la Ketch

my life story

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


When the judges walked into the room at the dinner before the Coronation Ceremony, they didn’t seem to know where they were supposed to sit or what they were supposed to do. All of us on the court had been nervously talking to each other in a group, “I luuuuv your dress. Your hair looks SOO BIG!” etc. When I saw that the judges were a bit lost, I did what any sane and rational person would do; I walked over and introduced myself. They seemed to really appreciate it. I showed them where the Stepford Wives Volunteer Librarian in charge was and walked back to the others. I could immediately sense disapproval. Someone said, “Isn’t that cheating?” Um I thought it was just being polite.

When we sat down at dinner, the judges asked us a lot of different questions. The one I remember specifically had to do with Anita Hill, which was the hot button topic at the time. I went into this whole diatribe about how I hoped that Clarence Thomas did sexually harass her because if he’s innocent this is going to look really bad for women’s rights. Now this is a very conservative part of the country and such a response could have gotten me into hot water under normal circumstances but in this case I was coming out on top because the other girls didn’t even know who Anita Hill was. They were total airheads. I take that back, one of them wasn’t. She was very smart, especially academically. She was the valedictorian actually and a star athlete and extremely kind and likeable but she was also painfully shy and spoke so softly that you barely hear her. I was definitely not the prettiest girl on the court. I wasn’t the best in school and I wasn’t an athlete at all but I was articulate and I paid attention to current events and that’s why I won – plain and simple. It was so easy; I could have done it in with a bag on my head. A bag with the mouth cut out of it.

As soon as the dinner was over I started to notice that the other girls were starting to alienate me. It was very sudden and deliberate. I guess it was a knee jerk reaction to the fact that I was KICKING THEIR ASSES. We all got changed into our formal wear at the gym in the locker rooms. I was clued into the alienation when they moved to a separate area of the locker room from me and proceeded to whisper about me in an obvious way. It was purely ridiculous.

Once we had used at least two cans of Aqua Net each, Stepford Wives Volunteer Librarian came in. She told us that she has very special news. It turns out that secretly, something that she does every year for the contestants is, ten minutes before the program starts, she tells you what question they are going to ask you. This way you have a moment to think about your reply. I’m sure she started doing this because there were too many years of the contestants completely choking, stammering and staring off into space, etc. She was in charge of the event and she had to acknowledge that beyond the competition, there was an entertainment quality to the show and she needed to cater to it. She gave us our questions but she made us promise not to tell. We promised.

I began composing my response immediately. I decided what I would say and then I practiced it over and over again so that it sounded natural. The other girls got their questions too but they continued to do their hair, talk about the party afterwards, how nervous they were, etc. They did not practice their answers and consequently, they SUCKED IT.

We each go out there one at a time. We walk the long walk down the long walkway which is really just butcher paper lined with Christmas lights. As we are walking, trying not to fall over from moving so slowly, someone is reading our life story essay over the sound system. When we get to the stage they ask us our question.

My question: La Ketch, what does the phrase, "Be the Best that you can Be." mean to you and why?

Pretty stupid ass question right? It's almost the motto of the US Army.

My Answer: “Thank you for your question. I think that in today’s society there is too much emphasis being put on being the BEST when the emphasis should be put on being the best that you can BE. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Ryan always told me, “It’s better to aim for the moon and miss than aim for the gutter and hit it.” I’ve tried to aim for the moon and I know that if I continue to do so, I will hit it more often than I miss. Thank you.”

That’s what I said pretty much verbatim. Does it sound rehearsed? Yes. Does it make any sense? Not at all. It was however clear, concise and spoken with confidence and ease from the diaphragm. The other responses were choked, stammering, filled with “um” and leg shifting and your normal stuff that you get from people who are terrified of public speaking.

Once we’ve all gone, we sit on the side of the stage and the Jazz Choir sings some songs and then the judges come back out and they announce the winner. I knew I was going to win. I knew it. Still, when they announced my name, I did a little yelp, doubled over, put my hands up to my face and I started to cry. They handed me a huge bouquet of roses and they put a crown on my head and I just cried and cried. I waved at the crowd, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” The crowd sort of clapped robotically. I was clearly not the favorite. Others would have gotten louder cheers, I’m sure. With me, there was sort of this “hmp, figures” murmuring mixed with in with clapping but I could hear Mag screaming my name above everyone. She was screaming so loud for me and I felt totally awesome. I was really happy to win. Wining feels good and I felt that I had deserved to be Queen.

After the ceremony all of the girls (except for the valedictorian who did not have a cruel bone in her body) were entirely cold to me. There was a big party at one of the girls’ houses, hosted by her parents. It was billed as a “Champagne Celebration.” I thought I was going to it afterwards like everyone else. I couldn't wait to walk around with that goddamned crown on my head. I went up to the group to see when they were leaving and how everyone was getting there and the girl who was having the party said to me, “See you tomorrow La Ketch.” Huh. Uninvited. Ok. I went back to my house with Mag and hung out with her and my mom. It was very anticlimactic. I had expected my world tour to begin immediately. I thought I would be acting as a UN Ambassador or going to charity events like Miss America. But I wasn’t Miss America. I was EHS Homecoming Queen. So I went to bed early.

As a side note, I recently heard that the girl who uninvited me to her party is still living in the Claw and has developed a serious crystal meth problem. I heard that she had to be rescued out of her apartment after locking herself in there because she thought the devil was chasing her. The devil probably was chasing her. There are evil spirits running rampant in that town. Or maybe she went and saw the “Exorcism of Emily Rose” and just got really freaked out by it like Eve did.

Friday, September 23, 2005

every body run - part 2

Being on the Homecoming Court was the most ridiculous, long and drawn out circus I have ever been a part of. I couldn’t believe how over the top it was even when it was happening. You had to get like 10 outfits, one for each separate event. It was like being in Miss America. I thought the whole thing was completely stupid. But that didn't stop me from wanting to win.

First they get everyone on the court together and talk about how it’s all going to go down. There’s this volunteer librarian who is like out of the Stepford Wives or something and she walks you through it, tells you what to expect. She pretends that it’s all such a big honor and that we are all very special people because we are so fucking popular. She is ridiculous. We got lessons on etiquette, table manners, which fork to use, etc. because part of it is that you have to sit and have a formal dinner with the judges. Also, you have to write an essay that is the story of your life. As you can imagine, mine was quite long and I had trouble editing it. Eventually, I did get it down to an acceptable length and it ended up being one of the more impressive life stories read. Pretty much because of the tragedy. It was the most dramatic and it got me major dead dad sympathy points.

The horrible thing is that one of the other people on the court, one of the guys, his mother had been murdered by his father when he was a little boy, in a very gruesome way and had watched it happen and everyone knew about this. He was adopted by the Priest of the most popular Presbyterian Church in town and had been living as a member of his family ever since. He was and I’m sure still is, one of the funniest people I have ever known in my life. He was a much better person than I will ever be because he had developed this sense of humor that was so razor sharp, it could cut through anything life handed to him. I felt so badly for him because he couldn’t talk about his tragedy in his life story essay. It was too gruesome and it would make everyone feel bad. He kept asking me, “How can I talk about this?” He wasn’t really able to find a good way to do it and consequently, he missed out on his dead mom sympathy points because the judges came from a different town and they weren’t familiar with his situation. I think he didn’t win King because he just sort of came across as this funny jokester. He made everyone laugh but they wanted someone with DEPTH. Luckily, I was really, really, really deep.

Homecoming Festivities Breakdown:

Thursday night:

Dinner with the judges (OUTFIT ONE: I wore a white silk suit, skirt and heels with pearl accessories, my hair was very long and straight again. The other girls all had perms) The dinner took place at the only fancy restaurant in town. You sat with your partner and the judges rotated asking you various questions as they went along and making notes on how you responded and which fork you used.

