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   The State of My Fat Ass
                                   December 2002

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.

-- Speaking of countertops, Toney and I have had a ten year battle with her mother over the subject. She's always cutting stuff, with sharp-ass knives, directly on the counter. When we request that she use a cutting board she starts swishing around like we're fancy-lads putting on airs. We're just a little too uptown for her tastes, with our high-falutin' cutting boards and such.

There's more but I'm all out of fuel. The way things are going I probably won't be able to update regularly until the storm blows over. Just check back occasionally, and I'll do my best. I keep impeccable notes so you'll hear it all eventually; no need to worry.

Have a great holiday. Check out my great-uncle's (or some shit) classic Christmas song, if you haven't already. And I uploaded another heart-tugging Red Sovine song as well. These are my roots, and what's the holidays without family? Huh?

And that brings an end to my first update written entirely while under the influence of alcohol.  How did I do?

December 19, 2002

-- I'm not really into it. Christmas, I mean. I used to love it, all the decorations and cookies and music and crowded shops... There was always electricity in the air around the holidays, but I'm not really getting it anymore. I haven't for years, as a matter of fact, and it's kinda sad. I'm not sure of the reason. I think it might have to do with the extensive collection of responsibilities I've managed to amass: Canada-style tax bills, a mortgage, in-laws, a job that's sucking the life out of me, blah blah blah. I'm not complaining, mind you, but there's a lot more on my mind these days than when Rudolph is coming on. I wish it weren't so, but it's all gotten so complicated. Toney and I are now given to fits of nostalgia about the simple days in Atlanta when we were poor, living in a bum-laden apartment building, and having the time of our lives. It was no problem at all getting the Christmas spirit back then. I'm not hostile to the season these days, or anything like that, I just don't really notice it. Christmas, as well as every other holiday, has become just another thing to endure. Like I say, it's kinda sad.

-- I don't know why it irritates me, but I get disgusted whenever we receive another of those politically correct "holiday" cards in the mail. I'm not religious in the least, that's not the source of my aggravation, it just rubs me the wrong way that people have to walk around constantly in fear of offending someone. Most of the cards we receive from co-workers just have snowflakes on them now. At this point frozen precipitation is all that's safe. You can't mention Christmas, or have pictures of Santa or anything like that. Oh no, that might send someone over the edge with despair. When did we all become so fragile? (Heck, come to think of it, couldn't an image of a snowflake sent to people in California and other warm-weather states be considered insensitive? Shit! What have I done?!) Maybe I'm the exception, but if I received a card with a Star of David on it, or a picture of Buddha or something, I'm almost certain I wouldn't lose my shit and run out the front door of my house, wailing and tearing my clothes off in an apoplectic fit. But maybe I'm just unsophisticated. Next year I think I'll just send out white cards with black letters that say, "I'm sorry for everything."

-- I see that Sean Penn has returned from Baghdad, and has concluded that it's all America's fault and we should be ashamed of ourselves. He says we should just leave that poor man alone over there, and try being nice to people for a change. I'm still undecided though. I'm waiting to hear from Soupy Sales before I form an opinion.

-- "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.

-- Toney's mother and stepfather, Sunshine & Mumbles, are here now, but it hasn't been too bad so far. She didn't even fly off the handle about our anemic little Christmas tree. She drags Toney all over the city, from store to store, but I haven't suffered much yet. It's early though. She always makes an attempt to be on her best behavior at first, but the facade eventually collapses and the true Sunshine comes through. If my calculations are correct, we'll be ready to strangle the life out of her by seven o'clock this evening.

-- After my day in hell at work yesterday I was excited to come home and find I'd received my copy of the new Crimewave USA. This is Mark and Linette's first issue with a full-color cover and it looks great. Money well-spent. In this issue Mark interviews the two main members of the legendary Athens, GA band Pylon, Mark and Linette interview Mr. Show's David Cross, there's a report on the couple's recent trip to Italy, and a there's bunch of other good stuff as well. Oh, and you'll also find a mediocre piece in there by yours truly, about my experiences working in a WV grocery store. Ya gotta get it. Send 'em three bucks, or pick it up at Borders and/or Tower Records. You won't be sorry you did.

-- I watched a really good movie a few nights ago, called Dogfight. It's from '91, and stars River Phoenix. I'd never heard of it, but it's worth checking out. It's about a group of young Marines, on the eve of being sent to Viet Nam, running wild in San Francisco. They concoct a cruel game where they put in fifty bucks each and go out into the city alone, and whoever shows up at the bar that night with the ugliest date wins the loot. Of course River starts to become fond of his "ugly" girl and feels guilty, etc. It's a nasty premise, but it's not a nasty movie. I liked it a lot.

