Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Jane has a fight with her jacket

Winter needs to end, and here's how I know: My one friend Jane is fighting a pitched battle against her own coat.

The coat in question is long, down to Jane's ankles, and quilted, and puffy, and huge. Jane bought the coat because she was tired of complaining about being freezing all the time. With this coat, she thought, she could wait for the bus to work, hail cabs outside of bars, and wait outside people's apartments while they looked for their pants, without having to do that jiggedy up-and-down "I have to pee" dance of coldness that all New Englanders have perfected over the years.

And it worked. At first.

Jane and I would go out, she in her big puffy coat, me in my green vinyl car-seat trench, and she'd be warm as toast and somewhat disdainful while I did my dance.

"But I love this coat. It looks so cool," I'd tell her.

"No one looks cool doing that dance thing," she said.

But then, the coat turned on her. One day, quite recently, while getting ready for work, Jane went to her closet to put on her coat, and burst into tears.

"I can't take it anymore," she said. "It's so fucking HEAVY. It's BREAKING MY BACK."

Because I don't believe in insulting your intelligence, I'll just tell you flat out: that coat had metamorphasized from an innocent article of clothing into a full-blown metaphor. It had become twenty pounds of goose down, and a bad case of spring fever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Christ on us all

I have never been religious in the commonly accepted sense of the word. I have my own spiritual beliefs, sure, but I have enough sense to keep them to myself, and I've never been one to bandy God's name about as if he just stopped by to borrow some CDs or something. On the other hand, I don't believe in sacred cows, if you'll allow me to mix mystical metaphors for a mo'. Whatever else I believe, I'll tell you this: I'm pretty sure the Big Guy has a sense of humor.

My unique perspective on the Almighty was not appreciated when I was growing up. My Mom, while not precisely churchy, was a big believer in Old Skool Jesus. (You know: the one in the Kangols and the fat-lace Pumas. "Jesus Krist -- K's for the Kaaangols that I wear...") My best friend and partner in crime while I was growing up was Jewish, and so not overly impressed with Jesus and his entourage. So it was only natural, given our innate silliness, and my disrespectful 'tude, and her non-Christ-oriented background, that we would offend my mother's sensibilities at some point.

It started innocently enough, as many '80s highjinks did, with "Crocodile Dundee." Sarah and I were sitting around my livingroom, watching "Crocodile Dundee" on our VCR for about the hundredth time and feeling bored, when she remarked, "This movie is boring. Christ on this movie."

I looked up from my enormous bowl of popcorn and said, "Christ on the what? That doesn't make any sense. That's not even the right way you're supposed to swear."

"Why not?" Sarah said. And so it started.

The scene changed, and we were looking at a cityscape. "Christ on that building!" I said.

"Christ on that bus!"

"Christ on that hooker and her plastic bust!"

"What if Christ really did come down-"

"-on a cross!"


"And smashed everything!"


"Christ on YOU!"

We were in sacrilegious hysterics.Finally, my Mom came in and asked what was so funny. Being a total idiot, I told her.The rictus of false mirth that stole over her face then is best described, not seen. It took years off my life, I'll tell you.

"Jennifer, can you come in the kitchen for a minute." I followed her into the other room. Ten feet away, by the way. Sarah could hear everything.

Her voice dropped to a hiss as soon as we were alone. "I think you're treading on mighty thin ice, missy," she said.

"Why? Because we made a joke?"

"A joke about JESUS. If I were you...I'd be a little nervous, that's all."

"What about Sarah? Is she treading on thin ice?"

"Sarah is Jewish."

"So it doesn't count? That's ridiculous. Either it's wrong for both of us, or it's wrong for neither."

The conversation ended shortly after that, but despite my sassiness, I didn't have the heart for the joke any more. I was nervous about that thin ice, and my immortal soul, and a Jesus who might not like my sense of humor...and I still am. But here's the thing...I still can't resist. Christ on you!

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

More ruminations on the car

I have automotive hypochondria. Whenever I'm feeling anxious about anything, which is most of the time, I hear strange sounds coming from my car. Metal on metal sounds. Expensive, life-threatening kinds of sounds. If you're driving with me, be forewarned: at some point, I will ask you if you "hear that." You will not hear what I hear. Our conversation will go like this:

ME: Do you hear that noise?

YOU: What noise?

ME: That sort of...grindy noise.

YOU: I don't hear any noise.

ME: It's almost more of a screech. Maybe it's a belt or something. Here, let me turn down the radio.

YOU: I don't...hey, that's my favorite song.

ME: Shh, listen. This could be important.

This one time, though, I asked my friend Kate if she "heard that", and she said yes, and I got really mad and told her that there was nothing wrong with my car, and she was a crazy person, and that I didn't have any money anyway and what did she expect me to do about it? I think I had PMS or something. Anyway, she apologized, like you do when crazy people act crazy, and then a month later my wheel fell off. No word of a lie, dude.

Waistline update

You guys, I am so fat right now. The StooperBowl did me in. I drank about a gallon of beer and ate corn chips and salsa with avocado and mac n cheese and chili and cornbread and a whole bunch of sugary cashew snacks and whoa. If you hear a ripping sound, it's totally my pants, but don't say anything about it, because I'm sensitive.

Sad but true things: Automotive series

So, my car shit the bed this weekend, and I had to have it towed to the shop and I was without wheels and totally reliant on Boston's sad, sad excuse for public transportation all weekend long. I got it back yesterday. It works now, as it should after 500 BUCKS worth of repairs. Unfortuately, during the night someone sideswiped it out in front of my house and now it has a gash in the side.

This is okay, really, because it's just further proof of something that I have always known -- namely, that I am not meant to drive a car. I've never really taken to driving in a big way. When I was 16, all my friends had their license eligibility date circled in red on their calendars. Mine was crossed out in funereal black. I had no idea where my car was on the road, and I drove at 15 miles an hour. A driver's ed teacher actually told me that I drove like a stoned person. Also, I have no sense of direction. At any given time, I can remember how to drive to about three places. If I learn a new route, I forget one of the ones I already know.

A couple years ago I read an article about Ray Bradbury that said that he had never learned to drive because all he could think about was the accidents he might cause behind the wheel. So perhaps the problem is one of too much imagination. Anyway, like horses, cars know when you don't really like them. Mine is on strike apparently, and won't give up until I either go broke, or until I cave in and move to a city with reliable subway systems and forget about driving altogether.