Coronation Ceremony (OUTFIT TWO: I wore this really great dress actually, very different from everyone else because I borrowed it from my cousin in California. She wore it to her own homecoming coronation the year before. It was black and strapless. It came to my knees but it had this like bustle attached to the back which was really a train that went all the way to the floor and drug behind me. It sounds stupid but it was really beautiful. Most importantly, it was very different than what the other girls were wearing which were huge, brightly colored, puffy dresses.) The whole school comes to this. You have to walk from the back of the gym up to the stage and while you are walking someone reads your life story that you wrote, in first person, sort of like a voice over as you are walking. You have to walk very, very slowly because it is long. When you get to the stage, they ask you a question and you have to answer it. Then the judges go away, the Jazz Chior sings some songs and the the judges come back out and announce the winner.

Friday afternoon:

Pep Assembly (OUTFIT 3: I wore light blue acid wash Guess Jeans with zippers on the side. White high top Reebok tennis shoes and a white angora sweater with some pink and blue designs on it. It was starting to get chilly). I could barely sit and be a part of it because I was running around backstage with a walkie talkie barking orders at everyone. When it was my turn to come out I was like, “Cue the Queen, Cue the Queen and GO Queen!” “Um, that’s you La Ketch.” “Oh yeah. Shit!” Then I walked out. Mostly people cheered for me but I could hear a few boos. A smattering of them. This should have been my first clue that I had enemies. My first warning to watch my step.

Parade (SAME OUTFIT) Everyone on the court rode in convertibles, with our names printed in big letters on posters hanging off the side. I rode with the King and on the side of our car it said, “Homecoming King (his name) and Queen La Ketch”. I wore the crown and carried flowers. We waved at the crowd (elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist…).

Friday Night:

The Big Game: (SAME OUTFIT) I was AWOL for the game because I was back at the gym decorating for the dance. We were planning on getting to the game before half time for the festivities but the clock in the gym was wrong and I miss calculated the time. They announced the “Homecoming King” he came out and when they announced the “Homecoming Queen” I did not come out. This was before the avid use of cell phones and no one knew where I was. The King had to ride around the field in a convertable by himself. Rumors were flying about my whereabouts. My mom was freaking. She thought I had been killed. The other girls on the court were probably praying that I had been killed that they would have another shot at it. When I finally did show up, they let me march on to the field between plays with a microphone. I said, “I’m so sorry everyone but in addition to being your Homecoming Queen, I am also the Student Body President and I was at the gym decorating for the dance tomorrow. The clock was wrong and I miscalculated the time. If there is anyone that isn’t doing anything tonight, we could sure use your help transforming the gym into ‘Cinderella’s Ball’. Come on out and help!” Then I went back to the gym and continued to decorate.

Saturday Night:

The Dance (OUTFIT FOUR: I wore a black velvet strapless dress that had a huge hot pink bow at the waist. I curled my hair to look like Barbie) I ended up going to the dance with a friend of mine. He was super sweet, a quiet guy. The problem was that his girlfriend, who was three years older and in college, had been killed in a drinking and driving accident two days before the dance. He decided to go anyway but needless to say, he was a little down. It was a very sad situation. He was nice to go with me anyway but he said like two words all night. I couldn’t believe he went. I just kept asking him, “Are you okay? Do you want to leave?” and he would say, “I’m fine. No, I’ll stay.” The other sort of sad thing that happened at the dance was that at one point the court comes out and dances to the theme song (“When You Wish Upon a Star” as sung by Jiminy Cricket of course). I danced with the King and all of the other court people danced with someone on the court. After this, there was another dance and all of guys dance with their moms and all the girls danced with their dads. I didn’t have a dad and no one asked me to dance so I just stood there for a second and then, I walked away. The next year my sister was on the Senior Prom Court and the same exact thing happened to her.

So it was four outfits total, not ten but I already told you about my propensity towards exaggeration, so you should have divided by two to get the actual number, which would have been five but that’s close enough.

I can’t write anymore today because my boss is giving me looks. Looks like, “Gee you are typing really fast for someone working on a spreadsheet.” I will write more tomorrow because I think I should probably go back now and color in the details of the Coronation Ceremony. That is where I actually was crowned and there is a lot of backstage backstabbing crap that you might find interesting. I will also run by you my theory on why I won which basically boils down to the fact that I didn’t have the IQ of a cabbage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

everybody run - part 1

I spent most of the summer of ’91 mapping out my plans for Senior year. I was especially obsessing on the upcoming Homecoming festivities. Homecoming was a big, big deal in the Claw. There was a big parade downtown, alumni got involved and of course there was the big Football Game and there was the Coronation Ceremony and there was the Dance. The Coronation Ceremony took place the night before the big Game, which took place the night before the Dance. It was a huge weekend, bigger than any other and I was basically in charge.

My first turn against the grain had to do with the theme. I had gotten it into my head sometime around July that the theme should be Disney. It was probably a subconscious throwback to my California days. I practically grew up in Disneyland, went there all the time as a kid and I loved it. Ok, I still do love Disneyland. I DO. Fucking sue me. It’s the Happiest Place on Earth. And that was the Homecoming theme I wanted, “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Unfortunately, most people wanted something a bit more traditional, like, “Stairway to Heaven” or “Magic Carpet Ride” or “Two Tickets to Paradise”. CLICHES!!! Those unimaginative bastards.

I stood in front of the uproar that was the student council meeting where we were to vote on the Homecoming theme, with a gavel in my hand and fire in my eyes. My loyal Student Council members (Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc.) were at my side. Each home room could elect one representative and they all showed up at the meeting to vote. The Student Council sat behind a table at the front of the stage and the home room reps sat in the auditorium seats facing us. I stood behind a podium making my case. The room was in a state of complete chaos. I SLAMMED that gavel down and demanded order.

“Order! order, ORDER!!!! (They finally simmer down) Now, I don’t think everyone has thought this through as much as I have. You are all talking about songs you like, songs by Led Zepplin (cheers erupt from the gallery) and that’s great! But I’m inviting you to think BEYOND one, single, solitary, limiting song. We need to consider other things here, things that the theme will effect, things like the parade float decorations and dance decorations and the PEP ASSEMBLY, which includes skits and the cheerleader’s dances - all of it. We need to start thinking BIG PICTURE people. If we do Disney, a whole world is opened up to us. We can have "Cinderella’s Ball" for the dance and "Pirate’s of the Caribbean" for a float. Imagine it! Each of the floats could be different and unique. We could have a "Little Mermaid" Float and a "Country Bear Jamboree" Float and a "Haunted House" Float and a "Space Mountain" Float. Don’t you see how the possibilities are endless? If we do, “Stairway to Heaven” (Cheers erupt once again) Order! ORDER! ORDER!!! (They finally simmer down), if we do something like that, then we are stuck with STAIRS and HEAVEN for everything. It’s like tons of cotton balls and angel wings and staircases leading into nothing and what else? It’s so boring and redundant. We can’t consider it for one second longer! We will not consider it for one second longer!” I was red in the face by then. My mind was made up and everyone knew there was going to be no arguing with me. My husband can relate to the situation these poor people were in.

It was unanimous. The theme would be Disney – The Happiest Place on Earth. Everyone voted for it but no one wanted it. I had bullied them. They all went out of the meeting and talked shit about what an out of control tyrant I was, how I had forced them all to vote on this stupid, crappy, baby theme. Fuck ‘em, I didn’t care. They would see how it would all turn our brilliantly. It was going to be awesome.

So with all of this going on, all of the planning, I didn’t really have too much time to think about the actual Homecoming Court. Of course, I had considered that I might get nominated being the RULER OF THE ENTIRE SCHOOL and everything. But it wasn’t like cheerleading for me. I didn’t sit up nights thinking about it.

The Homecoming Court works differently at different schools. At our school, only seniors could be on the court. There were ten of us – five girls / five boys. The entire school voted, so it was a popularity contest in the strongest sense. They voted for the court but an outside, impartial panel of judges was brought in to pick the actual King and Queen.

The Homecoming King and Queen was the biggest thing you could be at this school, the top rung of the ladder. The Senior Prom King and Queen were mere rejects. Even being on the Homecoming Court and not making King or Queen was better than being the Prom King or Queen because once you were on Homecoming Court, you were disqualified from being on Senior Prom Court and being on Homecoming was better because it happened first and the whole town was involved. Senior Prom was limited to just the school. Homecoming was much bigger. In a very, very, very small way.

