last ounce of drama from the situation that their limited abilities would allow. When I went to bed that night, around midnight, nothing had happened. Not a single snowflake had fallen. The big Christmas storm had apparently turned into a non-event. I was mildly disappointed. I get excited by snow for some reason.

-- On Christmas Eve Nancy whipped up another batch of her famous homemade eggnog, and I adhered to my holiday tradition of staying the fuck away from it. Years ago, in Reno, when I was young and naive, I had a cup of that dreadful concoction and a big snot-like string slung from the lip of the cup and whipped under my chin, all the way to the top of my neck. Fuckin' nasty. It's just a big frothing bowl of raw eggs and gin, I think, and I'm having none of it. Every year she gets pissed at me for steering clear of her special treat, but I'm not a complete dumbass. Apparently salmonella doesn't exist in the perfect little utopia inside her head, but it sure as hell exists here on planet Earth. Goddamn.

-- One of the loyal readers of this site sent a gift to the Compound of three big bags of Harry & David "Moose Munch," a kick-ass popcorn, chocolate, and cashew conglomerate. I scarfed down one of the bags myself and sat the other two out for everyone else to enjoy. I walked into the kitchen at one point and Mr. Banana Nostrils had his booger-hooks plunged elbow-deep into one of the pouches, and was smacking his lips and flaring his nose holes like a bull. "This stuff's good," he slurred through a dental-dam of popcorn paste, launching unidentifiable debris in the general direction of the stove. I made a note that he was eating from the toffee-flavored bag, and left that one alone from there on out. Sweet Jesus.

-- During the day on Christmas Eve Nancy and Nostrils' taxidermy-ready shit-drizzling dog-style beast sauntered into the family room, stopped in the middle of the floor, and calmly let loose a thick torrent of orange juice-colored urine directly into our carpet. When Toney confronted Nancy with this, she immediately wanted to know if anyone had actually seen it happen. She was trying to lay the groundwork to blame it on Andy. Or me. When she was informed that we practically had it on film, she just muttered a half-assed apology, then insinuated that Toney shouldn't be so uptight about everything. "Things are going to happen," she said, in a condescending tone. That's what she says whenever something gets ruined at her hands: things are going to happen. We should be the ones apologizing, for making such a big deal about it. She should've been a trial lawyer, I swear.

-- One day Nancy completely ransacked our kitchen preparing a nasty-ass quiche that was gray in color and had black slimy stuff imbedded in it. It may have been seaweed, but I'm not sure. It was such a big deal we all felt compelled to try it at dinner. I cut a small wedge and placed it on my plate, careful not to allow it to touch any of my normal-people food. And everybody else carved themselves out big hunks of it as well. After a few minutes I took a deep breath and placed a little bit of it in my mouth. It tasted like feet. Fuck it. I ended up throwing it in the trash and covering it up with a Rice-A-Roni box or something. But the best part was Sunshine's reaction. I looked over at her and she gave me a secret look of revulsion. I looked away and tried not to laugh, but when I glanced back at her she was staring straight ahead with no expression on her face. Her right hand was at her side, in a fist, and Andy was standing there at attention. Her fist opened and a giant wad of the horrifying quiche rolled out onto the floor and Andy gobbled it down. The whole time this was happening she was completely expressionless and continued eating with her left hand -- a real pro. I just busted out laughing. I couldn't help it. It was classic. Later she admonished me for almost ruining everything for her. But I think it all turned out OK -- for everyone but Andy. Poor guy. I saw him in the backyard later shooting a majestic arc of diarrhea into a rose bush.

-- On Christmas morning Nancy came out of the bathroom sporting a shirt that looked like the Miami Dolphins parka I used to wear in grade school. Sunshine told her it was "interesting" and Nancy's eyes sparkled at the chance to tell everyone the story behind it. She said it was made entirely of recycled 2-liter soda bottles! What in the harelipped hell?! Sunshine asked her how much it cost, but she wouldn't say. She would only admit that it was fairly expensive. This is a part of the story she likes to avoid, because someone always points out that it's only the elites who can afford to be righteous. So she quickly changed the subject away from her ugly-ass soda bottle smock. She was seething. Goddamn inconvenient facts got in her way again.

-- On Christmas day we were slammed with fourteen or fifteen inches of snow. It started coming down around ten in the morning and continued dumping throughout the day. It was awesome and pretty and all that, but some nagging concerns began to pile up along with the snow. What if we can't get out of the house tomorrow? We'll all be stuck in here together, like a Bio-Sphere of fucked-upness. And what if Nancy and the gang can't leave for Canada on Friday like they planned? Shit! And I'd been disappointed by the weather non-event just hours before. I really need to learn to think these things through. I felt like I was responsible somehow.

-- The only place to escape the unrelenting chaos is in the bathroom, so I've been taking a lot of lengthy dumps the past week or so. I go in with a novel and sit there until my legs fall asleep. ("The tingling! Somebody call 911! Not now God... not now!!") This is what I've been reduced to: personal bowel-movement sanctuaries. Even there I occasionally experience a translucent hand poking in under the door, and tiny voices saying, "Uncle Jeff, are you pooping again?" Simply excellent.

-- We opened our presents on Christmas morning and I noticed that all the ones from Nancy and BN were wrapped in paper that depicted black and Hispanic children having a snowball fight. Minority wrap. Incredible. I considered making a joke about the violent nature of it all, but I thought better of it. I'd become Trent Lott, in a Baghdad minute. Or, closer to the truth, it would just confirm a few things already in their minds. So I put a lid on my "comedy." And I tried to snag a piece to scan, but I think they hustled it into their van for future use. The shit disappeared. We'll see it again next year, I'm sure.

