Friday, May 17th, 2013
(Apologies for the six week silence! The cops keep catching up with me.)
It was 2 a.m. and I awoke with a start. Not the “wow, I shouldn’t have had that gallon of Diet Coke and a Midol before bed” kind of start. More like “Hey, two exits, no waiting, free Funyons on your way out!”
It was the night before we were to leave on an 18-day international vacation, and I was coming down with something. And I’d been looking forward to this trip for a year. Having never been to Asia, I was anticipating lots of profound cultural experiences: shortie kimonos, Panda Express restaurants and poignant photos of me with poor people.
What I was getting, instead, was a violent case of the stomach flu.
“Pull it together!” my supportive and concerned partner Sandy yelled at me when I told him I didn’t feel well.
This was not a surprising response. He’s not actually quite as horrible and soulless as that sounds; he just has this ridiculous and totally unwarranted idea that I can be a bit of a hypochondriac.
Sure, I might take a Xanax before getting my teeth cleaned. Sure, one patch of dry skin and I’m at the Mayo Clinic website searching for rare skin cancers. But I was sick. And there was irrefutable evidence – the kind that makes you go, “Wow, I don’t remember eating corn.”
A couple of weeks earlier, Sandy had laughed at me when I said that I was gonna get a prophylactic course of Tamiflu from my doctor.
“Listen,” I told him, “it’s the height of the flu season and we’re gonna be in Asia for 18 days. If one of us gets sick, where will we find a good physician? Do you want some witch doctor waving a flaming wad of sage over you and chanting in a voice straight out of The Omen?”
He never catches anything, so naturally this seemed like insane reasoning to him.
“We’ll be on a cruise ship and staying in American hotels. We’re not gonna be floating on a raft down the Mekong Delta.”
“Better safe than sorry,” I had replied. And now, in this moment of illness, I smugly waved the box of Tamiflu in his face. “Who’s laughing now?”
I had no idea if Tamiflu worked on whatever I had, but I immediately began popping tablets like they were Sweet-tarts because I had to go to work. We weren’t leaving until midnight, and nothing says “fake sick day” like calling in sick on your last work day before a vacation.
Promptly around noon, after spending roughly ten hours on or near the toilet, I finally managed to drag my ass in to the office.
“Oh, my God, what happened to you?”
This from my friend Raquel, who typically suffers from some sort of ocular disorder that makes her think I’m handsome.
“Do I look bad?” I said, sweat running down my unshaven face, my clothes unkempt.
“You look like shit.” Raquel is Chilean, so she used a Spanish word, but I’m pretty sure that’s what she was going for.
“I have the flu,” I replied breathlessly, “or SARS.”
I managed to make it a couple of hours, until my boss asked me, for the sake of everyone else present, to get the hell out of the building.
When I arrived home, my in-laws were there, along with our friend Julie who was going to house-sit for us. Everyone was in a festive mood, which only made matters worse.
“Come have a glass of Merlot,” Mary, my mother-in-law said. She and I share a common interest in red wine, ostensibly for the health benefits, although rumor has it those benefits dull somewhat around glass number four.
“I’m just gonna take a little nap,” I said, stumbling down the hall to the bedroom.
“He thinks he’s sick,” Sandy explained.
“Dying is more like it!” I hollered, wondering if I should call for a priest. And convert to Catholicism.
Somehow, I managed to shower and endure the car ride to the airport, suffering in silence save for an occasional cry of discomfort to make sure everyone noticed my bravery. But as we shuffled through the security line, it suddenly occurred to me: we’re changing planes in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has those temperature scanners. If you have a fever, they’ll quarantine you.
I could be spending the next 3 days on a cot in the Hong Kong airport, being beaten by a Chinese guard.
Well, I thought, if that happens, I’ll create an international incident. I’ll post a video of my torture on YouTube and become a cause celebre. Hillary Clinton will come to my rescue and Diane Sawyer will interview me on the evening news. This could be really good for book sales.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
My partner and I just returned from a trip to Asia that was, essentially, The Amazing Race without the shirtless Chippendales and prize money.
The idea for this trip started a year ago with my dad-in-law, who wanted to return to Vietnam where he’d served during the Vietnam war. Now, that sounds, in theory, like a very personal, almost mystical journey, one likely to bring a deep and profound sense of closure to a difficult chapter of his life.
But the rest of us – my partner, my mother-in-law and I – didn’t have much interest in reliving the Tet Offensive if there weren’t four-course meals and sparkly dancers involved. So instead of him taking a solo pilgrimage to Nah Trang, the four of us settled on a two-week cruise that began in Singapore, wound through Thailand and Vietnam, and ended up in Hong Kong. And we added on a side trip to Kuala Lumpur, mostly because no one knows where it is and it sounds terribly exotic, as if we were visiting indigenous tribes that have never seen a Mr. Microphone or toilet paper.
We chose a cruise because, much like a Vegas hooker, we really like waking up someplace new every day. And we chose this particular cruise because we would be in each city on the itinerary for two days, instead of the usual 8-hour port stop you get on a ship that stops in New Orleans for Fat Tuesday. In as much was feasible in 48 hours, we wanted to soak up the culture, the local customs, and to begin to understand what it’s like to be Malaysian. Or Singaporean. Or Thai. Or Vietnamese. Or Chinese.
None of this fazed us, of course. Seven cities across five countries in 18 days? Psssh. A no-brainer. We’ve done this kind of mad dash across Europe, Central America, Australia.