I was almost too busy to even pay attention to the fact that the voting was happening on the day that they did. I’m sure I voted but I put it at the back of my mind. They announced the Homecoming Court over the intercom system, just like they had the presidency. When I heard my name, I was pretty excited (what to wear, what to wear, what to wear.....) but I was still way more concerned about the Pep Assembly. I was constructing what I wanted to be the most spectacular theatrical event the school had ever seen. It would be the Happiest Place On Earth alright. Being on the Homecoming Court was just sort of a side dish, until I began to realize how easy it would be for me to actually win.

(Going to bed. More tomorrow. This one could take a few parts. Hang in there loyal subjects. I know this story seems a little annoying because I'm such hot shit and everything but what comes up must come down ...)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Pick Flick

If you have seen the movie “Election” then you don’t really need to read this entry. My campaign for Student Body President resembled that film so closely that it was eerie for me to watch it. The only differences are: I didn’t sleep with any of my teachers, I didn’t get good grades and I won the election. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend that you do because it’s really good except I sort of just gave away the ending. Shit. Sorry about that. I'M SORRY PETE! I'm sure Pete has seen it. Still, I'm sure he wil be upset based on principal.

In my previous post I said that my Arch Nemesis joined the race for Student Body President two days before the election. That was an exaggeration. I think it was more like a week. I had to scramble but there was still time. I should tell you that I’m rather prone to exaggeration. If I throw out a number to describe something you can just divide by two and find that actual number. Or in this case, multiply times three.

I was running unopposed. The election was a week or so away and I had it in the bag. I had spent most of my junior year being groomed to be president actually. Our principal was this really sweet man, super great guy, everyone loved him. He has since passed away. I said some words at his funeral. A lot of the students were there. He is greatly missed. Anyway, he and I were friends and he was sort of a father figure to me which was something I really needed at the time, for obvious reasons if you've been following along. That was one of the most difficult parts about getting busted and having to resign, knowing that I had disappointed him. He really wanted me to go into politics. He called me into his office and sat me down and told me how this world needed more female politicians and that I was a born leader. He said that he didn’t see anyone else in my class that would make a good Student Body President, it had to be me. It was my destiny to lead the students of EHS into 1992. I was inspired. He had me convinced. It didn’t take much.

So there I was walking down the hall, just waiting for my destiny to be handed to me in a silver ballot box and who do I run into? You guessed it, none other than my Arch Nemesis herself. My Arch Nemesis was getting something out of her locker. Now that I think of it, she was probably pretending to get something out of her locker. The whole thing seems very staged in retrospect. She slammed her locker door shut in a dramatic way and then with the theme to “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” playing somewhere off in the distance, she turned to me and said, “Well I’ve done it. It may be stupid of me to think I have a chance but I’m doing it anyway. I’m going to try and do the impossible. I got all of the signatures I need. I turned them in. I’m on the ballot. I’m running against you La Ketch. You better start working on your speech.” Then she stomped away with such triumphant vigor, I just knew I was fucked. I was paralysed. I think I squeaked something out after her like, “That’s great! Good Luck!” But on the inside I was like, “Fuck Fuck Fuck whatdoido whatdoido whatdoido ...”

I had to act and I had to act fast. I had no campaign. I needed a design, a concept, a speech and most importantly - I needed posters. I whipped myself into an absolute frenzy. Recruiting my usual suspects as my campaign team, I set off to take back my destiny. First, I forced my mom to throw me a huge pizza party. For real, I invited the entire school over to my house for free pizza, so totally slimy. It was very effective. We all ate pizza and made posters for the campaign. These people could be bought. Still, not everyone showed up. It was mostly people who would vote for me anyway. I knew I needed to cast my net much, much wider.
What I did then was I went around and sat at each and every table in the cafeteria and talked to every student in the school. I went beyond the cafeteria even to the band room, behind the bleachers, out by the picnic tables. I went to the people. It was grass roots. It took me three days and I have say that I still feel that this was a pretty brilliant strategy on my part. Mind you, the school was not that big. We’ve already established the big fish small pond metaphor but it was no easy feat. I sat with the jocks, the nerds the loners, the rebels the prissy girls, the smart girls, everyone. I sat with everyone and I just talked to them. My absolute favorites were the butt rockers – the “Hessians” as we called them. Long Mullets, pot smokers, Metallica T-shirts, the burn outs, you know who I’m talking about. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey you guys, I’m La Ketch.
Hessian Leader: We know who you are.
Me: Did you know that I’m running for Student Body President?
Hessian Leader: Yeah, man your posters are like all over the school.
Me: Oh good, I’m glad you’ve seen them. Listen I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I just wanted to ask you guys a few questions…
Hessian Leader: Why are you sitting here?
Me: Well that’s what I was saying, I just wanted to sit down and talk to you guys, I mean I feel like I’ve never really gotten a chance to talk to you guys before and I just wonder you know, what is it that YOU want out of your president? What do you hope your President will do for you?
Hessian Leader: Do you even know my name?
Me: Of course (Hessian Leader’s Name) you’re in my history class.
Hessian Leader: You know my name. That is so crazy. You know what? You’re cool. I swear to God, I hate every single one of these stupid motherfuckers that go to this stupid fucking school but you’re different. Not one of those fucking assholes would ever come over here and sit with us because they're so fucking into themselves. I’ve never voted once for anything but I’m going to vote for you and I’m going to make sure that all of my friends vote for you too.
Me: ohmygod thank you so much! That would be really cool. I think you guys are great and I want to be your friend. Just tell me one thing that you want your Student Body President to be.
Hessian Leader: I guess we don’t want to go to pep assemblies because they suck.
Me: I totally agree but if I’m the student body president they won’t suck. They will be amazing. Do you guys think you could help me hand out fliers?
Hessian Leader: Give me all of them. I'll start handing them out right now.

And he did. They all did. The whole table was on my team. It was like a John Hughes movie. They would like cheer me in the hall. It was like getting an escort from the Hells Angels or something.

I went around to every table like this and I asked people what they wanted and then I incorporated those things into my posters and eventually into my speech. My posters were really simple. They just had my first name really big and underneath the name they would say something that I was, something that someone had told me they wanted me to be:

is smart.

has creative ideas.

cares about you.

listens to Metallica.

And on and on like this. These posters covered every square inch of wall in the entire school. My hands had blisters from making them.

When it came time for the big speech, I was still really nervous. I knew I had run an awesome campaign and the my Arch Nemesis had done nothing to get her name out there, most people barely knew who she was but I was still afraid. She really scared me on a personal level but what scared me the most was the idea of LOSING to her.

Luckily I was friends with the current President and she was introducing the speeches. She told me that she would have my Arch Nemesis go first so that I would be fresh in everyone’s mind when they went off to vote and also so that I could think on my feet and come back with a rebuttal if she started throwing wild punches. It wasn’t a debate. We only got one chance to speak.

My Arch Nemesis came out like a wild bull. I had my speech printed on little cards but she had no cards, she didn’t need them. She was speaking from her GUT. She pulled the mic off the stand like a rock star and walked right up to the foot of the bleachers, “Is anyone else sick and tired of this place?! It’s time for some CHANGE! I’m going to turn this place on its head. NO MORE BORING STUDENT COUNCIL MEETINGS. NO MORE BORING PEP ASSEMBLIES. NO MORE STUPID ACTIVITES AT LUNCH.” I scanned the crowd. Were people were listening? You bet they were. I was shitting my pants. Then she started in on me, making fun of me. “I may not have loooong blooooonde hair, I may not have nice, expeeeeensiiive clothes, I may not be a cheeeeeeeerleader but I can make some changes around here, etc….” She was an anarchist. It was invigorating. For a second, I considered voting for her myself but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let her win. This was MY DESTINY not hers. I had been training for this and she had done nothing to prepare. She was making promises that she had no idea how to keep and I recognized it. I recognized it because I was about to do the same thing.

