Monday, August 29, 2011

The kind of person I am

As I was running in Iroquois Park last Sunday, it hit me.

Like a steel bar, nailing me right in the ribcage, it hit me.
Like a once, rubber-coated steel handlebar of a bike that has seen so much use, that the handlebar condom has rubbed off, leaving the hollow, metal-alloy bars uncovered and dangerous--capable of causing a mark resembling ringworm, should one of them come into contact with human flesh.

Literally, it hit me.

As I ran on the broken asphalt path that has yet to be fixed with the taxpayers' dollars, I was hit by a homeless man on his bike.

The run started off so innocently; just a chance to break in my new, electric blue and lime Nike running shoes that I laid down $125 for, specifically to put myself in the mindset, 'you paid for them, you better fucking get your money's worth.'

See, many people have warned me about the dangers of running in Iroquois Park. The horror stories about the park in the south end of the city, nestled in the white-trash can of Louisville.

"Don't run there at night, because people always speed and aren't courteous toward runners. You could be the victim of a hit and run. And you could always get raped."

"Don't run there alone, because some guy will wait for you to run behind an average-sized bush, knock you on the head with his rebel flag belt buckle, and take your iPod, and probably your shoes, too. And you could always get raped."

"Don't run with your iPod, because some guy will sneak up on you while you're behind an average-sized bush, knock you on the head with his rebel flag belt buckle, and take your iPod, and probably your shoes, too. And you could always get raped."

"Don't run in broad daylight, because a lot of people are there, and chances are pretty great that one of them is a registered sex offender. And you could always get raped."

"Don't run by the basketball court while homeboys have a game going on. You'll definitely get raped."

Never once has anyone warned me,

"Don't run on the path that is meant for runners, because a homeless man may ride up behind you, stealthily as a motherfucker, despite the fact that there is a completely separate path for bikers, and ram the handlebar of a more-than-likely stolen bike into your side, causing you to trip over yourself and end up in a patch of grass next to the path, baffled and thinking, 'Am I out of my motherloving mind, or did I just get hit by a homeless man on a bike?'"

As I stood there in amazement for a few seconds, the crumpled, overflowing-with-useless-shit Kroger bags hanging from his handlebars rustled in the wind, and he rode off into the sun, never looking back--as if he didn't feel the 115 pound obstruction that he just plowed. A proverbial slap in my face, as if to say, "take this, little girl in your pricey Nikes, I got this bike for free." His pants, ripped at the seams from the bottom of his feet to the middle of his calf; a salute to the homeless in America, as if to say, "we are torn, but you can't take our freedom!"

And at that moment, I waited for his frayed pants to get caught in the gears, and I waited for him to fall on his face and spill his useless shit sacks onto the pavement.

But he didn't. Because the positive karma balance in my life account is in the red.

Defeated, I ran back to my mom's car, because with the the shit piled in mine, it would only be a matter of time before someone broke into it, and my mother refused to let me take it in public. I headed home to regale my family with the story of what had just happened.

As soon as I walked in the door, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "well, I got hit by a homeless man on a bike."

My mother, who was sitting on the couch, perked up and stared at me in disbelief, and as her eyes widened, she asked, "Is there a lawsuit?"

To which I responded, a bit confused, "what are you talking about? I'm fine."

"Jessica, what about my car? Is my car okay?!"

Thanks, Mom, for always putting my safety first and foremost.

I guess I should really work on the whole positive karma thing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More inspiration

By reading books on writing, I discovered a justification for my ludicrous descriptions, lesser-than-nice observations, and so-true-they-hurt comments:

"Of course, it's frightening to risk the truth, mainly for fear that somebody might read what we've written and take it badly or, worse, think badly of us--that our observations and hard-won insights are bizarre or creepy. That's why, to really get the ink flowing, I often console myself with the morbid thought that, in all likelihood, when I die nobody's gonna remember me, so why the hell not write what's true?"
-Jay Kirk

Needless to say, I have rendered myself fearless in this aspect.

The truth hurts.
But it sure makes one hell of a blog.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011


If I were awakened this morning by a man telling me I would put electrical tape on my nipples today, well, first, I would have been a little confused as to how a man got into my room and why he was prophesizing make-shift pasties in my near future, then I would have laughed, shooed him away with a posh flick of my wrist, and directed him to the nearest substance abuse meeting.
In hypothetical retrospect, he had the last laugh.