They bragged to us earlier that they had only spent a combined ten dollars on gifts for their translucent hooligans. Ten bucks total!! They spend that much on one of their goddamn organic mangoes! Sunshine gave Nancy some shit about it so they, along with Toney, tried to come up with something at the last minute. They went out to our garage and tried to find something for Santa to bring them. I think the oldest one got a garden weasel and the youngest got a sprinkler or something. Who the hell knows? I try not to pay attention. All I know is they got some pretty shitty gifts.

I got a book (Our Band Could Be Your Life), a scarf (I'm not sure I'm a scarf kinda guy, but I guess I'll give it a shot), an outhouse calendar, a Borders gift certificate, a Barnes & Noble gift certificate, a vintage Mattel handheld football game that I used to play with in the 70s, and a cool coffee table book full of old pictures from Kanawha County, WV. I gave Toney a watch that costs $500 in stores, but I acquired through my evil Big Business connections for $150. Don't tell her; she thinks I'm a high-roller. Ahem.

And that's about half of the story. I'm sorry to drag this out so much, but there's just so much to tell, including our trip to Chuck E. Cheese's(!?!) and our intimate night on the town with Nancy and BN at a local bar. I'll try to finish it on Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime, here's a spy picture I managed to snap on Friday night (while emboldened by lots and lots of Yuengling), of Nancy's latest taste treat. I once saw something similar in the corner of a bathroom stall at a ZZ Top concert in Greensboro, NC. There is no way I'm eating any of that crap. Look how shiny it is!!

December 23, 2002

The gang's all here. Sunshine and Mumbles, "Nancy," her so-called husband Banana Nostrils, and their brood of undisciplined see-through children, are all piled up in our house for God knows how long. Apparently it's all in celebration of Christmas, which feels mildly like sinister payback for something I'm too stupid to figure out. Signs from on-high are lost on the intellectually- sluggish, I'm afraid. As is often the case under these circumstances, I'm feeling a little scattered. So I'll just give you my notes on the visit thus far, in no certain order. I don't have the energy to do it any other way... I had quite a bit to drink last night.

-- As soon as the smoke-belching hippie van (full of hardcore environmentalists) pulled into our driveway on Sunday, you couldn't have run a fiber-optic cable through my sphincter. The shit was cinched off. I walked upstairs as soon as someone announced their arrival and crap was already strewn all over the lawn: blankets and dirty children and hemp sacks... who the hell knows? It looked like Phish was in town. Oh, sweet Jesus, I'm convinced. Please take me into your service. I am yours! Ol' BN, pleased as all hell with himself, told me he'd brought me a case of beer. He then swung open the back of the van and removed a big box of chocolate ale. Chocolate! I think my butthole actually turned to glass at that point. I could actually hear it crystallizing inside my pants.

-- Immediately Banana Nostrils began chatting like we were buddies from way back. He asked if I'm a fan of the Lord of the Rings films, and I told him I don't like movies with swords and dwarves. I said I could handle swords or dwarves, but never the two together -- or some such bullshit. And that pretty much set the tone for another uncomfortable visit. Perhaps I am part of the problem? Is that possible? Hmmm...

-- Last night "Nancy" said something to her youngest kid about nursing and Toney, surprised, said she thought he was drinking from cups by now. Nancy explained that the kid was finished with breastfeeding but she wasn't(!?), so she'd started him back on it. Do I lead a sheltered life, or is that just a tad bit creepy? The kid has a full set of teeth and a larger vocabulary than half the people I graduated from high school with. She wasn't done! Fuck.

-- I overheard Nancy telling Toney that she hopes she'll receive Canadian citizenship for Christmas this year. What in the harelipped hell?! She lives in North Carolina. Is it something you can just order out of the back of Rolling Stone or something? And if so, why would anyone do it? What's the benefits? There's just so much I don't understand.

-- Sunday night Toney and I were standing in the kitchen and their cyst-spangled bag o' ticks dog-style pet strolled in, and just stood there looking at the ground for an extended period. We went on talking and after a minute or so the thing suddenly tipped over like it was made of ceramic. It just went sideways, for no apparent reason. Its legs were straight out and it made no attempt to get back on its feet. Then it started having some sort of seizure, shaking and slobbering and shit. I just mixed us another drink.

-- I looked at their dog's food dish this morning and it had something in it that looked like potted meat, sour cream, banana slices, peat moss, and almonds. Jesus J. McChrist. How long before the clocks start melting?

-- Banana Nostrils had been bragging about the "used" camcorder they bought recently, and was obviously eager to show it to us. After we'd dragged in all their stuff he broke out a solid-body suitcase, cracked his knuckles in a theatrical manner, and opened it in front of everyone. Eventually, after much build-up, he extracted a camera that may have been used in World War II, by Edward R. Murrow. I think it was the first model that didn't use the big dual reels on top, and I'm not sure if it required a hand-held exploding flash powder stand or not. I'm not kidding, it must've weighed forty pounds. Nancy and Banana Nostrils are nothing if not on the cutting edge of technology.

-- Last night I overheard Nancy and Sunshine talking about Time's Person of the Year: The Whistleblowers. I guess Time couldn't stomach the thought of giving it to President Bush so they came up with another of those gimmicky selections, the people who ratted out Enron, etc. This conversation, of course, led to a diatribe by Nancy about the evils of Big Business. I sat and listened to her rant and bit my bottom lip. I was on the verge of running into the room and informing her that Big Business paid for the bed she's sleeping in tonight, and the roof she's sleeping under, not to mention the food she's gobbling down between anti-capitalistic outbursts. It was all I could do not to sit my bourbon & Coke down and begin yelling, "Hooray for Big Business, sport utility vehicles, the Van Halen brothers, and all that make this country great!" But I just bit my bottom lip.