I kept to the speech I had written for the most part. It just so happened that it was completely dichotomous to hers. I explained that things were going really well at EHS. There was nothing that needed to change. I would continue to follow the clear path and rich traditions that had been laid down by my predecessors. I had experience. I had wanted to be their president since I walked in the door. This wasn’t something I just woke up and decided to do. My greatest tactic was to single out people in the audience. I said, “I want to be a leader for the same reason that (track star’s name here) wants to run and (rock star’s name here) wants to play drums and (basketball star’s name here) wants to slam dunk. I want to be a leader because I’m good at it." Then I worked in all of the things the students at EHS had told me they wanted me to be at the lunch tables. “I am smart, I am courageous. I wear Guess Jeans. I have school spirit. I am punctual. I have good table manners. I am friendly. I get good grades,” lies were spewing out of my mouth like there was no tomorrow. I was whatever they wanted me to be. I was La Ketch. Vote for me. VOTE FOR ME YOU GOD DAMNED HICK BASTARDS!!!

I definitely got more applause than she did. As soon as it was over, the student council advisor said to me, “Well I think you did it. She gave a pretty good speech, had me worried for a bit but I think you got 'em back.” I was not convinced. I was sick with worry. The voting took place at lunch. I walked around begging everyone to vote. My voice said, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just vote! Let your voice be heard!” But my eyes said, “PLEASE Vote for me! Please vote for me motherfucker or you will regret it.”

After lunch, when they were counting ballots, I couldn’t sit in class. I was sick to my stomach. I was so worried. If I lost to this girl, that would be it. I couldn’t go back to cheerleading, tryouts were way past. I would be nothing if I didn’t win. I asked to go to the nurse’s office. I lay on the couch clutching my stomach and waiting for them to announce the winner. Finally, at the end of the day they did. They announced it over the intercom system to the whole school.

I won.

The people of EHS had spoken. They didn’t want change. They wanted the cheerleader.

Friday, September 16, 2005

arch nemesis

I do have one short story that will make my presidential campaign story more interesting, so I will tell it now and then work on the homecoming story this weekend. It’s probably best that I postpone it because I’d like to post some actual homecoming queen photos to go with that story and I don’t have them with me now because I’m at work. I don’t bring those photos to work with me. I keep those photos in a special room in my apartment, surrounding the crown which I have sitting on a red velvet pillow, awash in a special soft light.

No, not really. I didn’t get to keep the crown. I had to give it to the girl who won the next year.

My JUNIOR year, before I was president and when I was still cheerleading, I came face to face someone who would become very important to me in my life – my arch nemesis. I had never had an arch nemesis before and I haven’t had one since. My Arch Nemisis she was a force to be reckoned with, a very short and stocky little bull dyke with spiky hair and a huge attitude. She was very opinionated and also very smart and really I liked her at first until she started hating my guts. I’m sure she’s living happily with her partner and cats in San Francisco as we speak. She probably has a motorcycle. If she still lives in the claw, then God help her for she is a most certainly a very unhappy person. Like me, she never belonged there in the first place.

We had met my freshman year and got along quite well actually. We both played, “The Groupies” in the spring musical which was of course, “Bye, Bye Birdie” We sang, “We love you Conrad, oh yes we do. We don’t love anyone as much….” It’s a maddeningly catchy tune and I’m sure if you are familiar with it you will now be singing it over and over and over and over again for the next 3-4 days at least. For this, I apologize.

Our junior year, my Arch Nemisis was a top reporter for “The Hornet”, our school newspaper. At some point during basket ball season she decided to write a scathing editorial re: how much she hated the cheerleaders. I think it was called “I Hate the Cheerleaders”. If you’ve been following along then you will remember that I was a cheerleader my sophomore and junior year and that I was rather psycho about it. I was like a super, Uber cheerleader who loved all things about cheerleading. Basketball was my favorite sport to cheer for and our team was really good, made it to the State finals even. So, I was in like super duper cheerleader mode during the time that the article was written.

When I first read it, I was immediately outraged. So outraged in fact, that I marched directly into the classroom where the pittaly little rag was published and demanded that the teacher in charge remove the article from the paper. How he was supposed to do this is beyond me. I guess he would have to round up all of the papers that had been distributed and go at them with a sharpie marker or a bottle of white out or better yet, destroy them and print a new edition minus scathing article.

What the article basically said was that the cheerleaders were a bunch of useless airheads whose only purpose it seemed, was to block her view of the game. She said that we had this amazing basketball team and when she went the game she wanted to watch basket ball and we kept distracting her with our crazy stupid jumping and dancing. Then she went on to say that we were talentless drunk hussies.

I couldn’t stand to read the truth in print. It was, to say the least, unacceptable. The newspaper teacher/editor told me that there was nothing he could do about the article. It was an editorial and in an editorial the journalist is free to express her opinion openly. “That’s the very definition of an editorial,” he told me. I marched out, mad as a pack of bees, huffing and puffing my way through Senior Locker Bay. Senior Locker Bay was the major meeting point/hang out and sort of epicenter of the school. If you wanted to yell at someone and have everyone see that you were yelling at them, this was the perfect place.

Wouldn’t you know it, just as I round the corner, here comes my Arch Nemisis, marching down the hall like a little baby packaderm. I walked right up to her and started in. It was a game day and I was wearing my cheerleading uniform, so I’m sure my short little shirt was bouncing up and down as I screamed at her, the maroon and gold ribbons in my hair tying themselves in knots. Everyone was watching. I told her that I thought she was a mean, horrible, hateful person. She told me all about the first amendment. I told her that free speech or no free speech what she did was mean and that I thought that SHE was a fat, ugly PIG but I wasn’t about to go write an article in the school paper about it. I didn’t have to; I had just screamed it to the whole school.

From then on we hated each other. We weren’t fighting all of the time or anything there was just a mutual huffiness whenever we passed each other in the hall. Then one day there was an assembly or not really an assembly but a performance/play of sorts. The Theatre Department at Western Washington University, located about 2 hours North in Bellingham Washington (later to become my Alma matter) came to our school and put on this play.

The play was called “Labels” and it was all about the different types of cliques that are formed in high school and how we are all alike and we all have feelings that can be hurt and we all need to try and understand each other better. There was a rich kid and a poor kid and a jock and a nerd and skateboarder and of course, there was a cheerleader.

I have to say, the cheerleader’s monologue was really one of the best. She did this fantastic cheer and then she explained how she just wanted to be a dancer like Paula Abdul but everyone thinks she’s an air head. God, could I relate to that. My heart really went out to that awesome cheerleader character. All of our hearts went out to all of the characters. The nerds loved the nerd, the jocks loved the jock, the rich kids… well there weren’t really any rich kids so no one loved him. Funny side note, the rich kid was played by a guy who would later become one of my best friends, who still is one of my best friends today. He’s an actor in L.A. now. He wasn’t really rich. HE’S JUST A REALLY GOOD ACTOR!!

After the play there was a talk back and lots of people had things to say. It was very emotional and very after school specially in a way that only high school can be. At one point my Arch Nemisis stood up to speak. She said that the play had really affected her, especially the character of the cheerleader. She said that she had never really thought about cheerleaders having feelings before and she had written this very cruel article in the school news paper about how horrible the cheerleaders were and now she realized that they really just want to be dancers and that dancers are alright. Everyone is of course locked in on me, waiting to see what I’m going to do. Then she turns to me and I stand up and I am bawling per usual and she is sort of crying too and then she says to me, “La Ketch, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wrote such a mean article and hurt your feelings.” And I said, “It’s okay Nemisis, I accept your apology. I’m sorry I called you a fat, ugly pig in front of the entire school.” And everyone applauded and most people were crying too. I’m sure that a flight of doves simultaneously erupted from the roof of the auditorium at that moment – all was well within the walls of EHS.

We still didn’t really like each other. Not so long after all of it, when I ran for Student Body President at the end of my junior year, I ran unopposed until two days before the election when someone crazily, boldly decided to run against me at the very last minute. It was of course, my Arch Nemisis. I guess I’ll have to tell that story next and the homecoming story gets pushed back yet again… I might WEAR the crown when I write the story. NO, no I’m kidding. I had to give it back remember?

Another funny side note to this story is that a few years later, when I was actually a student in the Theatre Department at Western Washington University, the favorite acting teacher was sitting around shooting the shit with a group of us undergrads and somehow it came up that I was from the Claw. He said to me, “The Claw, that’s funny. I know that place. I remember it because we took our play “Labels” there and at the talk back afterwards there was this big event where this girl had written a horrible article about one of the cheerleaders and she stood up and apologized to her in front of the whole school and everyone was crying.” “Yeah, that was me,” I said. “I was the cheerleader.” He started laughing so hard he almost peed his pants. It was really funny. We were all laughing.