Let me explain.

Most people have fear of rational things.  Like spiders.  Or heights.  Or death.  Or Jell-O.  Or anything that is fear-worthy, really.  Most fears are justifiable--even understandable.  My fear, however, manifests itself in a much darker place.
A fear that few people justify and even fewer people understand:


My fear is one of boobs.
Not boobs in general.
My boobs.
And not my boobs in general.
Just my boobs standing at attention at the most inopportune time, giving the whole world the two-tit salute.

I often have this recurring dream in which I am naked and in a laundry hamper full of socks in the parking lot of my grade school.  As the recess bell rings, all the students rush outside, and see me in the hamper, as I magically rise from the pile of socks, as if I am Lord of Hanes.  I am still naked, and my girls are putting on a show for all the children, as if to say, "hey, it's the middle of December."  Everyone starts pointing and laughing.  And then I wake up.  Sometimes without a shirt.  Which varies from being weird to normal, depending on if I actually wore a shirt to bed.

As if boobs aren't awkward enough, hard-nippled boobs always seem to get gawked at a tad bit more. 

So as I'm standing in my cousin's bathroom today, putting on a bright pink bathing suit that I happened to quickly snag from my sister's room this morning, I realized my first rookie mistake of stealing other peoples' bathing suits:
Before anything, check for padding.
The kids had a pool date scheduled with their friends today, and apparently, my kids had a playdate scheduled with the rest of the world, mainly aimed toward those who frequent the Oldham County Aquatics Center.
Being the innovative young thing that I am, I resorted to the first thing that came to mind.

After shuffling through all of the drawers in the kitchen and rendering the search unsuccessful, I began to get desperate.

"Brendan.  Where do you all keep the duct tape?"

He directed me to the basement, in his dad's workshop, where he was positive I could find some duct tape.  But I was met with another obstacle.  Zach saw me stealthily open the door to the workshop, but made me aware that I wasn't getting out of this unscathed.  This was going to be fun to explain. 

The conversation that ensued:
Z:  What are you doing?
J:  Going in your dad's workshop.
Z:  (confused look, but could also be interpreted as judgmental, scolding, or critical)  Why?
J:  I need duct tape.
Z:  (confused look, but could also be interpreted as judgmental, scolding, or critical)  Why do you need duct tape?
J:  (searching for bullshit...) For, purse.
Z:  Oh.  Okay.

Really?  After that little game of 20 questions, that was the only one that got an 'oh, okay?'

The conversation that would have ensued if it had taken place at my house:
J:  (yelled from the top of the stairs) SOMEONE FIND ME SOME DUCT TAPE BEFORE I RIP MY BATHING SUIT (gestures to erect nipples, to no one in particular, because J is probably the only one paying attention, anyway).

Once inside, I frantically searched for duct tape.  Apparently, he took the day off and electrical tape filled his spot.
This would have to do.
We were leaving in 5 minutes, and I needed to tame the tats before we left the house.
I ducked in the bathroom, cut off 4 strips of black electrical tape, and in straight S&M-style, painted pretty little X's across my naughty bits.
This. Was. Perfect.
We rushed out of the house, and all was well.

Until I took a break at the pool to drain the 4 cups of coffee I had had this morning.
As I came out of the stall and faced the mirror, to my mortification, underneath the hot pink fabric, I could make out two little X's, and in the middle of each X, a fucking bullseye.
Like two little beady eyes, staring straight at me.
As if to say, "where's your hamper now, bitch."

Hypothetically, next time I won't tell the prophet to fuck off.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

'Twenty' rhymes with 'nostalgia'

I'm going to allow myself to be a little vain in this post by congratulating myself on completing 20 years of life.

Congratulations, Jessica, you are an educated, middle-class white girl living in the suburbs that has made it to see age 20.
How rare.

My birthday was pretty uneventful.  At 6:16 a.m., my dad woke me up, because I am still not capable of waking myself up, with the greeting, "good morning, birthday girl!"

To which I hopped out of bed and announced, "I'm going to wear a dress today!"
Like a 7-year old.