-- Banana Nostrils burnt our kitchen countertop with their ridiculous motor-oil, diarrhea-fuel, faggotty European coffee press. He sat it on the counter and branded a big brown circle into it. Very nice. Toney confronted them with it and they began spinning like Meet the Press. I haven't heard such shucking and jiving since Clinton left office. Ol' BN actually got out a tape-measure and proceeded to perform some calculations. After this big production was over he entered the room and announced that it wasn't the coffee press after all. They were completely innocent -- it was all a big mistake. And then he acted as if the matter was closed. It's like a sitcom. I swear to God. My life is like a sitcom.

December 19, 2002

-- "Nancy" and her so-called husband (married on a beach by an actor amongst a pack of leaping dogs...) will be here within days. She recently mentioned to Toney that if there's snow here she'd like to take her translucent kids out in the yard to build a "snow citizen." I've heard her use this gender-neutral term before, and it's one of my favorite Nancyisms. The only one that might possibly surpass it is when someone says "killing two birds with one stone" and she answers in a haughty tone, "I prefer feeding two birds with one crumb..." She's a classic, that Nancy.

-- Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Nancy and Banana Nostrils' pathetic shit-drizzling dog, the one that looks at you with those big "please kill me" eyes, reportedly has a giant cyst on its neck which has to be "drained" on a regular basis. So, apparently it's going to be an old-fashioned neck-drainin' Christmas around the Compound this year. Ho, ho, ho. Seriously, if that bag of ticks rubs its jiggly fur-sack on my leg or something, I'll blow party mix all over the room. That shit gives me the creeps just thinking about it. Goddamn. How did it all get so complicated?

December 12, 2002

-- Here's part of a funny email I received recently, from a reader in Atlanta. She seems to be developing a "Nancy Theory," which I think deserves further attention.

Regarding your December 9 entry, this is further evidence supporting my theory that there is something seriously wrong with any woman named Nancy. This started in college with a Nancy, who blamed all the bad things that happened to her (and bad things were always happening to her) on her leaky breast implants. Another Nancy, a coworker, once opened a conversation with, "You know, the midget who raped me..." and believes there is a large mirror in space that can be used to kill people with concentrated beams of reflected light. I could go on and on with my Nancy stories, but they all culminate into Nancies being women I wished I never met. I've even asked other people to think back on any Nancy they know and it isn't only me, there's crazy Nancies everywhere.

Wonder where I could apply for a grant to start a Nancy Think-Tank? Maybe that ugly guy on TV with the question marks all over his suit could help? I don't know, but I think the time has obviously come.

December 9, 2002

-- Toney spoke to "Nancy" yesterday, and they are indeed coming for Christmas. The whole gang will be here, including Banana Nostrils, the two l'il translucent vegan destruction experts, and their shit-drizzling dog-like mongrel. This isn't news really, they told us back in August. But there's always hope for a change of heart. Anyway, Toney was telling me about their conversation, and how it became just as tense and contentious as ever.

It's very difficult to have a conversation with Nancy because of all her causes and wacko political stances. At some point Toney casually mentioned that she'd bought something at Wal-Mart, and things got icy from there. That's all it took. I can't remember what her problem with Wal-Mart is, I don't have my Scorecard of Lunacy handy, but I think it has to do with them moving into neighborhoods and shutting down Mom 'n' Pop stores. Or it could be the whole sweatshop deal. I'm just not sure.

But that's the way it goes with Nancy. Ms. Pro-Choice Compassionate Tolerant doesn't much care for differing opinions. I sincerely believe that if it were up to her, it would be against the law to disagree with her. I'm not joking. Toney was ranting about this and, out of the blue, said something that was like a punch to my outsized gut: "She thinks we're just a couple of loser conformists..." I gasped. Conformists!? That's certainly not a word I'd use to describe myself. Loser yes, but not conformist. Could it be true though? Shit. Am I just blind to it? Am I the proverbial Mr. Sheep?!

It nagged at me all day. It was like that episode of Seinfeld when Elaine broke up with a guy and he called her "big head." I became wracked with self-doubt.

Then I went to Wendy's.

I sat there in a funk, silently eating my #1 with cheese, no pickles, and a Coke, just taking in everything that was going on around me. I was still thinking about that conformist thing, kinda sulking, when I started noticing all the other men of my age. And I saw that almost all of them were wearing wire-rim glasses, moustaches, perfectly pressed shirts tucked into khaki pants, and Hush Puppies. Their hair, if they had any, was neat and parted on the side. And they were carrying on serious conversations devoid of silliness and absurdity. They were all Ned Flanders!

Fuck it, I thought, I'm not these guys! I'm the polar opposite of these guys!! I was starting to build up momentum... I look like an unmade bed, and I'm constantly driving Toney to the brink of insanity with my unceasing stupidity and ridiculousness. If she were here right now I'd probably be telling her how men with long fingernails give me the creeps, or discussing those little plastic "tables" that come with pizzas. I'm undisciplined and unreliable! I have no social skills, and don't desire any!! And I have a Teenage Fanclub CD in my truck at this very moment! I nearly rose to my feet and asked how many of the people in the house had ever heard of Teenage fuckin' Fanclub. Conformist, my ass!