So it’s true what they say. Everything seems so important in high school and then later, you can just laugh about it all. That story wasn’t short at all. Jesus, sorry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

frances runs away to the bathroom - part 2

They were right. I had nowhere to go. I had no money, no car and no shoes. I was screwed. Also, we were so far away from anything. I couldn’t even walk to a payphone and call someone collect. I had to go back in. I waited for a while and snuck around through the side door, walked up the stairs to my room, grabbed a blanket from my bed and locked myself in the bathroom. This time, no one had a key.

It took them a while to figure out where I was. My sister, once again was the one who finally discovered me. I had turned on the radio to give myself away. What was wonderful about hiding in this bathroom was that it had a laundry shoot under the sink. If I put my head up to the chute, I could hear them talking about me like Tom Sawyer at his own funeral. I could hear my mom wondering if she should go find me. I could hear him telling her that I couldn’t have gotten far. I could hear that it was tense between them and that my mom was defending me. It was unraveling between them. Not that things were so tightly knit to begin with.

I slept in the bathroom that night. I opened the door for my sister and she brought me some food and talked to me. She was the peacekeeper and was trying to get me to be nicer to my mom but she always made it clear that she was on my side. The next day I got up and went to school on the bus early by myself. I planned on going back into the bathroom after I got home but I didn’t. Maybe if there had been a TV in there I would have. I get bored so easily.

Soon after, my mom explained to us about the divorce and this big shift happened. She started talking to us like friends. She started telling us how unhappy she had been all this time, that she had no idea what she was doing, that she regretted selling our house in California, that she didn't love her new husband that she couldn’t stand his kids, that she cried in the shower. She hated her life in our new house so much that she would sit in the parking lot at the grocery store – just sit there in her car for hours – so she didn’t have to go home. She admitted, finally, that she had made a huge mistake. She told us how sorry she was.

More than anything I love it when I'm right. When my husband tells me that I am right about something, even the smallest thing, I always pretend that I can’t hear him so that he will have to repeat it louder and louder until finally he is screaming the phrase, “YOU WERE RIGHT!” “Thank you,” I say. It’s delicious. I was really relieved to hear my mom say that she had been wrong about getting married so soon and wrong to make us move away but I’ve never held it against her. I’ve always been incredibly sad for her and what she went through. Especially now that I’m married, I can begin to see it but not until I have children with my husband will I be able to begin to conceive of what she felt, continues to feel. She was married to this man for 15 years and she had two children with him and she was in love with him. She should not be held accountable for decisions she made after loosing him.

The problem is that my mom will not forgive herself for it to this day. I feel so badly for her, carrying it around – her Albatross. And the money, she won't forgive herself for losing it. She gave a big chunk of it my ex-step dad actually. She gave him that house for a nothin. He had to give her some money for it but she let him give it to her slowly in payments. She did this because she felt so badly for “ruining his life.” Puh-LEASE. He’s such a fucker. I hope that house has termites and dry rot and that the septic tank backs up and that a plane crashes into it.

There were two really big moments that I remember crystal clear from this time. The first is when the three of us (me/mom/sis) were in a family therapy session with the new awesome therapist who we all loved. My mom told her how I had been rebelling and acting out and telling her not to move or get married and the therapist said, “why didn’t you listen to her?” For some reason that meant so much to me. FINALLY, finally someone – an ADULT was acknowledging my opinion as valid. I felt like I had been screaming at the top of my lungs for a year and a half and no one could hear me. It was such a horrible feeling. I have anxiety dreams like this. I’m walking around screaming at the top of my lungs at everyone about something very dangerous and important and everyone is just ignoring me. It’s a horrible dream. I’ve since learned that when I lower the volume, people listen more closely. It’s hard to remember though. It’s so in my nature to scream.

The second thing I remember very clearly is driving in my mom’s mini van with my mom and my sister and we’re discussing what we should do next, after the divorce. It was a beautiful summer day. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This part of the world is so beautiful when the weather is nice, when it’s not raining but it’s always raining. People from Seattle will tell you that it doesn’t rain there as much as you think. They are lying through their teeth because IT’S ALWAYS RAINING. Consequently, when it’s not raining, it’s even more beautiful because it’s so green from all of the rain but also because you appreciate it more.

My mom asked us if we wanted to stay in Washington or if we wanted to move back to California. Since the day we stepped off the plane, all my sister and I could talk about was how we wanted to go back to California. We wanted to move back there desperately. We would lie on our backs in my room and say things to each other like, “Would you walk back to California?” “Yes.” “So would I.” But for some reason, for some crazy, crazy reason we all agreed unanimously that we would stay. We would find another house to live in together, the three of us, in the god damned Claw. For my sister and I, I think it was that we were just starting to get our bearings, finding friends, fitting in. I know for me the big fish small pond thing was pretty enticing. If I had gone back to California, to a school three times the size where people had way more money and there were so many beautiful girls, I never would have scaled the social stratosphere as I was able to there. For my mom, I think it was that she didn’t want to go back and face what she was running away from. The memory of my dad and all of her friends, many who were married to cops. Cops that hadn't been killed. We bring it up to each other now and again because we still can’t figure it out, “Why did we stay?” And then we joke that we only stayed because we happened to make the decision on the one sunny day of the year.

frances runs away to the bathroom - part 1

Take a step forward, take a step back – back to freshman year I’m afraid. The tail end of it…

I can’t tell you too much about what went down between my mom and step dad leading up to the divorce. I came close to calling my mom and actually asking her to recount the details to me last night but thought better of it. I’m still not quite ready for her to read all of this. I can tell you about the events leading up to it from my perspective and what stands out in my mind is the massive meltdown I had, which seemed to be the catalyst for my mom to actually take action and leave. That and she finally found an intelligent therapist that was like, “Um, hello – you need to leave this man.”

I don’t remember exactly what I was throwing the fit about exactly. I probably wanted to go OUT OF THE HOUSE. I was so tired of being a kept woman and sneaking out was getting totally boring. There’s nothing to do but drive around or go to some lame place and drink and make out. You feel obligated to make out with these guys who are nice enough to come to your driveway and pick you up at the end of it…. ew. Typing that just made me have a mini throw up.

So I started having this massive fit and my step dad had enough of me. He still thought I was an overpriviledged, spoiled brat that needed tough love and discipline. I was screaming at him, telling him to fuck off as usual and you have to understand that if his kids were acting like this he would kick the shit out of them. They weren’t allowed to say, “Fart” so “Fuck OFF” was like, totally off limits and I had screamed it in his face about a million times. He snapped. I could see it in his eyes. It was our final show down. This town ain’t big enough for the two of us. He picked me up by the shoulders (he was a fairly tall man and I was very small) and threw me, pinned me up against the wall. We locked eyes. My eyes said to him, “DO IT. Hit me motherfucker and hit me hard and I will call the police and press charges against you so fucking fast your fucking ugly head will spin.” I think I might have even muttered something in that moment. Something like, “do it.” He dropped me and walked away.

As soon as he dropped me I had a full on conniption. It was everything bubbling up and exploding out of my head. I can freak out pretty hard when I want to and this was a 10 on the Richter scale. A big mother. I was screaming unintelligibly pounding my fists, the whole bit. “I HHHHHAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTEEEEEEEE YYOOOUU. Ahahahhahahaaa whaaaaaaaa (that’s the sound of sobs) THAAAAT’SSSSS CHILLLLLDDD AAAAABUUUUUUSSEEEEE YOUUUUU FFFFUUUUUUCKKKIIIING ASSSSSHOOOOOLEE. Ahhhhaha hahwhaaaaaa IIII’MMMMM GOOOOOING TOOOOO CAAAAALLLL THEEEEE POOOOOLLLLIIICCCEEEEE Ahhhhaha hahwhaaaaaa MOOOOOOMMMMM Ahhhhaha hahwhaaaaaa CAAAALLLL THEEEEE POOOOLIEEEEECE.