I got some pretty cute cards.
Two from my parents, one of which pictured three old women on the front exclaiming, "Tramp!" "Tart!" "Hussy!"
As I cheerily opened the card, it assured me, "It's unanimous--you've still got it!  Happy Birthday."
I'm not quite sure how Sandy Hines let that card slide by, but Bruce thought it was a hoot. 
As did I, Dad, as did I.

The other cards I received were from the kids I babysit--one of which almost made me tear up at the thought he put into his card.

This was Zach's card to me.  All three of them are well aware that I want to go into comedy.  No, it's not like one day I sat them down and said, "look kids, this is my life plan."  No, no.  Nothing like that.  It just came out in a game of truth or dare we played one day underneath a bedroom sheet fort when Zach asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Funny, the things kids remember.

When I was presented with the card, his mom told me, "Zach said this is a picture of you, doing your lifelong dream."

Later that day, I cried on my way home thinking about it.  Yes, I realize this was uncalled for.
It's my party and I'll cry.
No need to finish the rest of the lyric.

What I really wish, though, is if a future me would have send me a letter.  You know, we'll count by decades.  Maybe 30-year old Jessica could slip me some pointers or some hints or even a list of big mistakes that I'll make, even if I'm told to avoid them by a future version of myself.

So, in comemoration of my 20th year, I have decided to write Jessica Hines a letter for her 10th birthday, explaining all the odds and ends of what will go on in the next decade of her life, and give her some sound advice that she probably wouldn't have followed, anyway.  Maybe one day she'll read it. 
I just hope she doesn't shit her pants when she does.