I love Wendy's, I really do.    

August 10, 2002

-- Nancy and ol' Banana Nostrils have a decision to make, and whenever that happens the rest of us suffer. I've never met a more indecisive couple in my life. Every little thing is analyzed and debated and slept-on... Conclusions are finally arrived at, celebrated with great fanfare, only to be abandoned an hour or two later. It goes on and on and on, and it's enough to make you want to set yourself on fire.

BN was offered a job in southern California, to fill young impressionable minds with Communist Propaganda or whatever it is he does, but Nancy has tenure at the college where she teaches. Supposedly this is BN's "dream job," so you can see the dilemma. To be fair, it wouldn't be an easy decision to make for anyone, but frankly I don't want to hear about it anymore. At this point I couldn't give two shits what they decide. They've been talking about it for months. Shit or get off the pot already! Great Christ almighty.

Anyway, we got roped into several long-winded philosophical discussions with them about what's Really Important in life, usually late at night when everybody was slightly drunk. (Toney accused me of baiting them during one of these sessions, but I was just stating my opinion -- about The People's Republic of Kalifornia.) And after we'd had one of these bullshit pow-wows on our deck, Nancy and BN became teary-eyed and claimed we'd helped them to finally see things clearly. The path was suddenly obvious, and we'd helped them to shed this massive burden. One of them said our advice was "sage," which I'm pretty sure is a good thing. They'd decided they would stay put, and pass up the California job. I think BN even had ideas about hugging me, but I nipped that bullshit in the bud.

Finally! Toney and I were excited when we went to bed, thinking we'd never have to hear about it again. But we should've known better. The very next morning everything was up in the air again. As I was coming down the steps I heard Nancy say,"Gawwwd! What are we going to do?!"

If I'd been Mr. Krabs my arms would've fallen off.

-- Since I'd gone along with everyone to Barnes & Noble last weekend I'd earned the privilege of sitting out the big family outing to a public swimming pool on Sunday. Even under normal circumstances I'm not a big fan of swimming with the great unwashed; I feel like I'm submerging myself in a communal bath. It's like a giant schooner of ball broth, and I generally try to steer clear of such situations. But I apparently missed out on quite a display at the ol' swimming hole that day. Nancy was reportedly not only sporting her traditional luxurious underarm pelts, but I guess there was an added bonus: her bikini bottom apparently wasn't up to the task of containing the wild jungle growth down below! Supposedly it looked like her bathing suit had some sort of unusual decorative fringe. Dammit, I knew I should've gone. All the double-takes from the locals would've made it worthwhile.

-- And speaking of double-takes, one of the l'il translucent vegan children busted into the bathroom while I was taking a leak one evening, causing me to contort my body into an unnatural position, so as to block my junk from being on public display. And at the same time I tried to halt the already-in-progess stream, since the curtains were suddenly in danger, and the whole episode left me in a state of lingering discomfort. Dammit, you can't even take a whizz in your own bathroom! I guess we'll have to buy a Chinese Pissing Screen or something. Goddamn.

-- Monday night the golden couple told us they would be leaving early Tuesday morning to go to New York City, or something along those lines. All I heard was "leaving Tuesday morning," and then the theme to Rocky started playing. Hell, yeah! Visions of calm evenings spent watching The Sopranos danced through my head. We all got up early Tuesday, and BN began loading the hippie van while Nancy rustled up some inedible organic grub. After about fifty trips back and forth, the van was finally loaded, then the translucents were strapped into their car seats. We all started saying our goodbyes, there were a few hugs, and then -- wham! -- Nancy dropped another bombshell. "You know, we don't have to leave today...," she said. Sweet mother of Pearl, they decided to stay a couple more days -- just like that! And after taking all morning to load up!! I was shocked, and struck speechless for at least an hour. I drove to work muttering to myself, in a state of absolute disbelief. I kept thinking, are we on Candid Camera? Is all this being secretly filmed by a Fox camera crew? Is Bob Sagat somehow involved?

-- That night, to show their appreciation(!?), Nancy and BN made plans to cook us dinner. When Toney broke that bit of news to me I made a mental note to stop at a store on my way home from work for a pack of hotdogs. I didn't know what to expect but I knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. And I was right. When I got home I snuck my contraband into the refrigerator, and went out on the deck where everybody was already seated. There was wine, and a big plate of sliced French bread. And in the middle of the table was a huge stainless steel bowl filled with long-grain rice and apples and walnuts and a bunch of other crap. I couldn't believe it. That was dinner! What am I, Seattle Slew? It looked like something you'd feed horses. I sat down and choked down a little of it, and truthfully it wasn't too bad -- but it was a fucking side dish, not a main course. Shit. Later that night I nuked a couple of hotdogs, popped the top on a can of Yuengling, turned on The Munsters, and silently dared anybody to make a comment. I was ready to throw-down with some no-holds-barred vegan wrestling, if anybody uttered a goddamn word.

-- The next night Banana Nostrils disappeared after dinner and we didn't see him again that evening. I guess he went to Borders, or some shit. Who the hell knows? But he didn't come back to the house until around eleven o'clock. Everybody was asleep except me, and I was lying in bed reading. I guess he thought he had the house to himself, because I could hear him down there firing off loud, powerful farts, one after the other. And I went to sleep that night being serenaded by explosive PhD gas.

-- Toney went downstairs later that night to get a drink of water, and she said ol' BN was still up, and had a bunch of gigantic wall maps spread all over the dining room. She said it was after 2 AM, and the man was consulting military planning charts or some shit. I mean, what the hell?