But she didn’t. She didn’t call the police. Everyone just stood back. Finally, I ran out the door. Much to my disappointment, no one followed, probably because it was raining and I wasn’t wearing shoes. I remember tromping out in the field in front of the house, falling down on my hands and knees, waiting for someone to come chasing after me. No one came. I was pounding my fists in the mud very dramatically like, “as god as my witness.” Finally, when I realized no one was coming, I was like, “fuck it I’m out of here. I’m running away.”

As a child, I ran away from home a million times. I did it to get attention. The impetus always being the image I had in my mind of people panicking when they noticed I was gone and searching for me. I first got the Idea when I was about five and I read the book, “A Baby Sister for Frances”. Frances was this totally cool little Badger and she has a series of stories about her that me and my sister and my cousins were really into. The best in the series by far is, "Bread a Jam for Frances." But in this particular story, Frances gets a baby sister named, “Gloria” and she becomes so upset that she runs away under the kitchen table. Her parents pretend not to know that she’s there and they sit at the table and talk about her, “I sure do miss Frances, don’t you?” “Bread and Jam was Frances’ favorite, pity she isn’t here to enjoy some with us now.” And finally of course, Frances pops up and everyone pretends to be so relieved that she’s returned.

I ran away under the living room table because the kitchen table was connected to the wall and you couldn’t put a table cloth over it to hide under. It did not achieve the exact effect I had hoped but I stayed under there for a while and I got some attention for it. I would continue to run away many many more times after this and nine times out of ten, no one noticed when I did it. I wasn’t patient enough. I would always come back way too soon because I was so bored and no one would say a thing. Once though, in a moment of pure inspiration, I ran away into the bathroom. I was about nine. I brought with me my Miss Piggy sleeping bag and a bowl of fruit. I figured that fruit would hold me for a while. I planned on staying in there until I was a teenager. I had this whole fantasy played out in my mind about emerging from the bathroom and everyone just not believing how beautiful I had turned out to be. I also imagined that my dad would build a little trap door at the bottom of the actual door where my mother and sister would slide a food tray through to me. I didn’t figure on my dad having an actual key to the bathroom door – which he did. My sister had gone to him crying that I had locked myself in the bathroom and he immediately went and got the key and opened the door. I was shocked that my plan had ended so quickly. I had only been in there about 15 minutes. I had just finished brushing my hair. He wasn’t mad at me when he came in though. He asked my why I was so upset that I wanted to run away. I can’t remember what I told him.

Being a teenager sucks ass and I will tell you why, as I’m sure you’re all dying to know. You’re coming into yourself, your own identity, all you want is to be independent, to express your ideas about who you are and you have all of this EXPENDABLE ENERGY and SEXUAL ENERGY coursing around in you like a raging war of worlds but you are lacking one major, necessary thing, on extremely necessary thing and that thing is money. You have no money and no way of getting any significant sum of money and that means you have absolutely no power. It means that when you run out into the rain with no shoes on, no one chases after you. No one chases after you because they know, you ain’t gettin very far…

(to be continued after work - sorry busy day!)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Highlights from Sophmore and Junior Year


Giving baby diaper pins to Gray Armstrong whenever he pinned his man. Gray was my obsessive, unrequited crush all sophomore year. He was a star wrestler. He would put these diaper pins on his letterman’s jacket, which I longed to wear but never did. I used to walk by his locker and kiss it, leaving a big lipstick lip mark. This was as a sign of my love. I also did this to his truck which was a yellow Toyota pickup. I did make out with him once at a party where we had both been drinking everclear. Have you ever had everclear? It’s illegal now in the US. It’s like drinking motor fuel. I think you could run a lawn mower with it. We made out but I don't think I ever once had a conversation with him. He was painfully shy and I was terrified of him.

Hanging out with the sexy, cool girls on the squad who were one year older than me and partying hard with them. They were the “Heathers” of the school and they were really fun. The goodie goodie younger girls on the squad tried to tell on us (we weren’t supposed to go to parties or drink) and we had to have a meeting where we passed around a “spirit stick”. We cried a lot and basically begged these girls not to turn us in. We promised to never drink or go to parties again. They didn’t turn us in. We of course continued to go to parties and drink.


Hot Box girl in “Guys and Dolls” - Fell asleep back stage because that play is so long and there were huge stretches between numbers. Woke up in the middle of a dream and fell down a flight of stairs trying to get on stage. Walked across the stage with no skirt on. Didn’t know that I wasn’t wearing my skirt. It had fallen off. when I fell down the stairs.

Squealer the pig in “Animal Farm – the Musical” - Yes it’s true. We did Animal Farm the Musical when ALL WE WANTED TO DO WAS GREASE. I wanted to be Rizzo so fucking bad but instead I had to play a pig and wear a pig nose and pig hooves a little pig tail. I had the most lines in the play though and when you’re in high school it’s all about how many lines you have.

Other activities I was involved with:

Student council – I was the lunch time activity coordinator. We had really fun activites every Thursday. Like a pie eating contest or whatever. Being on the student council was very involved though. I had my finger on the pulse by now, involving myslef in all aspects of Student Government and event planning, paving my way towards the presidency.

I was also in like five hundred other clubs at school. Ironically, Students Against Drunk Driving was one of them. Drama club, who knows what else. I was in year book for a while I think. It was all supposed to look good on my college applications but it didn’t do me any good because my grades sucked. I was like Max in “Rushmore" - In charge of everything but doing horribly in my actual classes. I always had an excuse to leave - game to cheer for, student council meeting, decorating for a dance, on and on and on. I was never in class. Also my mom worked in the main office as the career counselor. I would go to the front desk and say, "my mom said I could sign myself out. She's too busy to come up here and do it." That worked for a long time. It worked actually right up until I had to resign as President. Everyone thought I was such a superstar but I was just a trickster. I was a politician.

God, k. That was so difficult for some reason. It all just seems so damned boring. Tomorrow we will get on with my senior year and I will tell you about how I became the Homecoming Queen. Now, that's an interesting story...


That is a photo of "the Claw" - downtown.

I have a difficult jump to make ahead. I've gotten us through my freshman year but the story I want to tell, the real story doesn't happen until the middle of my senior year. There aren't a lot of really juicy stories beyond the ones I've told so far to jump us there so I have to just paint you a picture of what happened sophomore and junior year.

Basically I take those years to establish myself as the single most powerful person in the entire school. The student body president? Well yes, I was the student body president but being the student body president doesn't really mean that you are the most powerful person in the entire school. I was something much greater, much more important, much more lauded after and clamored for - the Homecoming Queen.

Now of course, we have to put things into perspective here. This is probably the most perfect example of big fish small pond ever. This is - "the Claw" we are talking about. Who the fuck wants to be the Queen of "the Claw"? Well a lot of people actually. I suppose at some schools being the homecoming queen is not such a big deal but at EHS it was a huge deal, big drawn out deal.

I don't think I'll tell the homecoming story just yet though, this is just a teaser entry, an entry of what's to come. I think that I should probably mention my cheerleading days first. Maybe it sounds boring but it's important to mention, so that you can get a full picture of who I was when the shit went down. I was the cheerleading homecoming queen student body president after all.

More than anything I wanted to be a cheerleader. MORE THAN ANYTHING. I freaking dreamed about it, obsessed about it. I was convinced that being a cheerleader was the key to all things cool. And I was right.. Cheerleading isn't really cool at all High Schools but at EHS it was. There wasn't a JV squad and a Varsity squad there was just one squad - ten lucky ladies. Also, there wasn't a dance team. We did dances too, really awesome dances. I loved being a cheerleader so much. It was my life, my identity. It was a little sad.

I didn't make the team the first tryout. I tried out three times before I made it. There were two separate tryouts each year - one for fall sports (aka football) and one for winter (aka basketball & wrestling). I made it onto the team for winter sports my sophomore year. I cheered that year and also for Fall and Spring my Junior year. I practiced like a maniac, went through two trials of rejection and finally I made my mom drive me an hour out of town to take private gymnastics classes twice a week so that I could learn how to do a back handspring. Most of the girls could do flips and stuff and I couldn't so I figured if I could learn how to flip, I could make it in.