Dear Jessica Hines, 10 years old and full of innocence and wonder,
         First off, I'd like to tell you that slicking back your bangs with hairspray doesn't make you look 'polished' and 'pulled together.' You look like a chubby, bald boy.  So stop it.  Secondly, congratulations, it's your birthday! I know it doesn't see too cool now, but believe me, when you get to be this age, 10 years old sounds pretty nice.  I'm 20 by the way, so I hope I'm two times the girl you are now, even though I probably haven't grown all that much.
          Welcome to the world of double digits, baby.  You're growing up so fast!  I know that recently, you got your first boyfriend, Chase.  Congratulations, but he's going to leave you in about a year for your best friend, who doesn't even really like him, but just wants to date him because you did.  But it's okay.  Because he grows up to almost go blind in one of his eyes when he gets hit with a crowbar in a parking lot scrap.  I know you probably think I'm lying right now.  You're probably saying to yourself, "shut up, future Jessica, he loves me and I love him.  And besides, scrawny white boys with red hair and freckles don't get in 'scraps'."  That's another thing, Little J, you need to learn that you don't date someone just because he looks like he could be your brother--or in this case, your twin brother. 
          Yeah, I know you think he's 'the one' right now, and you think you're going to grow up and get married and pop out a red-headed, freckly baby every June for the first 5 years you've been hitched, but believe me, there are better guys out there.  Just wait, for your one year anniversary, which happens to fall on the same day as the Mt. Carmel picnic and the day before you leave for Florida, he'll give you a box of jewelry that he took off of his mom's dresser that consists of two tarnished necklaces and 7 earrings, only two of which have a match.  You'll try to ask your dad for $20 to give him, to which your mother will scoff, "Jessica, you don't give people money for an anniversary."  Money would have been the best option, considering the gift you'll give him for Christmas this year--a Totally Hits 2001 CD, complete with radio edits. 
          Oh, also, when it comes time for your first kiss--sorry to ruin the surprise--it will be with Chase.  Just do me a favor, please don't capture it on film like I know you're going to.  Kissing in front of all of your fifth grade friends is already embarrassing enough, but committing the act of your first kiss to a photo that will forever sit in the bottom drawer of your dresser, along with other weird pictures you took of yourself making weird faces when you were alone in your room?  I think you've taken it too far.  Oh, and do me another favor, buy a real bra before your first kiss.  Your nipple looks weird under your sports bra in that picture, and it makes you look like you already have a sag going on at the tender age of 10.  It kind of makes me want to call you 'triangle tits'.  And if you're wondering, yes, your boobs get bigger.  By the time you enter 6th grade, you'll be a B cup.  It's called puberty.  Don't worry--you'll learn about it later this year in family life. 
           But with these boobs comes tragedy.  Kaitlin Young will accuse you of stuffing your bra--and everyone will believe her.  Just make sure you don't make a scene and dramatically slam yourself up against a locker, sliding down it to create a puddle of yourself on the ground, and then proceed to cry in front of everyone as they line up for lunch.  Don't embarrass me like that again.  It was bad enough the first time.
          Don't date Austin Shipley in 8th grade, either.  You know Stefanie likes him.  Don't be a bitch, Jess.  It really isn't even worth it.  You guys will kiss, like, 5 times out by the water fountains when you both sneak out of class at choreographed times, but that's really all there is to the relationship.  So don't sell Stef out.  Because you guys will actually still be friends in 10 years.  I know, right?  It's crazy.  So stop calling her Steve like everyone else when you get mad.  And let her fucking sing 'Honey, I'm Home,' at karaoke, dipshit.  It's just a song.  You end up ruining her 11th birthday, because you don't invite her to go to Benchwarmers to sing, but she shows up with her mom and dad, anyway,  so why don't you just avoid that whole awkward situation all together and FUCKING INVITE HER.  And I know right now, you guys are probably in a fight and talking about one another to Madison and Katie in hopes that they will love you and want to hang out with you and let you borrow all of their clothes from Limited Too and ask you to go to Destin for spring break with them.  Well, it doesn't happen, so quit wishing.  Oh, and you're still friends with Katie, too.  You guys are both trying to make it in the performance world.  You're both pretty good, too.
          That's another thing,  you really don't want to be a doctor.  I know right now you're fascinated with blood and naked people in paper gowns, but believe me, all of that will change.  So you may want to go ahead and start working on being funnier.  I know you're at an awkward stage right now, because you're a little chubby in the face, have a big ass gap in your teeth, and think it's cool to grease your hair like you're in the Russian Ballet, but one day, people will actually be laughing at what you say.  Not directly laughing at you.  I know what you want to ask--yes, the gap gets fixed.  You'll get braces in 7th grade, because your parents are sick of listening to you whine about how ugly you are with a gap.  Your face isn't chubby anymore.  But you do still have freckles.  Oh, shut up and quit whining.  They're not bad.  People think they're cute, and they happen to be one of your defining characteristics.  Surprisingly, you grew up to be kind of cute.  Well, relatively.  I mean, if you were at a bar, you could probably get a free drink or two from a sloppy 30-year old who keeps calling you Jennifer.  So you're faring pretty well.
          This is probably really confusing to you right now.  The last thing I would want to receive on my 10th birthday is a letter from the future me.  Or a box of Maxi pads in hopes that I teach myself what to do in case of a bodily emergency.  Don't worry, that comes in March of your 6th grade year.  Thank goodness for family life, though.  Because you wouldn't have known your vagina from a Pillsbury cresent roll. 
          There is so much I could tell you in hopes that you'd do things differently.  Like don't ride that four-wheeler down at rough river on Labor Day weekend of 7th grade.  You'll break your arm and lie to your parents about it, and they won't trust you until your sophomore year of high school.  Or, don't go to Parkridge for Halloween for your 7th grade year--I wish not to elaborate on this story.  Just know that your first tongue-kiss experience was robbed from you.
          That's all I'll say for now, because I don't want to mess up any plans you have to execute all of these things I told you not to do.  Because in perfect honesty, you turned out pretty well so far.  I mean, yeah, you've always been stubborn as shit, and that has always worked against you, but all of the mistakes you've made have led you here.  And I guess here isn't such a bad place.  You're a bit crass and cynical.  And pretty profaine--you should've never told your dad to open the goddamn door in first grade; it started a relationship with vulgar language that you haven't quite been able to shake.  I don't want to give away a lot of the next 10 years, because I don't want to ruin any more surprises.  No, it's not what you're thinking.  You're not pregnant.  Nor have you ever been.  So rest easy about that, sister.
          Keep on doing what you do, and I'll catch up with you in a few years
Love, Jessica Hines, 20 years old, a little less innocent but still fucking wonderful.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


This one will be brief, so try to follow.
I apologize for my shitty, rushed writing.
I don't get much time to sit and think with this babysitting gig.