-- I was checking out the commentary track on one of the John Waters DVDs recently and he mentioned that he burns his fingernail and toenail clippings, as well as the hair swept off the floor after he gets a haircut. He says he's afraid devil worshipers will dig through his trash and put a curse on him. And I thought I was neurotic! Holy crap, that's taking it to a whole different level.

-- 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?

See ya on Monday, hopefully.

                    

December 16, 2002

It's that time of year again. The holiday letters are starting to trickle in. Maybe we've entered a new age bracket, matured past the point of dignity, but we're now receiving an increasing number of "family letters" from people bent on bringing us up to date on the minutiae of their everyday lives. This didn't happen when we were in our twenties. Back then we'd get cards with Ziggy on the front, or Santa taking a dump down a chimney. Now it's year-end family recaps full of over-dramatization and obvious exaggeration. According to my mother this used to be a common practice, and it's apparently making a comeback. After reading the latest of these dispatches I decided there was nothing left to do than to compose my own letter. I need to be less judgmental and make another stab at getting in step with the popular culture; I fear there's not much time left. Here's an early draft. I've attempted to utilize the accepted style, and I'd appreciate any suggestions on how I can make it better, before I send it to everyone we know. Thank you in advance for your timely assistance. I'd really like to get this to the typesetter by Wednesday. Happy holidays.

December 2002

Seasons Greetings!

I can't believe it's already been a year since we last sat down to write the Kay family update. It's funny how quickly time flies when you get a few decades under your belt! We're all twelve months closer to the satin-lined death box, I guess!! Tee hee.

2002 started off on a hopeful note as Jeff attempted to get his obesity and alcohol-dependency under control. He went out and purchased several pairs of cotton fat-boy pants at a local discount house, and began hoofing it around the neighborhood track. At first he was building up an alarming amount of heat between his considerable upper-thighs, and contemplated bringing an end to his longstanding ointment boycott. But within a few weeks the friction had died down to an acceptable level, and the horrible chafing was at a minimum. Eventually we stopped finding skin husks lying around the house.

Not only was he shedding pounds at an accelerated rate but he also struck up several fabulous friendships with the local senior citizens, cripples, and mental patients who also used the track at 6 AM every day. It didn't take long before he'd taken on an unofficial leadership role at the track. Jeff is a very influential leader.

It was all going well, and everyone was hopeful that he'd finally turned a corner toward self-respect. But, alas, it was not to be.

On an otherwise wonderful family jaunt to the Jersey Shore in early summer Jeff flew off the handle and purchased a package of twelve adult malt beverages and a large pouch of a commercial product known as Tato Skins, and it sent him free-falling end-over-end back into the black hole of inebriates and fatty snacks. By the time the leaves began abandoning the trees several months later the cotton pants had become nothing more than fancy flatulence catchers. He was back to square one, and filling all four corners of it with his considerable brawn.

2002 was also the year that Jeff's professional career finally reached its zenith. Some men achieve greatness, while others have it thrust upon them. But Jeff was middle-management material from the start! A man has not been born who is better suited for a non-stimulating position in the background, designed at making the big-boys look good! After receiving his latest promotion he overheard his colleagues whispering phrases of praise about him, such as "the Peter Principle at work" and "shit floats," and that made him feel even that much more fulfilled. He's now prepared to "ride the bitch out" until he can start collecting his pension at sixty-two. Toney often jokes that it's not easy living with such a serious goal-oriented person! Tee-hee.

Jeff also wants to mention that he has still never taken a shit at work! Twenty-two years, and counting!! Amazing.

Since moving to Pennsylvania Toney has begun an exciting new hobby of traveling the highways and back roads around Scranton and documenting the sub-par driving techniques of the natives. It's very similar to "storm chasing." She catalogs her sightings mentally and gives a full report later to anyone within earshot. The colorful way in which she describes these events delights her friends and family alike. She has become one of the nation's foremost experts on douchebaggery and goddamn sonofabitchism! We're all extremely proud of her.

Despite the embarrassment it has brought to the family, Jeff continues to maintain his world wide website known as The West Virginia Surf Report! He updates it with whimsical and humorous accounts of his daily life, often punctuated with profanity and photographs of botched medical procedures. He's our little Larry Flynt! Tee hee. While his hobby has at times caused a few feathers to be ruffled throughout the extended family, Jeff has soldiered on. Secretly we believe he "gets off on it."

His latest challenge is to figure out a way to tell his readers that he and Toney have two children that he's never mentioned in over two years. This isn't something he really wanted to go into, but his friend Mark Maynard can't seem to keep his frickin' mouth shut about it, and now it feels a little like lying. When Jeff started the site he made the decision to keep his kids out of it, for several reasons. He considers them innocents and doesn't want to drag them down into the dirt with his special brand of comedy. He feels uneasy with the thought of his young sons being presented alongside links to sites that promise to "increase your ejaculate by 600%," and introduce you to "The Fragrant World of Grillo the Clown." Also, he's afraid his website might eventually degenerate into a place for bored housewives to seek out precocious kid stories. This ain't Erma Bombeck, goddammit, is a phrase he's uttered on more than one occasion. So he's trying to figure out a tactful way in which to mention his kids ONCE, and then never bring them up again. We're confident he'll come up with something...