It worked. I could only do one back handspring though and it wasn't very good. I was always terrified that I would land on my head and then I actually did fall on my head. I had learned how to do them too late. You have to learn how to do that kind of shit when you're a kid and you have no concept of gravity. It seems perfectly natural to be able to bounce your feet against the ground, sail into the air and flip your body upside down and land on your feet again no problem. But when you're a little older, the fear sets in. You know that if you fall it will hurt. So I was always scared and one time at a pep assembly, I tried to do two back handsprings and I fell on my head and knocked myself out in front of the entire school. I couln't do them after that but it didn't matter, I was already in.

I have to tell you all that this story is boring the hell out of me because it's not even really a story. I apologise. I'm going to go get through some of my work here and then try and come back to this this afternoon... xo, la ketch.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Happy Birthday Shirley

I was only seven or eight years old but the memory is singed deep and bright. The image of my mother, sick in bed. She and my dad were supposed to go out that night and our FAVORITE babysitter C.S. was supposed to come over and watch us. I couldn’t wait for them to leave and for her to get there so that the fun could begin. But here was my mom, sick in bed, not a good sign. “What’s the matter mommy?” I said to her pleadingly from the foot of her bed like a perfect little unsuspecting angel. My dad answered the question from behind me, “Your mother is sick.” He had a bucket of soapy water and a sponge in his hands and he set them down against the wall as he said this.

The sickness was super strange because my mom had been perfectly fine just hours earlier. They had gone to this birthday party for our next door neighbor, Shirley. It was a backyard pool party sort of situation and my dad had been bartending. So the story goes, he had just learned to make long island iced teas and they had been a big hit at a different party a few weeks earlier. My mom had taken a sip and really liked it. “You can’t even taste the alcohol!” Yeah, well we can all see where this is going.

Now my dad is making these long island iced teas at Shirley’s party but the “jigger” aka shot glass was bigger than the one he had been using and the glasses were pint glasses. So these drinks were huge and strong and my mom drank two of them and became totally wasted in a matter of 30 minutes. He had to drag her back home and put her into bed.

I had never seen my mom drunk before and I didn’t understand why my dad had this bucket, had she thrown up? Yes, but that’s not what the bucket was for. I turned to my right...

Written on the wall, in huge crayon letters were the words, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHIRley........ There was a line drawn from the end of the “Y” all the way to the floor. It looked like she had fallen and drug the crayon along the wall with her on the way down. Then, when you followed the line you could see two little words written in teeny tiny handwriting with the same crayon. It said, “help me.”

I think I’ve told this story one million times and it still cracks me up it is so fucking funny.

“Don’t worry, your mother is going to clean that up,” my dad assured me. I wasn’t worried about who was going to clean it up. I was worried that my mom had lost her frigging MIND! What the heck is going on when your mom is taking your Crayolas and writing these crazy messages on the wall?! “Help me?!” But you’re my mom! You’re supposed to be helping ME!!!

I’ll tell you what’s going on when this sort of thing is happening. Your mom is drunk.

So now, whenever she gets a little tipsy and starts acting obnoxious we will say to her, “Happy Birthday Shirley,” with a tone of warning in our voice as if to say, “never forget”. That reels her in for maybe five minutes. I have to admit that my husband has used this warning on me more than a few times and it has a similar effect. I’m so much like her. It’s scary.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

drink me

The last thing I remember is standing on top of the kitchen table with a huge glass of gin in my hand and yelling out to everyone, "Look at me! Look at me!" I should have this phrase printed on a t-shirt and wear it each and everyday of my life because it pretty much sums things up. Once I had everyone's complete, undivided attention, I drank the entire glass. It was a huge rocks glass, like a "bucket" glass and it was full of gin and I drank it all. I weighed about 98 pounds at the time. This one glass would have been bad enough in it self but this was like the third time I had done this little trick that night. Mag and I had been sitting around the kitchen table playing "quarters" with shots of gin for about an hour with two guy friends of ours who had been kind enough to pick us up at the end of her driveway after we snuck out of her house. Like I mentioned in my last entry, we broke into my house. My family was on vacation and I wasn't allowed to go with them because I was grounded for doing this. It wasn't hard to break in. Um, I may have had a key.

The main reason we wanted to go to my house in the first place, besides the fact that there were no parents, was that for some reason my mom kept a well stocked liquor cabinet. Big fat bottles of hard alcohol. It was strange that she did this because like me, my mom can not hold her alcohol and there is this hilarious story about my mom getting drunk on long island iced teas when I was about seven. Holy shit, I have to tell you that story, it's so funny. Much funnier than this one. I will tell it in the next entry. So, my mom rarely drank and when she did, it was a glass of white zin from the box in the fridge. This was good for us because she never noticed when the bottles went down.

Up until that night, my drink of choice was whiskey. We (my sister, Mag and I) would do shots of that sometimes when my mom was home even. Just sneak down after she went to sleep and sit in the kitchen, do shots and get silly. But this night I had grabbed a bottle of gin. Thank god it was the gin and not the whiskey because I still can not drink gin to this day. That disgusting pine needley smell is forever associated in my subconscious with the liquid that almost killed me. It makes me gag. If I had been drinking whiskey, it would be that wonderful sweet whiskey smell I couldn't stand and that would be just plain sad because... I do love whiskey.

I had learned some things about alcohol by this point like, A: not supposed to drink it and B: it gets you drunk. But I swear to God, no adult or peer had ever explained to me that if you drank too much, you could actually die. I had been drunk plenty of times but this night I was on a mission. I had just been dumped.

By about my third week in school I had started dating this super cool guy. Cool is such a relative term though, isn't it? It's amazing really, how quickly one can adapt their own personal perception of cool. Let's just say, by the time this story takes place, my bangs are HUGE. This cool guy I was dating was a junior. He was a wrestler. He had a mullet. No, seriously, he had a mullet and the bottom half was pretty short BUT HE PERMED IT. I'm not kidding. I watched him get it done once; a lot of guys did this. It's hysterical. Oh god, it gets better, he drove this like teeny low rider truck that was painted really bright mint green and had some sort of air brush design on the tinted window in the back. This truck had a stereo that would blow your brains out. We listened to Milli Vannili and Vanilla Ice.

So like I said, I'm dating this super cool guy with this super cool car and he dumps me out of the blue. I'm pretty sure it was because I wouldn't have sex with him. Then he goes and tells all of his friends that we did have sex and that I was really freaked out and crying and there was blood everywhere and his dad heard me screaming (we were supposedly in his bedroom) and walked in and saw everything and I ran away and now I won't speak to him. Total fucking lie - the whole thing was a complete fabrication. I confronted him in front of his friends, screaming at him, calling him a lying dick, etc. but they all just laughed and continued to believe him. The question is, why would he tell them this kind of a story? It sounds like he raped me. He's such an idiot asshole I can barely believe it. Later, my mom dated his father. No, I'm not joking. His dad was one of two eligible bachelors in the entire town and the other one was gay, so she pretty much had no choice. My mom dated his dad seriously off and on for years and I had to spend Christmas with this guy who had told this horrible lie about me, who I hated. I drew his name for secret Santa even. I got him an International News sweatshirt. My mom eventually broke it off when she moved back to California. This was after I had gone away to college.

It was after I drank that last glass of gin that I called this cool ex-boyfriend up on the phone. Apparently, I was raving at him, telling him to come over so I could kick his ass. Then I proceeded to call everyone I knew and tell everyone I knew to call everyone they knew and and tell them to come over because I was having a party.

And they came. Oh did they ever. It turned into a full on rager or, so I'm told...

I can't remember a thing beyond the "look at me" moment. I had only what Mag could remember and the clues left behind to piece meal together the events of the evening. The house was trashed. My mom's entire liquor cabinet was cleaned out. (Of course, she never replaced it - bastards!) We had this overlook from the upstairs part of the house, how to explain this... the hallway had like a section of the wall cut out so that you could look down onto the living room which had vaulted ceilings. People were jumping from that ledge down onto the furniture. Hanging from the ledge and dropping onto the couches. Some guy had cowboy boots on and he left huge black scuff marks all over the wall from where he was hanging. He also left huge scuff marks all over the kitchen floor. It must have been on purpose that he did this, the scuffs were so bad. Someone kicked my step brother's bunny cage really hard so that the entire side of it was bent in. The bunny lived (thanks be to GOD). Someone had sex in my mom and step dad's bed. Someone had sex in my bed. Someone took my step dad's gun out of the closet and loaded it. No shots were fired. THANK GOD NO SHOTS WERE FIRED. It was really bad but it could have been much worse.