As a babysitter, my job is not only to watch over children to ensure that they don't burn themselves on the stove, piss their pants, piss on one another, or get locked under the kitchen sink due to a game of hide-n-seek-plus-child-locks gone wrong, but also to make sure that I set an example and act as a responsible and fully capable---
I was going to say adult.
But I won't give myself that much credit.

Along with that, I have to enforce rules.  Which becomes complicated, because I'm not all that good at following them--especially ones that I set for myself.

Like, oh hey, Jessica, don't eat the rest of the Butterfinger ice cream in the freezer, because you know you'll feel like shit afterward and you're thighs won't be thanking you.

Or, how about you only have two drinks tonight, Jessica. Things might get sloppy after that, because we all know that you have the size and alcohol tolerance of a 12 year old.

Naturally, authority comes with respect.

Alright, that's not entirely true.
Not true at all anymore, really.
But for the sake of this anecdote, authority should equal respect.

Since I can't make rules very well, the kids I watch have started to treat me like a Cooler-Older-Cousin figure.
Which is accurate, because that's what I am.
Pro: I have earned the title of the Best Babysitter Ever, probably backed by Good Housekeeping and Redbook.
Con: When I try to enforce rules, they laugh.

Let me set the scene:
As we were sitting at the kitchen table today, post-lunch, coloring books were strewn across the glass that was smeared with pizza sauce, and sticky pygmy-human fingerprints, probably from the doughnuts that I let them have this morning, that I probably shouldn't have.

No, seriously.  Seven-year olds should not be allowed to consume three large, glazed doughnuts in one sitting.
I'll admit, that was irresponsible on my part.

We were singing that God-awful Spongebob F-U-N song. 
Laughter erupted from three little baby-toothed mouths.  More than I had heard all summer.  We were having a great time coloring and making shittily-structured cars out of paper and tapewhen I was faced with something that came sooner than I had hoped it would.
I knew that I would have to deal with it eventually, but I was dreading the day it would inevitably happen.

Like a bomb had dropped, amidst my reckless, childish oblivion.
Fucking Hiroshima.

Audrey, who is about to turn 4, was being drowned out by her brothers and was not able to get in what she needed to say.  I saw the anger in the way she balled up her little fists, and the way she was swatting the air, trying to get our attention.  I stared into the eyes of that three year old, as she stared back.  She knew what she was about to say.  Sweat dripped off my brow.  My pupils dilated.  Rumble in the Jungle Part Two was about to take place.  Little did I know, she was Ali.  And I was fucking George Foreman.
Like a loaded gun, she cocked her smile to the side, stood up on her chair, and proudly yelled,
"Jessica, I think you should lick your peepee."


In that instant, I was introduced into the realm of children and their ever present obsession with peepees.

I sat there for a minute in shock.  Did this three-year old girl just tell me to try to do the unthinkable?
This thought was secured when one of her brothers, with quite an inquisitive face, asked, "is that even possible?  I feel like people can't bend that way.  Jessica, is that possible?" 

This is where my responsible babysitter skills should have come in.  You know, the ones I was talking about earlier?  The ones that I lack.

What did I do?

I laughed.  And then we all laughed.  And then I realized that when she goes to school and tells the little boy that pushes her down on the playground to lick his peepee, and when he tells the teacher, in the back of her mind, she'll remember me smiling, and then stand on her chair and proudly yell, "but Jessica thought it was funny."

Maybe I'll say something to her tomorrow.
But I probably won't.

My parents never taught me about peepees, so I never had that advanced of an insult to hurl at people.
So maybe I'm just jealous about how cultured Audrey is, and also curious about where he's getting such a vocabulary.
We were Catholic.  Like, the if-it-were-sanitary-and-didn't-cause-lady-part-problems-you-would-be-wearing-a-chastity-belt Catholic.
How unfortunate.
That would've tasted great coming out of my three-year old mouth.
That wasn't supposed to be a pun.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Currently, my life is an explosion.  And it's all because I can't just make things easy and like girls.

Men are useless and they ruin lives.  Bold statement. 
I'm sticking by it.
Men are like the shitty kids on the playground who catch ants and pull their legs off one by one, just to see what will happen.
Or the kids that push you down the slide because you're taking too long, and end up breaking your collarbone, because that 'push' was more of a 'pick you up and throw you off.'
Or even worse.
The kids who poop in the sandbox because they think it's so funny to watch the other children play in human feces, realize that it's human feces, and then leave a puke trail on the mulch chips all the way to the bathroom.