-- On Wednesday they left town all day, to visit some college library somewhere, and Toney watched their kids. It was amazing how well they behaved once you told them what to do, instead of leaving everything up to them. It probably crushed their self-esteem, and it'll all be brought up in counseling sessions fifteen years down the road, but it worked out well for us in the short term. I guess it wasn't nearly as hard on Toney as I had predicted, and all was calm when I got home from work. When Nancy and BN returned around seven, they asked us if they could stay through the weekend, and we both just about soiled ourselves. Toney hesitated a little, and finally told them no, that we'd had enough. So, even after all that we'd put up with, they left the next morning with tension in the air, feeling as if we'd dissed them somehow. Unbelievable.

Toney asked them where they were headed, and Nancy said they were going to visit an old friend in NYC. Then she went on to tell us he's a homosexual former actor who ran for City Council in a logging town in Oregon on the Socialist ticket, and made a name for himself by refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I guess he's in New York to interview a dying Communist historian who was blacklisted in the '50s, or something equally fucked-up. (At some point it all just starts rolling off you like water off a duck...) But, get this, the Socialist actor told Nancy he really only wanted to see her. He said he never cared much for Ol' BN, and he doesn't like kids! They left here offended because we wouldn't allow them to wreck three of our weekends in a row, but this guy can get away with a comment like that? Try to figure that one out.  Perhaps if I started fantasizing about Karl Marx in a pair of tight briefs I'd get a little more respect?

-- So, they're gone, but not before dropping yet another bombshell: "We'll see you at Christmas!" Nancy hollered over the noise of German engineering laboring under the hood of their hippie van. And she wasn't joking.

Somebody needs to drive up here and kick my ass. Do it... shoe me in the nuts, I beg of you...  I have it coming.

August 9, 2002

People are starting to turn on me because of this Nancy stuff. I'm not joking. One of my best friends threatened to drive up here and kick my ass earlier in the week. I'm paraphrasing, but there was no mistaking what he meant. He wanted to kick my ass! Everybody wants to know why we put up with it all, and why we don't just throw Nancy and her brood to the curb. And since I'm now apparently in physical danger, I thought I'd take this opportunity to clear up a few things...

First of all, "Nancy" is Toney's sister. When I started writing about her in the early days of this site I decided I needed to keep her identity a secret. Even now I'm a little concerned she's going to find my swirling pit of internet bitterness, and the proverbial shit will hit the mythical fan. As hard as it may be to believe, I would actually feel a little bad about insulting them and hurting their feelings; they're not evil, just fucked in the head. But the worst part would be the position it would put Toney in. I really don't want my goofy little hobby to cause my wife a bunch of grief. Ya know? Holy crap, I can only imagine the dramatics! And if Sunshine and Mumbles got dragged in, it would become positively apocalyptic.

I briefly considered never mentioning Nancy again, because of the danger of her finding out (all she would have to do is plug my name into a search engine and my tofu goose would be cooked!), in addition to the fact that it makes me look like a goddamn wimp. I probably am a little wimpy, but I can promise you I'd never put up with much of this horseshit from friends. When relatives are involved though, things can get a little complicated -- especially when they're your wife's relatives.

After some thought I came to the realization that there is no way in hell I could not write about Nancy. She's comedy gold, and I simply can't turn my back on that. I'm sorry, but I'm only flesh and blood here.

So... I've gone back and extracted any major mention of her and her so-called husband (married on a beach by an actor amongst a pack of leaping dogs) from the last two months of my journal, and moved the important stuff to this new page. It's a half-assed insurance policy against her finding out -- any links to it will be very low-key and quiet -- and I'll just continue on as before, and hope for the best.

Perhaps I'm both wimpy and paranoid?  Not to mention a little mean...  Shit, why do I feel guilty all of the sudden?

Anyway, "Nancy" and the gang finally left Thursday morning, and I'll post some of the highlights of their final few days here, as soon as possible. Sorry, but I'm all out of time.  But I think it'll be worth the wait...

August 5, 2002

This is going to be a half-assed update, so prepare yourself now. "Nancy" and her brood are back in town, and my free time is taking a real bite in the ass. I was hoping we'd pissed them off and they would bypass us on their way back from Canada, but apparently not. They arrived back at The Compound Friday night, and I overheard her telling her mother on the phone that they'd be here until Wednesday. Wednesday! The only good thing I'm getting out of this week is that I'm no longer afraid of hell.

I don't want to keep beating a dead horse, I think you get the idea on these people, but here's a progress report on part two of their visit...

-- We all went to Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, to Barnes & Noble and a couple of other stores, and it turned into the fiasco you might expect. We were all packed into their van (a Volkswagen minibus, I shit you not), and the stench of garlic was overpowering. There's nothing quite like high heat -- no air conditioning, of course -- and the scent of garlic sweat swirling all around. Fucking disgusting. It oozes from their pores!

Ol' BN wanted to buy a pair of "short pants" (what is this, 1965?), so they dropped us off at the bookstore, and continued on to Old Navy or somewhere. I'd been given the choice of doing this Wilkes-Barre trip, or going to the pool with them on Sunday. Toney knew I wouldn't go for both, so she left it up to me. I thought: let's see, air conditioning and books, or ball-baking heat and cheesesteak-fed factory workers with no shirts...

So we walked around the bookstore in Wilkes-Barre, enjoying the cool temperatures, and the peace and quiet. I found a really cool book about 1980's underground music, and settled into a big fluffy chair to check out the chapter on The Replacements. But before I could get to the bottom of the first page I heard a familiar wailing from the front of the store, and knew I should just look at the pictures, since concentrating was no longer an option. The Replacements would have to take a backseat to The Translucents.

Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a very skinny man round the corner wearing a pair of huge neon-yellow old-man shorts, and was shocked to learn that my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. It was Nancy's so-called husband sporting his new purchase! Obviously they came off the clearance rack, and weren't even close to his size; they would've been baggy on my big ass. And what did he do, change in the parking lot? I couldn't believe it. Who in their right mind would voluntarily wear such a garment in public? They looked like they'd been stolen off a bingo card-clutching corpse in the activity room of a Florida retirement community. It was all I could do not to laugh in his face.

I kept my distance, but I guess Nancy had a few run-ins with people in the store. They have problems wherever they go, because their kids are like wild animals. Any structure or limit is simply out of the question, because of self-expression issues and the like. Consequently, they leave a path of chaos and destruction in their wake, wherever they roam. Their kids are allowed to do anything, and nobody can comment on it -- even if they tear up your shit (more on that later).

On our ride home Nancy started talking about the rudeness of people in the northeast, and I just sat there and bit my tongue. She launched into this big production about the socio-economic situation here, and how it breeds hostility. It went on for five or ten minutes, this highbrow excuse-making, and I could feel my blood-pressure rising. Their kids walked around that store, knocking stuff off shelves and probably biting people, but folks only reacted negatively because of their low salaries. This is the kind of thing that drives me mad. They fuck shit up, but still go around with their noses in the air. They preach tolerance and equality, but act superior in every situation. Grrr.

-- Before we left for the bookstore Ol' BN suddenly turned around and went back into the house. We were already packed into that garlic box when this happened, but it surprised nobody. These people have doctorates, but they can barely function as human adults; everything is perpetually scattered and disorganized. We thought he'd forgotten something (maybe a light jacket, since he's so sensitive to commercial air conditioning), but it turned out he'd gone back in to take a shit. We sat there in that cube of heat and waited, and waited, and waited some more. I'm not exaggerating, he was in the shitter for a full half-hour. When he came out he rubbed his stomach and said, "People always say I'm full of it, but I'm not now!" I could feel my lunch rise up into my throat.

-- Later that night Nancy was walking around the house passing out baked garlic cloves to everyone. When she got to me I waved her away and said, "I'd rather eat one of Andy's yard biscuits." I could see Toney shoot me a look, but it was the truth.

-- So far the little misunderstood translucents have broken a VCR (non-repairable, according to the TV guy), screwed up one of our TVs ($37 to repair), burned out one of our remotes (it finally just said, fuck it), knocked a picture off the wall, and snapped a DVD in half. I didn't even know that last one was possible! After each of these events we've been told that we should just expect a certain amount of damage whenever young kids are around. So, you see, it's our fault if we get irritated. We're ignorant if we react.

--  On Sunday morning Toney told one of the kids that he couldn't hurl a big-ass Tonka truck against the living room wall anymore, and Nancy got all pissy with her, and there was reportedly tension for hours. I wouldn't know, because Andy and I were still in bed, with the covers pulled up over our faces.

-- Some newly discovered Nancyisms: "Would anyone care for a segment of orange?" and "Saturday night maybe we should do a spaghetti." Who talks this way? How did I get here? If I click my heels will it all become normal again?

July 30, 2002

Hurricane "Nancy" has come and gone. She blew into town Thursday evening, deceptively subdued, but built up to full devastating power before continuing northward on Sunday.

Iím not going to try to string it all together in a chronological story line, Iíll just give you my fleshed-out notes from the weekend. Iím too tired and hot to work. Sue me.

-- Nancy and her gang were supposed to arrive at our house Thursday evening, or Friday afternoon. They couldnít tell us for sure, because they have to play it by ear. Toney and I have a unique approach to our life: we make plans and follow through. Itís highly unorthodox, but it seems to work for us. When these people are involved, however, everything can change from minute to minute. It sends me up the frickiní wall. We once spent hours - and I mean hours - driving around Greenville, SC with Nancy, trying to decide on a restaurant for dinner. Round and round, up and down, for hours. I canít begin to describe the frustration. It was right after Toney and I started dating, and I was trying to put on a polite face, but I secretly wanted to gnaw my way through the fender of that Volkswagen, and escape to a Wendyís somewhere, free of that crazy indecisive intellectual.

Anyway, when they said Thursday or Friday I assumed that meant Friday or Saturday. Thursday was completely safe in my mind. I donít know when Iíll learn... We were all kicked back watching The Sopranos, around eight oíclock on Thursday, and they called from someplace called Cornhole, PA, or something - roughly 100 miles away. Crap.

They busted through the doors around ten, and we sat up talking until midnight or so. I finally threw in the towel and went to bed, and Toney was only minutes behind me. I laid there reading and heard a lot of crashing and slamming coming from the kitchen, and wondered what in the living hell they were doing down there. Then there was a powerful wave of cooking smells, followed by coffee fumes. Coffee! At midnight!! And what exactly were they cooking anyway? It smelled like a goddamn Dennyís. More slamming and crashing and high-pressure water and microwave beepings, etc. etc. - and then the smoke alarm went off. And it went off for a long, long time. I guess they like their shamburgers well-done, but they could've at least waved a copy of The Nation around to try to get that beeping to stop. Here we go...