Apparently, I was walking around like a crazy lunatic the entire party. At one point I was walking around with my pants around my ankles singing "Lucky Star" with a hair brush for a microphone. This was the story circulating at school the next day anyway. When I asked Mag about this, she said she thought that it probably had happened.

Eventually, the friends that had snuck us out realized things were getting out of hand and kicked everyone out. Then they drove us back to Mag's house. They carried me down the driveway. By this time, I was mostly passed out but I would go into periodic raving fits about things which no one could understand. I was hallucinating people and talking to them. They threw me in the bathroom and ran for their lives. Mag went to bed.

At about four am, Mag's mom woke up to the sound of me screaming. I was in the bathroom yelling at the top of my lungs, "Help me! PLEASE HELP ME!" She said that it sounded like I was being murdered. She got up out of bed, came down stairs and saved my life.

I was in and out of consciousnes; throwing up all over myself but dry heaving mostly. My breathing was really irregular. I would just stop breathing and she would have to shake me and scream at me to get me to start again. I was shaking and convulsing. She hung me over the toilet and pounded on my back and made me drink water. She almost took me to the hospital but finally decided I would be okay. At some point she got Mag up out of bed and started drilling her: where had we been? what did we drink? was she drunk too? etc. She drug Mag into the bathroom where I was - saying to her, "I want you to see this. I want you to see what alcohol poisoning does to a person" Mag pretended to be unimpressed but admitted to me later that it was indeed a horrific site to behold. I looked abominable, like a dying person. She said it had a profound effect on her. Although, not quite profound enough. I've seen her wasted so many times since then, it's not even funny.

I was hung over for about three days, really, really sick. Mag's mom drove us back to my house the next day to clean up the mess from the party. I remember lying on the linoleum floor in the kitchen with two buckets and a toothbrush scrubbing the scuff marks from the cowboy boots. One bucket was full of soapy water and the other was for me to puke in. When my mom called later that day to check in on me I had to tell her what happened. There was no way to lie my way out of it. I told her that once again, I had done something horrible and that her property had been destroyed in the wake of it. At least this time she believed me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

running with the devil

My best friend through all four years of high school was Maggie (Mag for short) She was also my best friend through college and she is still one of my best friends today. By the time I had crashed the car, I was finally hanging out with the popular crowd. I was not one of the most popular but I had entered into the upper echelon. I was sort of B list, which was fine with me really because the A list wasn’t very interesting to talk to. Maggie was B list too and she is very interesting to talk to. She comes from a really big Catholic Family (10 kids) and she grew up in "the Claw". She was a good tour guide. Also, she is super cute and funny and she was really crazy. We both liked to drink and we both liked to do things that could get us into trouble. During our four years in high school together my mom told me on several occasions that she didn’t want me hanging out with Maggie any more. Maggie’s mom said the same thing to her about me. We scoffed at them. We were glue.

Mag and I were rarely allowed to go out because we were always in trouble. Towards the end of my grounding, my mom let up a bit and I would be able to stay at Mag’s house, with the understanding that we couldn’t go out and do anything. For some reason, my mom thought that we were watched really closely over there, which was so not the case. Mag’s mom was a labor and delivery nurse. She was often working nights, delivering babies at the hospital. Mag’s dad was a commercial airline pilot and his route took him to Japan. He would often be gone for weeks at a time. Mag’s house had a big rec. room in the basement with a T.V. and a pool table. Even when her parents were home, it was pretty much a free for all down there. Maybe every once in a while and adult would yell something down like, “everyone okay?” You could be doing keg stands, as long as someone could say “fine,” you would get away with it. Obviously, Mag and I preferred to stay at her house.

We especially preferred to stay there during our freshman year because she had an older brother who was a senior and we worshiped him. Mag's brother was the lead singer of a band and they played original songs but also did covers of Van Halen and other equally awesome bands. They played at a pep assembly that year and Mag's brother fronted this totally killer version of the Van Halen version of “You really got me now” by the Kinks. Mag's brother really had me going with that song. He had every girl in all of EHS going with it. He was so freaking hot, doing splits and writhing around on the Gymnasium floor, we could barely contain ourselves. I couldn’t believe that I was best friends with his sister and that I got to hang out in his house and could even possibly have an opportunity to talk to him.

Almost every Saturday night we would hang out in Mag’s rec. room and wait until her brother and his friends would come home and watch Saturday Night Live, which was funny then. We would sit around and drink and watch it and laugh and reenact the skits for each other. My favorite was when Mag's brother would play the “Wayne’s World” theme on the guitar – replacing the “Wayne’s World” with “Your Name Here’s World, Your Name Here’s World, Party Time Excellent…. Etc. etc…..” When he did it with my name, it was heavenly.

Around the time that Mag's brother was graduating from high school, Mag and I were grounded again for the second big thing I did that got me in huge trouble. I will tell you about that in a second. We were really restless and decided that we should do something for him, as a gift for graduation. Mag’s family had a video camera and we were always goofing around with it, making funny fake movies. So, we decided to make a music video for him.

Mag has a little sister who at the time was in the fifth grade. She called me a couple of days ago to tell me that she is pregnant and getting married. God, we’re old now I guess. Because Mag's little sister was only in the fifth grade, she wasn’t allowed to go out either. We employed her as our camera man (woman, er…little girl). Then we proceeded to get dressed up like little prostitutes. We put on bikini bathing suits and over them we put on Maggie’s little sister's clothes which were literally five sizes too small. We teased our hair up beyond belief and put on tons or trashy makeup. Then we got some old guitars and we made up a dance routine and set it to the Van Halen recording of “You really got me” but we sang over Sammy Hagar, replacing the word, “Girl” with “Mag's brother's name” “Mag's brother, you really got me now, you got me so I don’t know what I’m doin…. Yeah.” We danced and sang to this song in a really sexy way. And then, (I still can’t believe we did this), then, (I think we did it because we had only choreographed the first half of the song) we striped. We didn’t strip down all the way, we had bathing suits on but my bathing suit was sort of peach colored and Mag’s bathing suit was very small. We were practically naked and we were fourteen years old, super skinny, just getting our boobs and it was extremely child porn like. We did not consider this at the time. We thought it was funny. We worked on the video all night. We couldn’t wait to give it to him. When we sat down to show it to him finally, he laughed at first and then as it went on, he got quieter and quieter, jaw sort of starting to hang open. When it was over, he was like, “wow that’s so funny you guys, thanks so much,” popped the tape out of the vcr and took it with him.

Mag and I were not so quick to catch on to what he had seen in the video that we hadn’t. Until one night when we came down in to the basement and he was sitting there, drinking with a huge group of guys, watching it over and over again, practically beating off to it. They might as well have been watching a porno. In a flash we both realized what was going on – what we had done. WE FREAKED. We tore down the stairs and ripped the tape out of the machine. Her brother chased us around the room, “give it back, it’s mine, you made it for me!!” Now you might think this is a little sick, he was her brother but I was in it too and he was getting a lot of attention from this. Also, this is "the Claw" we’re talking about…we were lucky we weren’t sheep. We might not have gotten off so easily. (click that link, you won’t regret it)

Luckily, at least as far as we know, no copies were made. We kept the tape for a long time and every once in a while when we got drunk enough at college, we would tell the story and pop the tape in for people. It got similar reactions even then. People would laugh then the guys would get quiet and have to leave the room. Eventually, I lost the tape completely, in some move probably. If I still had it, I’d post it here. On second though, maybe I wouldn’t.

I didn’t set out to tell this story though. I was going to tell you about the second time I got in big trouble which was before all this. It happened right after I totaled the truck, when my family went on vacation and I was staying with Mag and we were waiting for her brother to come home like always. But he didn’t come home until late that night and we got really bored waiting for him. So we decided to sneak out of Mag’s house, go to my house, break into it, call everyone we knew and throw a party…