All men are good for is contributing to half  (obviously the lesser half) of a baby and keeping the editors of Golf Digest and Hustler in business.
Nothing will change my mind at this point.  No guy is different.  Every guy claiming, "oh, but I'm different," or, "I'm not like most guys," is not any different than the other guys claiming that they're not like most guys.

Don't be shy.  Grow some balls and own up to the fact that you suck.

Say it loud and say it proud:

I am a man.

I am unfeeling and I will never understand emotions, because by the time you're done explaining how you feel, I will already be enveloped in ESPN's top 5 plays of the week, and will not have gathered anything you said.

I don't care if your ass gets wet when I leave the seat up, because it is in my nature to be rude and inconsiderate.

It is also in my nature to not process any valuable information you wish to tell me.  That's why even after you ask me to put the seat down, I won't.

I will forget our anniversary and various other important dates, because milestones in our relationship really don't matter to me, because when we go out to celebrate those events, I'd rather be at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Or fishing.

I will make you fall in love with me, and I will ask for 100% of your commitment and the entirety of your heart, but I hope you understand that I will not give you the same in return. I will keep you tied on that stupid little fucking string that all guys have, and as soon as you start to feel discontent, I'll offer you false promises to reel you back in. I will undoubtedly take advantage of your feelings for me, leaving you feeling like a neglected Tomigotchi.

I will always be right, even when I'm wrong.  Because I am stubborn as shit, and refuse to let anyone threaten my man prowess, even if I need to be put in my place.

I will always put my friends, my job, my dog, my favorite beer, and even my mother before you, because I feel like once I have you, I really don't give a shit if I show you how much I care about you, because you'd overanalyze it anyway.

I will only open the door for you if I feel guilty about cheating on you and never telling you or if I'm buttering you up because I'm about to tell you I cheated on you.

I really do notice all of your physical imperfections, because truly, I am a shallow being.  I just never say anything because you'll stop sleeping with me.

I am selfish, and care about my happiness above yours.  If I hurt your feelings or make you cry, sorry 'boutcha.  It's not my job to foster you back to happiness or talk to you if you're upset.  If you want to talk to someone, go see a therapist, because after all, I am a man.  And I don't understand you at all.  Nor do I ever want to try to.

And because of this, as of now, my life is like throwing a Molotov cocktail at the next door neighbor's cat, missing, then accidentally igniting the whole goddamn backyard, because with your luck, of course it's drought season, which then causes the whole fucking house to be engulfed in flames, which can only end in you not only being charged for animal cruelty and intent to kill, but also arson, which is a felony, which grants you oodles of jail time and 150+ hours of seminars with Smoky the Bear and Sarah McLachlan.  Right as the pile of glowing embers of what used to be a middle-class house in the suburbs starts to slowly burn out, the family pulls up in their navy Honda Odyssey, and the daughter, who is of course in a wheelchair and simultaneously suffering with malignant cancer, announces in her trembling Cockney accent that her life goal was to be a gymnast, and you don't give a shit that that has nothing to do with the fact that you just burned down their fucking house and ruined their lives, but it's just really sad. The mother wraps her perfectly manicured fingers around her family, and proclaims, "at least we still have one another," while you stand there like an asshole on the other side of the fence, holding a lighter and a bottle of Karkov. 

This feeling is what caused my breakdown in the Oldham County YMCA locker room today.

As Audrey, the almost-four-year old girl I babysit, washed the baby pee and chlorine off of herself in one of the showers after her swim lessons, I felt it coming.
That feeling where your face gets really hot, and it feels like you have a lemon stuck in your throat.  I knew I had to take refuge.
So I did what any adult would do, and handled it in a very mature manner.
I curled up in an empty shower stall and began to cry.  This wasn't one of those oh-this-movie-is-really-sad cries.  This was one of the I-could-be-on-a-Spanish-soap-opera cries.
I hadn't truly cried in weeks, apart from tearing up while watching Daddy Daycare and getting weepy while listening to the shitty new almost-accurate-for-every-single-one-of-my-failed-relationships-which-is-pretty-much-all-of-them Rihanna song. 
No, not the one about S&M.
I was doing a pretty good job, considering I'm usually one of those Jack-in-the-Boxes who can barely keep my shit together for a few days, God forbid someone looks at me funny.
'Catharsis,' I believe, is a very fitting term for what I did.
'Being a pussy' would be the more widely understood term.