We're all looking forward to having a house full of love and goodwill this Christmas, as Toney's mother and stepfather will be staying with us for an extended period, and Toney's sister and her delightful family will be here for a few days as well! There is nothing like a large family gathering during the holidays!! Our good fortune is bringing tears to our eyes just thinking about it. We are truly blessed.

We hope you have a terrific holiday season and a New Year filled with happiness, love, and most of all good health!

The Kay Clan


Let me know what you think. I'll be back with a real update in a few days...

December 12, 2002

I don't have any long stories to tell today. It's been pretty uneventful for a change. I'm just chugging along, doing what I do. It's cold as a motherfucker up here, but I don't really mind. I'm a cold weather kinda guy. What I don't like, though, are slick roads and thick layers of ice that turn my world into a Fun House. I'm generally not a big fan of every little thing becoming an exercise in dadaism. But more on that later. I've also got a few mild employment worries, but I won't bore you with the details. It's probably just more of that famous Jeff Kay pessimism getting restless and shifting from one butt cheek to the other. And Christmas is bearing down. I've still got some shopping to do. As usual, I find myself short on both time and ideas. Such a pain in the ass, these celebrations of... whatever. And, of course, all the crazies will be here in just a few short days. "Nancy" and her insane soy posse, as well as Toney's mother and step-father, Sunshine & Mumbles, will shortly be stacked up in our house like the firewood of annoyance. So, you see, I'm kinda in a transitional place, on the cusp of all hell breaking loose, but not quite there yet. Today I think I'll just get caught up on a few odds 'n' ends I've been meaning to write about, if you'd be so kind as to grant me the indulgence. And no, I have no idea why I'm suddenly writing this way... What am I, Alfred the butler now?

-- They sent us home from work yesterday at two in the afternoon. An operation that's legendary for never closing shut down completely, and that in itself was a little unnerving. The general message was: big ice storms are comin' so get yer ass home now -- go! go!! -- while you still can. And they were right. It was raining when I left and the radio guy said it was thirty-three degrees, and plummeting fast. By the time I got home the trees and the grass and the sidewalks looked like they had been dipped in a heavy resin, and my back wheels were just flying around in circles at a rate of speed that didn't correspond with the amount of progress I was making. I slid into the driveway and haven't left the house since. Around nine last night I went out front to see how things were going and there was a solid layer of ice on everything, that you couldn't chip away with a chisel. It was like our entire world had been preserved inside one of those infomercial airtight freezer bags. I like cold weather and snow and all that stuff, but I hate the slick roads that goes along with it. I don't like the feeling that at any moment your shit could tilt to the right and you're up to your grapes in problems. Driving back and forth to work should be predictable and boring, not something from the imagination of Salvador Dali. Ya know? Later I'll probably have to go out there with Toney and try to lift the heavy ice shell off my truck, and move it to the side. If we're real careful not to break it, it'll be a perfect cast of my vehicle, and that's only a slight exaggeration. As they say up here, Christ!

-- Here's a pic I just took, in front of our house, that might give you a glimpse into our freezer bag world.

-- Our dog Andy ate a Brazil nut the other day. He continues to blow my mind. He also eats lima beans, and recently enjoyed a candy cane. Yes, a candy cane! A few months back, of course, he ate a stalk of celery. Have you ever known a dog to eat these types of things? I think he might be half dog, half goat. Or pig. He has a pig tail, so that might be it. He should be on television, or traveling with a circus. He's the most amazing creature since the death of my aunt's dog, the cocker spaniel that ate two apple pies and a five pound sack of raw potatoes while the family was at Dairy Queen.

-- We have a big mirror by our front door and I try not to look in it, because it depresses me too much. But earlier this week I glanced over and was horrified at what was staring back at me. "Shit," I hollered, "I look like a wax figure!" It's true. I hope it was just the lighting, but I looked like a man made of synthetic materials. Of course Toney finds this to be highly amusing and when I told her how I look like an action figure or something, she snorted and said, "What action?!" Yes, that's the kind of support one hopes for in these times. My own wife then delighted in calling me an Inaction Figure. I can't remember Judge Jackson's exact words when he married us nine years ago, but I don't think he'd approve. I really don't.