It’s all in a day’s vacation.
Unless you get the stomach flu. And lose your wallet.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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Friday, January 11th, 2013
We’re now a week and a half into 2013 and no one’s been able to provide a definitive new date for the end of the world. And if you’re
anything like me, you must be a nervous wreck.
I mean, there’s something comforting about knowing exactly when the planet will be destroyed. Sure, there’s that fiery cataclysm part, but
at least you can plan. And I’m a planner. I mean, I know what I’m doing every weekend from now through February. I know where I’m going on vacation in 2014. (If there is a 2014.) I know where there’s a stash of Windex bottles if the Apocalypse turns out to be a filthy mess.
Naturally, I thought the End Times were coming when I was little, and women started leaving the home and having careers. God is clearly
enraged, I thought. I was certain it was here when black people started legally marrying white people. Because if that doesn’t spell spiritual calamity, I don’t know what does. Then I was convinced the moment was upon us when gays were allowed to protect our country. Surely, I thought, God will now blow the whole business up. After all, that’s what our religious leaders who have TV shows assured us would happen.
But no Four Horsemen.
No raging hellfires.
All of these events that were hailed as the downfall of western civilization have had no negative effect at all.
And I have to tell you, I’m getting a little aggravated. Because if I don’t know the ground rules for Armageddon, I cannot properly plan
So, what, I’m now left wondering, would be cause for God to incite the end of humanity?
Maybe it’s not some event that made one group of people feel empowered and had no impact on the rest. Maybe it’s an event where all of us
are actually, truly, wronged, in a way that virtually cannot be disputed. Where the question is not one of religiously defined immorality, but of simple inhumanity.
Like the NRA refusing to ban assault weapons so that it would be harder to kill 26 people at a grade school.
Or Congress having their heads so far up their asses that they can’t manage to appropriate money for the victims of a hurricane.
Or even an insurance company that was bailed out by the American people suing the government because the “terms were too stringent”.
Yeah, that feels more Apocalyptic to me. And I’m really glad I came to this conclusion. Because I bought a new skinny suit for the Apocalypse,
and it’s gonna take some time to get into that thing.
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Thursday, December 6th, 2012
When my first book came out, my partner presented me with a really
special gift: a scrapbook, filled with press clippings, reviews, photos from
the book launch events, etc. It was, and is, a prized memento of a time in my
life of which I’m proud. I wrote a memoir that the editor of The Help edited, Penguin published, a
few complete strangers actually bought, and Sony optioned as a TV series. And
I’m close to finishing a second book.
I feel like I’ve accomplished something small but worthwhile
with my life. And really, isn’t that all any of us wants? A scrapbook to wave
over our heads to prove that we did something that contributed to the world, or
at least that made others feel like total losers?
The problem, for most people, though, is that
accomplishments like this take time. And people with children don’t have time. Dozens of my co-workers have,
at one time or another, marched up to me and demanded, “How did you find the
time to write a book?” (Our work days are long and sometimes bitch-slappingly
And I always reply, “You know all that time you spend taking
Sophie/Bryce/Rainbow to Little League/Drug Counseling/Toddlers and Tiaras auditions? That’s
when I write.”
This makes them feel a little less lazy and slothful. And really,
they shouldn’t feel lazy and slothful. Their
accomplishments are those beautiful children – our world’s future leaders –
that they have nurtured, taught, and guided. Their scrapbook needn’t be
mementos of a book release, or album launch, or movie premiere. It can be
memories of the special moments in their children’s lives.
Take my best friend’s sister-in-law. She has raised three
children and, in her lovely double-wide in West Virginia, has a beer barrel coffee
table piled high with scrapbooks. And what are those scrapbooks filled with? Memories
of the kids’ arrests and incarcerations – press clippings, mug shots, prisoner
number tags from uniforms.
Memories that say, “Job well done, Shirlene. JOB WELL DONE.”
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Thursday, November 29th, 2012
I am proud to say that I have never personally mooned anyone from the altar of the Sistine Chapel. Nor have I ever hurled onto a crucifix. I have never felt moved to get drunk and mack out in the back pew of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Or encouraged a stripper to “work that pole” in the Vatican.
I have always striven to show the world’s religious monuments and icons (even the heretical ones) a measure of respect and reverence. Which is, apparently, less than I can say for the Dublin Wax Works in Ireland, which has inherited possession of the original 1970’s Popemobile and is about to begin renting it out for proms, stag parties and bachelorette binges.
Okay, granted, as a non-Catholic, there is something fun about the thought of sitting on a throne in a giant glass bubble, wearing a big hat and gold dress and throwing condom wrappers (with no condoms inside) at the throngs as someone drives me down a parade route. After all, there’s probably a three hour minimum and you gotta get your money’s worth.
But that is where I draw the line. I mean, it’s the Popemobile. Anything more than that is just bad taste.
Flashing your t**s at passing cars? Unseemly. Screaming the Louisiana fight song out the hermetically sealed windows? Vulgar. Losing your virginity in the back seat? Ironic, and a little hilarious…but indelicate.
No, I would treat the Popemobile with the esteem and veneration such a hallowed object deserves. I would use it to drive my Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Jewish friends to the site of the New Inquisition (sponsored by Red Bull), where they would be tortured for believing something other than the Catholic faith.
Just like Pope Innocent IV did.
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