In the middle of my cry, I started to scavenge through my purse for the jar of peanut butter I faithfully keep in there in case I should ever be stranded.  Or kidnapped. 
I proceeded to sob and dip my entire hand in the jar, forcefully stuffing my mouth while covering the entire bottom half of my face.
Anyone who has ever put money on the impossibility of one fitting a whole fist into his or her mouth would have lost a bet today.
Then I thought about my personal trainer, and what she would have to say about my emotional eating.
I pictured her lifting her perfectly toned quad, flexing her perfectly toned foot, and using all of her perfectly toned goddamn might to kick me in the forehead and calmly relay the message, "Jessica, no one likes a sobbing fat girl.  I hope you plan on running to Iowa tonight, because this little nosh sesh will cost you 6 square inches of cellulite and a pound more of armpit fat.
Which only made me cry more.
And eat more peanut butter.

I'm not even a cute crier.  No glistening teardrops gleaming down my cheeks.  No big, tear-rimmed eyes with lush, damp lashes.  I just end up getting snot everywhere and distorting my mouth into something that resembles a newspaper slot on a front door.  Thank God there wasn't a mirror nearby.  Or else I just would have felt worse.
Which would have only made me cry more.
And eat more peanut butter.

I just realized that whatever spin I put on this, I still sound like the unstable, psychotic girl who cries in public locker rooms.  What a great image I'm creating for myself.
Well, fuck it.  At least I can be honest, right?

When Audrey got out of the shower, she told me I looked sad.
Oh, she knew what was going on. 
Even four-year olds know girl code.
As we walked out of the locker room together, she clung to my leg and looked up at me with a confused look.

And then asked what was on my face.

Fucking peanut butter.

One day, I'll be happier than every single guy who's ever fucked me over or has ever gotten the best of me.  And I'll laugh.
I'll laugh at every single one of them and feel sorry for them.
Because I'll be living in a middle-class house in the suburbs, with my perfect family and my Honda Odyssey.

And my wife and I won't give a fuuuuuuuck.

There I go sounding like a lesbian again.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Do not make me pull this car over

Do not make me pull this car over.

This was probably one of the most prominent phrases of my childhood.

That, and One...TWO....

Car rides were brutal when I was younger.  My sisters, who are both 7 years older than me, (twins, cool, right?) liked to make it known that they were the dominant daughters by subjecting me to inner vehicular torture.  Which everyone knows is the worst kind, because there's nowhere to run.  Unless you have faith in a good landing and the power of prayer, should you try to fling yourself from the sliding door of your mother's burgundy, 1995 Astro van.

Rides home from school were already bad enough.  During the two years that my sisters and I actually went to the same school (God bless the K-8 school system...), we all stayed at Johnson's daycare after school, because our parents were firm believers in accomplishment of natural growth.  And because they both had real 8-5 jobs so they could put all three of their daughters through Catholic school.  We could have ridden the bus, but that was out of the question.  My mother believed that every child who rode the bus would get kidnapped.  At least twice.  And because my parents knew that if my sisters and I were left at home unsupervised, even for the mere 2.6 hours bewteen the time school lets out and the time my parents got home, one or more of us would be dead, while the one or ones of us still alive would be trying to bury the body underneath the swingset in the backyard.
In retrospect, Johnson's was probably a good life decision on my parents part.

During these short 4-6 minute trips home (it always depended on traffic, and that damn light at National Turnpike and Southside Drive), scuffles with the same magnitude as Civil War battles broke out, usually ending with me being defeated, and my head being shoved into a window, or even worse, being shoved into the seat where my sister had just been sitting, only to have her plant her ass on my face.
Oh, there was slapping and pinching and punching and name-calling and complaining and unsolicited tattle-telling.
I remember once, I was singing along to my favorite song at the time--No Scrubs, by TLC, and as soon as I proudly belted the lyric, 'and just sits on his broke-ass,' not really knowing the gravity of what I had just said, my sister shrieked in horror, "WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?! DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?!  DAD, DID YOU HEAR HER?!  SHE CAN'T EVER LISTEN TO THIS STATION AGAAAAAAIN!"