-- I've been drinking this new kind of Dr. Pepper hybrid soda at work a lot lately, and I'm really starting to dig it. It's one of those new "extreme" drinks that are said to contain energy, whatever that might mean. You know, the ones with the scary retinal-scarring labels? I'm not sure but I think it's called Dr. Pepper Severe. I have a mild concern that it'll eventually blow out the walls of my aorta, but I keep drinking it because it's so damn good. Mmmm... Dr. Pepper Severe...

-- Toney bought a new set of flannel sheets for our bed, and they make me laugh on a regular basis. She saw an ad for a one-day sale at a local department store, and they were offering this incredible deal on expensive designer sheets, so she went and checked it out. Unfortunately, though, they were picked over by the time she got there, and had to settle for what she could get her hands on. They're the color of early-morning urine and have hundreds of sheep printed all over them -- with numbers on their sides! The hell? What does it mean?! Is it some kind of reference to people counting sheep? Is that it? They're nice quality, but the design is nothing short of bizarre. I wonder if they were pitched to mental patients with severe insomnia and a taste for the finer things? Shit, talk about niche-marketing.

-- On a sad note, one of the core members of Stereolab was killed recently while riding her bike. I could make a joke about how it's a lot safer to sit around on couches all day, but I won't, out of respect for the deceased. In all seriousness, I love Stereolab and this news sucks the big one. Heck, it would even suck if I didn't love Stereolab. Ya know? Let's move on, shall we?

-- Speaking of music, I'm listening to Steve Earle's "Guitar Town" album as I type this. Damn, it's good. He's my favorite communist country and western artist.

-- 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.

-- I was watching a cable news channel the other night and something suddenly occurred to me.

-- And finally, here's a few links to get ya through the weekend...

At this site you can not only watch some swaddling guy puttering around his house on eight or nine webcams, but you can actually turn his lights off and on, and various other little actions. It might be an elaborate hoax, but it seems to work. Check it out.

Here's a collection of odd photographs that often incorporate the use of plastic army men and pubic hair. They will probably be printed on flannel sheets in the near future.

Here's a sad development. Why can't they just leave us artists alone?

And here are some directions on how to talk a person down from a bad trip. Keep it handy for the weekend.

Have a great one, yo. It's time to lift the shell off my truck, and try to get my big ass to work. See ya on Monday, God willing.


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.

-- I bought a CD burner over the weekend. I want it to back-up this website. I'm always concerned my hard drive will someday shit the bed and I'll have to rely on Earthlink to rebuild my files. That makes me nervous. I want to have it all saved on neat little discs, for the enjoyment of future generations. Ahem... So I went to Office Max to buy a burner that was in their ad, and the woman couldn't figure out how much to charge me. They didn't have the exact one they'd advertised, so they were substituting a more expensive one. It cost ten dollars more, and the mail-in rebate was for ten dollars less, but the final amount had to be the same as the ad. This utterly confused her. I kept telling her to ring it up as $69.99, but she thought I was trying to scam her. Eventually she brought the manager over, and he couldn't figure it out either. They had calculators out and were scrunching their faces all up with concentration. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. And every time I tried to help them see the light they just ignored me, convinced I was an Irish Traveler, moving from state to state pulling the old CD burner flim-flam. It was a pathetic display. Al Qaida just needs to be patient, we'll eventually do ourselves in.

-- We put up our Christmas tree this weekend too. We grew a set of balls and did it before Sunshine got here. Of course there will be hell to pay, but we did it anyway. It's a normal-sized tree and no architects had to be brought in to get it inside our house, so there's gonna be some black belt bitchin' going on. I'm not sure what we were thinking...

One positive note: it didn't fall over this year. That baby's as solid as a rock. The pickle is in place, and the tree is vertical. All is right with world. At least until Thursday, when Sunshine & Mumbles' Caravan of Bitterness rolls into town. I'm a little scared, if you want the truth.

-- Toney found a boxed-up ceramic village that her grandmother had given her a hundred years ago, and set it up in our dining room. I don't remember ever seeing it before, and it's pretty cool. The only problem is, we only had 60-watt light bulbs, so all the houses look like they have nuclear reactors inside. You can't look directly at them because the light shining through the windows will sear your retinas. I don't think there's supposed to be a blinding beam of light blazing through the chimneys, and throwing the Bat Signal onto our ceiling, but I could be wrong. It's one bright-ass village.

-- I don't know what to say about The Sopranos season finale last night. I feel mildly cheated. I know they pride themselves on unorthodox storytelling methods, but come on. This is starting to be like the Sundance Channel.

-- Finally, I was talking to a person who wishes to remain anonymous, on Saturday, via instant messenger.

"Well, I did it," he typed.

"Did what?"

"Let's just say I'm sitting here with a jockstrap and an ice pack."

"Pardon?"