-- The next morning I went into the downstairs bathroom to take a shower and I had to cut a path through the truckload of fucked-up hippy toiletries lying everywhere. I have no idea what it all was, I couldnít even look at it because it gives me the creeps, but there was one of everything, I bet. A lot of it seemed to be made from honeycombs and river rocks and shit. I saw a tube of some kind of clear goo with yellow jackets imbedded in it. Who the hell knows? For some reason it bothers me to see other peopleís personal ointments and stuff, especially when you know itís being applied over thick thatches of dark hair that Western culture frowns upon. But maybe thatís just my hang-up?

-- The shower nozzle was all screwed up, and tilted radically to the left - just like the people who'd used it previously. Weíve had a long-term battle with them over shower nozzles; they canít leave them alone. In California they fiddled around with one so much it finally snapped off. When I got home from work one day Toney was seething, and there was a pipe sticking out of our bathroom wall. Just a big curved pipe. They also like to have sex in there, and put on a big show for everyone. Iíve written about how they thrash around and bang against the walls, and moan and groan. Itís all for everybody elseís benefit. My running line is, ďWatch where you step, Ďcause that ainít Tilex.Ē Itís a lot to think about when you just want to take a quick shower in the morning. Am I standing in sex juice here?

-- They had their kids, both little boys, dressed in girl clothes most of the time. And Iím not just talking mildly feminine shirts and the like, I mean actual blouses. Their youngest was wearing a smart little number with bees on the front, and buttons shaped like flowers. It was long and flared out at the bottom. I couldnít believe it. It was a frigginí dress. Toney asked Nancy about it, and you could see her eyes sparkle at the opportunity to climb up on her high-horse. She went on at length about how she refuses to be a slave to gender roles, that her kids will grow up unencumbered by such social baggage, blah blah blah. Then she said she finds herself treating her kids differently if theyíre dressed like traditional boys, which contradicted everything sheíd just said.  Sounds like she's just a man-hater. Whatever. Iíve learned that it does you no good to even try to think about any of that stuff. If you go down that path youíll surely go insane. Itís best to just grab another Yuengling, and move on. And after the school shootings occur in fifteen years or so, just answer the press's questions the best you know how.

-- One morning Nancyís so-called husband was reading the paper and drinking a big steaming cup of oily-black diarrhea coffee (itís European) when he suddenly began convulsing with laughter. He threw his head back and started snorting, his nostrils flaring and his Adamís Apple dancing in a sickening manner. I was afraid he was going to suck a shade off one of our lamps, or inhale a couch cushion or something. "This is one of the smartest, and funniest cartoons I've ever read," he finally gasped. Here it is. You be the judge. I'll make no comment.

-- Five or six times a day they come together in the kitchen, and completely ransack the place. They eat constantly, and can turn a simple peanut butter sandwich into a huge production. They don't believe in just taking the top off a tub of butter and getting what they need, they dig out an ice cream scoop of the stuff and place it on a saucer, like they're the goddamn Vanderbilts. At one point I walked through the kitchen and the counters were piled high with glasses and plates and stuff, and it had been all-clear only minutes before. Nancy was in there loading up bamboo skewers with eggplants and mushrooms, and god knows what all. Just a light mid-afternoon snack. She had Toney's CD player cranked up with some horrible tribal music that sounded like a mental patient passing a stone in the middle of a swarm of angry hornets. I checked the clock to see if it was too early to start drinking.

-- I almost swallowed my tongue when Nancy's husband said something about their youngest kid taking after him, and not eating much. He said this as he folded yet another fully-loaded slice of jelly toast into his mouth. Strawberry and saliva was flying everywhere, as he explained how he's never had much of an appetite. I had to look away.

-- For some unknown reason they brought their broken-down old sack-o-ticks dog with them, even though they know Toney won't allow it in the house. The thing is mean, partially blind, and constantly filthy. It also drizzles liquid shit out of its ass, almost continuously. It hung out on our driveway, tied up to their van, the entire time they were here. Just hanging out and drizzling. You can almost see it pleading with you, "Please kill me. Do it, Mister. Please."

-- One day Nancy went to the YMCA for a swim, and returned angrily preaching about the small-mindedness of segregated locker rooms. I'm not making this up.

-- Similar to their conspicuous shower-stall encounters, Nancy and her "hubby" also put on a grand performance every morning with their daily exercises. Nancy starts with her stretches -- in the middle of the living room floor -- complete with exaggerated breathing and the rolling of eyes. Ol' B.N. usually just does some pushups -- in the middle of the living room floor -- but sometimes adds in a few squat 'n' thrusts. Toney told me that one morning, before I'd summoned enough courage to get out of bed, Nancy was complaining that she'd forgotten to bring her weights. Toney left the room for a couple of minutes and when she came back Nancy was sitting in the floor, waving around two plastic jugs of milk. Then after her workout she calmly got up and returned them to the refrigerator!

-- The final day was the worst. The golden couple was arguing, and sniping at each other all morning. Their kids were screeching and wailing, and producing an incredible sustained cacophony the likes of which I've never experienced. One just sat in the floor and made noises like a fax machine for an hour. It was excruciating. It reminded me of the primate house at the Cincinnati Zoo. I think it all ended on a bad note. These things always seem to go a day too long. We were all thoroughly sick of each other by that point, and everything just started to come apart at the seams. They're supposedly passing back through here on their way back from Canada but I wouldn't be surprised if "something comes up," and they have to change their plans.

Whatever. I've moved on. I'm now fixated on this goddamn heat. This is the worst summer ever. When will it end? I'm going to start drizzling shit myself pretty soon. I can't take much more. I'm about to impale myself on a bamboo eggplant skewer.  Goddamn.