This was what I was dealt.

So, you can imagine, family vacations were no better.
All three of us in the back of the car, screaming over whose turn it is to use the walkman, because we were sick of Mom's George Strait CD.  This was the age when I was beginning to realize that country music sucked, and no matter how impressionable I was, I would no longer allow my mother to brainwash me with twangy tunes such as 'All My Exes Live in Texas.'
Watching us in the backseat was like a live game of Whack-A-Mole, where the mallets were anything from rolled up Seventeen magazines to empty Pringles cans.  Right when things started to turn into a WWE (yes, before it was WWF) Smackdown, that's when you'd hear it.
That simple phrase that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
The phrase that would make any disobedient 6 year old perk up and kiss any ass that needed kissing.

Do not make me pull this car over.

It wasn't just the words that scared me.  It was the persona they took on.  You know, like those ugly little brown mushroom things in all the Super Mario games.  I felt like my imminent death by frowny-face, angry-brow mushrooms would follow if I didn't shape up.  Maybe it was just the fact that my dad actually looked like one of the frowny-face, angry-brow mushrooms when he said it.  On occasion my mom would try to say it, but we never took her seriously.  I mean, she listened to country music.  How threatening could she be? 
And she didn't look like a mushroom.

I must admit, my disposition back then didn't work in my favor, much as it doesn't now; stubborn as shit and always looking to get the last words.  I always liked to push things as far as I could without facing the repercussions.  I liked to test him to see if he was bullshitting.  Hmm guess you can't teach an old dogs new tricks, or something like that.

My father is many things, but he is not a bullshitter.  These threats always ended in--surprise--my dad pulling over the car and keeping his word, and if I got lucky I would be dragged out of the sliding door of that goddamn Astro van and spanked roadside, being made an example of for all of those other unruly vacation-bound children.  As if my dad were saying, 'PARENTS OF THE INTERSTATE: IF I CAN HIT MY CHILD ON THE SHOULDER OF I-65, YOU. CAN. TOO!"

I probably deserved it half of the time.  I was the epitome of the annoying little sister who deserved a beating.  Or so I've been told by my sisters.  I like to pretend that I have no recollection of my reign of terror from ages 6-10.  In my defense, they're stubborn as shit too. And since they've always been older, they knew how to accurately plot against me and make everything look like my fault.  They casted the line, and I took the bait.

Every. Single. Time.

I promised myself that I would never use that ominous line that makes all children shiver.  I would never threaten to pull a car over and endanger the lives of all highway inhabitants by my reckless, impulsive attempt to win the respect of a couple of kids.  How un-American.  What an act of terrorism.  It's repulsive.


Guess what.

I said it.

Behind the wheel of my cousin's burgundy Honda Pilot, I said it.

Do not make me pull this car over.

Audrey, Zach and Brendan, the kids I babysit, sat in the backseat while we were on our way to Louisville Gymnastics.  As Audrey and Zach engaged in a full-on smack battle, I pleaded for them to stop.
Zach, you're older.  You know better.  Audrey, quit egging your brother on.
Brendan, the third party, tried to help with my attempt for detente.  Guys, stop, listen to Jessica.
Tensions started to boil over.  I heard the smacks getting harder.  I saw arms flailing in the backseat.  The car filled with the smell of angry children--somewhat of a cross between string cheese and fingerpaint. 
From somewhere deep within my soul, the words came out, like a loaded gun.

Do not make me pull this car over.
If you don't stop, I will pull over right now, and we will be late to gymnastics.  Do you understand?

Secretly, I hoped they would stop.  I had no intentions of pulling the car over.  Especially on I-71.  I know this makes me a bullshitter, but I couldn't be proven to be a spineless, bullshitting babysitter if they stopped, right?

I peeked in the rearview mirror.  To my relief, they had stopped.  They sat there with their little faces looking ashamed and defeated.  I felt kind of bad.  I didn't want to be the enemy.  Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Fucking angry brows.

I may have inherited many things from my father, but being a bullshitter is not one of them.