Then I remembered. He'd told me a while back that he was thinking about getting a vasectomy. Again I told him that no one is rooting around in my goodies with an X-Acto knife, unless they have a gun pressed to my temple. For some reason I wanted him to know that, before proceeding. Then I asked how it had gone.

Apparently it wasn't exactly smooth sailing. He said the left side "was a bitch." They'd given him a Valium before starting, and a local anesthetic, but it didn't seem to do the job. He could feel it all, and said he'd taken the Lord's name in vain roughly 2700 times. It was far from a pleasant experience.

I asked if he had to tuck his nuts through a bedsheet, and he said he had. I don't know why that bothers me, but it does. Talk about feeling vulnerable. I just can't see myself in that position, laying on a table with with my balls shoved through fabric. Wonder if they purchase special linens with a testicle window, or if they customize them that way? The whole thing just makes me uneasy.

He also told me that the doctor is from his home state, and they talked about local politics until he started in on the left side, and all the cursing began. At this I was incredulous, and he admitted that the Valium had apparently had some effect. I think politics would go out the window, once my scrotum has been lanced. Shit.

And the part that really blows my mind is that he has to provide them a series of "samples" over the next few weeks, to insure that nothing is getting through. Apparently a few bullets remain in the chamber for a period of time, and they all have to be cleared out before proceeding. These samples have to be less than thirty minutes old, so I asked if he was going to produce them in the parking lot or in the lobby. But he said he lives less than five minutes from the clinic, so he can take care of it at home. Simply unbelievable; it goes against everything I know. Do they give you a Victoria's Secret catalog and the whole nine yards? I wouldn't be able to make eye-contact with anyone for a month. I can just see him walking in there with his vial: "Here ya go ma'am. It's fresh-squeezed, still warm to the touch. Is there a place I might lay down for a few minutes...?"

I've always said I want to experience everything, but that's not entirely true. In fact, it's a bold-faced lie. Mr. Sheep is a big fat fraud.

December 6, 2002

-- I had a full-blown adventure yesterday morning, before nine o'clock. When I got up it was snowing, but there was only a couple of inches on the ground. No big deal, I thought. I started getting ready for work. Toney warned me I'd better not go out in it, because there was plenty more on the way. Armageddon was upon us, according to The Weather Channel. But, of course, I had to go. I couldn't risk being called California Boy again by the guys at work.

It's a matter of pride for them to report to the job in any weather conditions whatsoever, and have invested in a wide array of ludicrous vehicles to help them achieve their goal. Conversely, they get almost giddy when somebody doesn't make it in. It's an automatic flipping on of the ridicule lamp. And the fact that I'm not a native Scrantonian only makes it that much more delicious for them. I am weak, you see, and they are strong. I just couldn't give them the satisfaction, the fuckers. So, if it meant sliding off a cliff, well, that's just the way it had to be.

By the time I was finished with my shower the layer of snow had doubled in size, at least. I mean, it was comin' down. Toney told me I was being an idiot, but I've heard that one so many times it just deflects like bullets off Superman's sac. As I was cleaning the snow from my truck I saw a car come down our street sideways, and slide halfway into the intersection. Just another dumbass, I muttered.

I had a little trouble getting out of our driveway and nearly took the side out of Toney's car, but once I got it going it seemed like I would be OK. I spent the first twenty-three years of my life in West Virginia, so snow is nothing new to me. I like to think I'm fairly expert at navigating it. I chugged along for a mile or so, and was slightly concerned to see that not even the main streets had been treated. A few times my rear-end tried to trade places with my front-end. I kept it under control, but just barely. It didn't take long to realize I'd made a tactical error. I needed to get my swaddling ass back home, and quick. I was going to get myself killed!

I looked for a place to turn around, someplace where I might not get into trouble. But all the parking lots looked like they should have penguins frolicking in them, so I couldn't go there. I finally turned on a side street, up a slight grade, and whenever I touched the accelerator the hood of my truck moved to the ten o'clock position. Then the whole deal shifted to the right, like I was riding on a Toyota sled, and my ass was against the curb. Fuck! Other cars were piling up behind me, waiting for me to get out of their way. Out of frustration I just floored it and eventually inched my way to safety.

I finally got myself pointed towards home, on the main drag, and was feeling pretty good about myself. I'd worked myself out of that situation like a pro. But then my shit went sideways again, and I couldn't do anything about it. I was blocking the right lane of the main thoroughfare through town. Contorted angry faces buzzed past me in SUVs, as I felt my genitalia shrink back into my body. I gunned it again and landed in the parking lot of Carpet Chalet. That was as far as I was going to make it. There was no point in fighting it. I'd reached the end of the road, and it was at an establishment that offered superior floor coverings at sensible prices.