July 24, 2002

As of this moment, "Nancy," her so-called husband Banana Nostrils (married on a beach by an actor amongst a pack of leaping dogs), and their brood of l'il translucent vegans are due to descend upon The Compound on Friday. Of course the plans will change twenty or thirty times between now and then (it takes these people half a day to decide what to get on their pizza -- a road trip is like a NASA project to them), but it looks like they'll be here this weekend sometime. If I'm unable to update the site again until Monday or Tuesday, please bear with me. I'll shoot for Friday, but that might be impossible. I'll probably be busy taking our new screen door to the repair shop, after one of those devil children hurls a bust of Herman Melville (or whatever it is they play with) through it. I'm convinced our new door will bite the dust before Monday. ...Shit, am I turning into a bitter old man or what?

July 9, 2002 

-- And speaking of sitcoms, "Nancy," her so-called husband Banana Nostrils (married on a beach by an actor), and their brood of li'l translucent vegans are planning to descend on Jeff and Toney's Bed & Breakfast Inn and Old Country Saloon in a few weeks. And you know that new $225 screen door we had installed? I'm taking bets on how long it will take before one of their crazed, undisciplined devil children hurls a frozen block of Not Dogs or Shamburgers through it, and we have to put up trash bags to keep the elements out. And afterwards we'll get to hear how it's unfortunate that our door was ruined, but you just have to expect a certain amount of acting-out among young geniuses, so bored they are with the mundane -- or some such bullshit. Then they'll ask if the trash bag is biodegradable, in a haughty tone. You think I'm joking? Mark my words; it'll happen by the end of day one.

February 11, 2002

-- On Friday we received the long-awaited family newsletter from "Nancy" and her so-called husband Banana Nostrils (married on a beach by an actor amongst a pack of leaping dogs). It's a little shorter than I'd hoped, but it still contains several quotes that I think nicely illustrate the whole Nancy/Banana Nostrils experience. Enjoy.

Happy 2002!

Please forgive what one of you affectionately (?) calls the "annual abomination." Like others who employ this keeping-in-touch device, we have been insanely busy, too much so to write the personal messages we would like. So please take this for what it is, the best we can do to say hello. And though January is past the midpoint, we figure that as long as the fruit cake is still tasty and ornaments are sold in stores (75% off), we are still "in the window" of polite timing. (we are inflicting on you what you have heaped on us -take that!)

[They also talk this way.]

First, some sad news. Our cat Mini died of cancer, peacefully and at home, just before Christmas. I spent 16 years with him--he's been there for me through a lot; he's taught me a lot. His zen-like life and death was a real gift.

[I swear this is real, I didn't add the words "zen-like" for comedic effect; I'm not that clever. BTW, this cat she's talking about had a fucking horn or something growing out of its nose. I've never seen anything quite like it. It was a mutant. All of her other animals hurled themselves in front of moving vehicles to escape one additional day of living in that freak house, but Mini stuck it out to the end. I think he was a feline vegetarian, and staunch Nader supporter.]

Keep the medical establishment out we say--as much as possible. Our greatest news of the year was the birth D-F----- on Feb 8. After four hours of labor in the early morning and under a full moon, I pushed him out after three pushes on my great grandmother's brass and iron bed. No docs, no hospital, just us, a bathtub, and a couple of incredible midwives. This was a dream come true for us. ("Nancy" was amazing. Absolutely beautiful and amazing.)

[I'm sorry...I'm getting a little emotional here... OK, I'm better now. Forgive me. I just have one question: bathtub?]

(Cue Poppa -- WRITE ABOUT S---) S---- had a difficult time after D-F's birth, but is now over that and merry and happy. He now spends his time drowning flies. He enjoys dance parties, making jigsaw puzzles of construction machines, saying no, taking D-F's water , playing town (on a green-felt table his poppa made) with trains and 3,426 Matchbox cars, saying no, watching videos of talking construction machines, saying no thanks, mamma, reading stories about construction machines, saying no, no, no, and playing the little 17th-century harpsichord we bought him.

[Drowning flies? Dance parties? A 17th Century harpsichord? Ah yes, who among us isn't experiencing a flood of memories from our own childhoods after reading this poignant passage?]

The next major development was our move across town to a sweet little house (cottage) 10 minutes walk from campus in September. We cut our square footage in half and our possessions accordingly. Downsizing in this way, simplifying, feels really good and is working out for us surprisingly well (we no longer talk to each other over cell phones).

[The logical thing to do when you have two young kids is to move to a house half the size -- that is if you have a PhD.]

Since there is no such thing as privacy in this family we had little to lose. I love being able to walk to work and getting by with just one car (since we rarely have two operable at once) is a necessity as ideal. The Jetta is now 255,000 miles, and 16 years old, the Vanagon 198,000 and 18! (Have we got a deal for you).

[Next year I hope they include their oil change information. I'd be very interested in knowing what grade of gasoline they use as well.]

This semester was very difficult since we had only 20 hours childcare in our home and we both worked full time. I mentored (nursed) 20 mostly weak students (some had no pulse) through their senior theses. I was so proud when they all passed our department's rigorous vote (they use dice), but the cost to me and all of us was great.

[Note the respect she has for her students. If you think I'm a little cruel for posting this stuff, just re-read the paragraph above.]

Meantime as Director of Women's Studies I try to stay away from budgets and politics and get to do lots of creative work. I am planning a conference in April called "Bodies in the Classroom" which will highlight intersections between feminist theory , queer theory, and disability studies. I also eked out a little time for my current research project on francophone refugees in Charleston in the 1790s which I presented at a national conference last month.

[I took English in college.]

It goes on and on, but I think you get the idea.