The guy inside the store seemed cool with me leaving my truck there for a while, but made me give him my phone number "just in case something comes up." I called Toney on my cell phone but she was yacking to somebody else, probably telling them what a douchebag I am. Then I started hoofing it home. It was only about a mile, but it was frickin' snowing and cold and slippery. The first part of the journey was beside a busy road with no sidewalks and I had visions of some hotdogging asshole losing control and plowing into me. Plus the snow was piling up and there were high weeds and crap. I was walking like a retard on the moon, taking these high exaggerated steps. It was a sad sad state of affairs.

I finally made it home and Toney immediately busted out laughing. She said I had ice in my eyebrows, plus she found it highly amusing that I'd carried my lunch home. She pointed out that I'd abandoned my vehicle, but had held onto my box of sandwiches and pie. Hey, it was chicken salad. Does she really think I'm that stupid?

I called work and, of course, everybody else was there. A few had probably cruised in on hovercrafts with Dale Earnhardt license plates on the front. What was my problem, they wanted to know. My problem is that my truck is at the fuckin' Carpet Chalet buried to the frame, I shouted back. Grrr...

And, right on cue, five or ten minutes later the guy from the store called and told me I'd have to find some way to move my truck. He was paying someone to plow his parking lot, and I needed to get it out of the way.

Allen Funt. Those are the words that jumped to mind. Allen. Funt.

-- I mentioned that when my parents were in town we watched a lot of television, and a few things I witnessed have stayed with me...

Of course, we watched hours and hours of the Changing Rooms marathon, which is the original British show that inspired Trading Spaces. It was pretty interesting, just to see the subtle differences in their way of life and ours. The two things that struck me the most is how old everything seems to be in England. Have they built anything over there since, like 1700? Shit. And then there's the incredibly small size of the rooms. The bedrooms are basically a bed with four walls built around it. You could roll over in your sleep and plunge your tongue into an electrical socket! I'm not kidding, it's like something off Green Acres. Oh, and their paint looks like oatmeal. I'm not sure what that's about, but when they open a can of paint it's just a load of colorful lumps. Other than that, it appears they've been pretty thoroughly Americanized. Welcome aboard, guys!

I kept seeing a commercial for some apparatus called The Hoveround, which seems to be one of those motorized carts you see fat people riding around grocery stores on. The part that killed me was a quick clip of a couple of Weekend At Bernie's cadavers propped up in one of those deals on the edge of the Grand Canyon! I shit you not. Someone had rolled them right out to the edge, for reasons of capitalistic exploitation, leaving the poor bastards one wrong move on the joystick away from a terrifying death plunge. They only showed them from behind, probably to conceal their tears.

And we watched an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos, which I didn't even know was still on. In case you don't know, Bob Saget has now been replaced by a man even more irritating. I'm sure it took an extensive worldwide hunt, but they seem to have found their man. Maybe I don't remember the old show clearly, but it seems to me that it has now gotten a little cruel. It's not just people getting hit in the nuts with Wiffle Ball bats anymore, they have now graduated to showing people sustaining serious injury. Some of it made me squirm in my seat with discomfort. Call me a wiener, but I find it a little disconcerting to watch people getting their teeth smashed out and receiving catastrophic spinal cord injuries over an uproarious laugh track. If they had footage of Christopher Reeve falling off that horse, they'd probably set it to whimsical music and name it the week's $10,000 winner. We're very near the end. You know that, right?

-- Lucas sent me this pic on my birthday. I'm not sure how he found "Nancy," but I'm much obliged. Thanks dude!

-- I received this email the other day. If anyone could help me figure it out, I'd really appreciate it.

Hi Dennyse;

I became a poet up on Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver five years ago and have written thirteen books of poetry. I am now living in Powell River and working on getting my second book of poetry, "Waiting for Tamara" published by Multi-Cultural Books. Would you like me to submit some of my poetry? If I don't get a reply from you in the next while I will delete all your messages from my files. Merry Christmas.

Yours truly;

Daniel

Hey, I wonder if that Multi-Cultural Books would be interested in a few of my works?!

-- Here's a long, firm list of penis euphemisms.

-- And here's a strange little piece about Elvis Costello and Paul Westerberg. "maíamÖgently take the Westerberg disc from him and place it somewhere that he canít find it for a few hours."

-- Finally, The Sopranos fourth season ends this Sunday. A big 75-minute episode! The commercials are hilarious. They say something like... the shocking end to another season of Family Hour -- as two men dressed in black are shown repeatedly firing guns into a sport utility vehicle at close range. I love it. For the record, I'm putting my money on Adrianna as the one who gets whacked. That chick is on thin ice. My second guess would be Melfi. We'll see, won't we? Oh, we'll see, real good.

Have a great weekend, folks.

                           

December 3, 2002

I hope everyone had a great holiday. My parents were in town and it was pleasant enough, but you get a little stir-crazy after a while. Ya know? Well, I do, anyway; I think Toney believes Iím the only one. Thereís an inordinate amount of just sitting around when parental visitors are in the house, and Iím not really equipped for that kind of ďfun.Ē My brain starts to boil over when critical mass is reached, usually late in the afternoon during day two, when everybodyís buried in their chair and one person is listlessly flipping through the TV channels, just hoping for the best. It makes me insane -- itís like purgatory. Dear God, itís a dog show. This is what it's come to. Iím in Scranton, Pennsylvania watching a dog show... But, to be fair, it wasnít like that all the time. We had some fun too. Here are a few random notes, scattered and not necessarily in chronological order, about Thanksgiving at the Surf Report CompoundÖ

-- We have a fake fireplace in our house, installed by the previous owners, which weíd never used. It sits in the corner of the living room, and is apparently powered by natural gas or some shit. I donít know anything about it, so Iíve stayed away. Call me a pussy but Iím not a big fan of rolling structural fires. I worked with a guy in Atlanta who reportedly went into his basement drunk one night to re-light the pilot light in his furnace, and the thing exploded and fucked up his shit. If you can believe the stories that were told about the incident, his pubes were completely burnt off - and never came back! That simply wonít do. Iíve told Toney that if we really want the effects of a fire we can just close our eyes and listen to the gentle rustling of my Fritos bag.

But, as could be predicted, my Dad has been intrigued by that contraption since day one, and finally began rooting around in there during the early part of this visit. It took him a while to get it going, probably because three or four years have passed since it was last used, but he eventually had it roaring. I have to admit it was kinda cool to have a fire, fake or not, in our living room. It felt a little rustic, especially with the snow falling outside.

But then came the terrible, life-draining stench.

Iím not sure what was burning off, but it was metallic in nature, and made my throat sore and my eyes water. It just kept getting worse and worse, and I was sure theyíd find our corpses the next week still staring at the absurd dogs, with big bowls of party mix balanced on our lifeless laps.

I was freaking, convinced we were breathing pure carbon monoxide, and finally started flinging open the windows, in a last-ditch effort to save our lives. The curtains were standing straight out because of the high winds, and snow was flying all over the house. Of course, for this I was ridiculed and laughed at, like countless men of vision before me. Iíll be damned if I fire up that Kevorkian box again. Iíve still got plenty of semen humor left to write. I'm not going to be done in by a set of decorative novelty logs.

-- We had the Macyís Thanksgiving Day Parade on in the background Thursday morning, and it was incredibly bad. I never much liked it, even as a kid, and by now itís almost unbearable. Some of the floats are kind of interesting, but all that singing by unknown hacks makes me sad in my soul. Maybe Iím out of touch, but I didnít recognize a single person in that parade, except Santa. And he didn't even look quite right. It was just a bunch of twenty-five year old quasi-poofters in turtle-necks and frizzy hair, singing in that nasally up-and-down quiver thatís all the rage these days. It sounds like a swarm of bees doing show tunes, and it makes me so very sad. They say rock Ďní roll will never die, but it appears it's currently on a ventilator, and the relatives have been called in. That sonofabitch Cobain just had to go and kill himself, didnít he? Now look whatís happened.

-- The first African-American balloon was even a let-down. It was Bill Cosby as a kid, I think. A cartoon character based on a comedian. I was hoping for Thurgood Marshall, or Condoleeza Rice, or something a little more dignified. Now that wouldíve been something to see! A giant rubberized Justice Marshall on ropes, majestically moving around the corner in a dark business suit...  It would've salvaged the whole deal.

-- On ďBlack FridayĒ we went to the mall and submerged ourselves into the middle of that mess. If the economy is in the shitter then Iím the prime minister of Canada. Holy crap. It was nearly impossible to walk. A few times I believe I was actually lifted off the floor by the crowd and moved a few yards against my will. It was like a Kiss concert - the makeup on some of the women was even similar! My Dad and I backed up against a storefront, to get out of the flow, as Toney and my Mom fought their way into a candle store. For a second I forgot where I was and crossed my feet as I waited. Big mistake. That simple maneuver almost caused a catastrophe, as a big white box was launched from a womanís arms, and dozens of people started rear-ending each other in a chain reaction that I feared would never end. Nobody hit the floor, but there were a couple of close calls. I tried to look casual and unaware of what was going on. I think I even whistled.

Later we stepped aside again and my Dad pointed out a Salvation Army guy sitting by the JC Penney entrance. He was in a folding chair and looked like he was wearing a neck brace, but it was just an alarmingly wide roll of super-white neck fat. ďWatch him,Ē Dad said, and the guy kept dozing off with his mouth hanging open. His head would flop forward, then heíd snap awake, give his little bell a half-assed shake, and drift off again. He kept doing this and we were laughing our asses off. Finally he woke up and caught us staring and laughing, and I suddenly became deeply interested in the time, even though I wasn't wearing a watch. I believe I even furrowed my brow at how late it was getting.

-- In what's become a Thanksgiving tradition in the Kay family, my mother chased me around the house again with that dripping sack of grossness that's tucked inside the turkey's "cavity," and plenty of hilarity ensued. It's fun to torture the people with the most hang-ups, isn't it? What's in that sack, anyway? Necks? Feet? Balls? Do they put it in there because they think people might actually want it? Do they think we might desire a big steaming pot of testicle gumbo, or something? It's goddamn disgusting.

-- Since there were so many desserts in the house, and because it was colder than the teets of Hillary Clinton outside, my Mom kept brewing up big pots of coffee late in the day. Then she'd get irritated when I wouldn't have any. I tried to explain to her that I start the day with hot liquids, but once the transition to cold has been made there's no turning back. You can't just jump from hot to cold, then back to hot again, all willy-nilly. It goes against nature. There has to be an order to things, or else it's anarchy. She just looked at me with what appeared to be an expression of pity.

-- Speaking of coffee, I was cranking on the stuff Saturday morning, when I went with my Mom and Toney to Sears in the mall. They wanted to pick up some kitchen gadget that appeared in their ad. I think it was a forty-dollar device that chops onions, but who the hell knows? I just leapt at any chance to get out of the house. As I said, I was flying on caffeine and was in a smart-ass mood. I was being highly critical of all that I surveyed, and was having a hell of a good time. I wish I had it all on tape, because I think it was some of my best work. I got good mileage out of a rolling suitcase-like device in which you're supposed to transport casseroles(?!). The box showed it loaded with lasagnas! How bizarre is that? And I launched into a riff about George Foreman grills that was simply a work of art. I could take it on the road, or maybe build a one-man show around it, if I could just remember it all. It culminated with the phrase: "In 2003 I hope to do all of our cooking on a slant." Yes, magic was in the air at Sears on Saturday morning.

-- On Thursday I was in the kitchen rooting around in our collection of tins, for cookies or fudge or something packed with vitamins, when a high-pitched wail -- and I mean a wail -- came from the living room. It was Toney, and I've never heard a noise like that, outside the Friday the 13th movies. I ran in there and her head was thrown back in a grimace, and her back was all arched. Holy shit! I thought she was having a stroke. "My knee!" she gasped, "Pop it back in!!" What in the honeybaked hell?! Pop it back in?? What am I, Trapper John? I didn't know whether to shit or wax my car.

She injured her knee when we lived in California and it used to give her a lot of trouble, and would occasionally just pop out of socket, and cause her an episode of blinding pain. The doctors were never able to help, and one even insinuated that she was exaggerating the problem. How can you exaggerate a knee out of its socket? And why would you want to? But it hadn't happened in years, and I'd almost forgotten about it. Scary. Even scarier than the dripping sack.

Her doctor here immediately scheduled an MRI, so we might finally get to the bottom of the problem. Goddamn California doctors. It's a wonder they didn't tell her to rub a mossy log on it.

-- Saturday was my fortieth birthday, and it wasn't as traumatic as I'd feared. When I think about it my intestines clinch up, so I try not to think about it. I swear I feel like I should be about thirty; I lost a decade somewhere. It was my twenties -- ten big years of nothing but fucking off. If I could just have them back, I could rule the world... or something. I agonize about it several times a week. But forty isn't the end of the road. Right? Hopefully I've still got a few years left -- no point in looking backwards. Raymond Chandler had a long career as an oil executive, and an even longer one as a drunk, before becoming one of the most famous people in the world in his fifties. I don't want to make a big deal out of this birthday. I've gotta play with the cards left in my hand. Screw it. It's just numbers. And gray hair and frequent urination and prostate exams and....

-- One of the gifts my parents gave me is this picture, which they had made from one my grandfather's old deteriorating slides. I love it. It's the family, circa 1965. I'm the one on the left, in the sporty socks. Look at my parents! They were twenty-three. When I was that age I was working at getting the most amplification possible out of my flatulence, and seeing what new tricks my wiener could do. This is one of my favorite pictures, and now it's preserved and hanging above my head in the bunker. A perfect gift.

Against great odds, we're all still alive and kicking, and for all the whining I do, I also think about how lucky I've been. I have a great family, and for that I'm sincerely thankful. A lot of people never get to experience what I take for granted -- so I try not to take it for granted. I'm a lucky old fuck, and that's a fact. 

...I'm also thankful that my Dad ditched that haircut somewhere along the way. Yowza.

Believe it or not, there's more, but I'm gonna have to end it right there. My voicemail at work is probably already filling up with messages from ball-baby bitches, begging me to cover up their mistakes. See ya in a few days.

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