I Broke Him…

I had to console a teen grocery clerk over my divorce. Sorta. Lemme ‘splain:

So I was checking out and the kid was way excited about everything.

The woman in front of me with the cart full of groceries and kids had amassed 160 grocery points and smugly looked at me and said “I guess I’ll be back to get free stuff!” He said “Yeah! Winning!”

Next he picked up my jug of iced tea and sang the “unsweetened iced tea” song. Then he made it dance on the counter and asked if I’d be drinking it with sugar cookies. I laughed and said no, it would have to find the tools to survive solo. He rang up my total and said “You’ve got…. Oh. 15 points.” He made a sad face.

I said “Yeah, I don’t shop that much.” He said “Oh – no shame, no shame.” I was still looking at the receipt and without thinking said “well, when you don’t have a family…”

Silence. I look up and the kid has TEARS in his eyes. On his face. “I’M SO SORRY,” he says.

“No. It’s okay. I’m divorced.”

“Oh. That’s TERRIBLE!”

“What? No – it’s fine. I promise. I just meant that it’s not like I lost my family. We never had kids.”

“No kids?! But it’s Christmas… ”

At this point I feel Iike I broke him.

“Yeah… I have a super cute dog though. I swear. Massive ears. It’s okay. Really. Uhm… Have a great night.” I ran.

I posted this story on Facebook, and some of my friends – well, their responses were fantastic.

You should have just kept going and destroyed him…..SWEEP THE LEG!!!

We do not train to be merciful here – mercy is for the weak!

FINISH HIM!!!!!!!

I love my terrible, awesome, idiot friends.

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Planet Comicon

So it’s been a bit since my last post – mostly because of Planet Comicon.  That’s the local Kansas City pop culture convention that’s sort of like the San Diego mega-show but on a much more modest scale.

I went dressed as Agent Carter with a friend who was dressed as a classic BSG Cylon.  carter-cylon-only

I was his handler because, well, he needed one. It’s probably pretty obvious that visibility is not a premium in that suit, and he also had the “whom whom” cylon eye sound effect playing such that hearing wasn’t great. The upshot was that he was basically a walking bowling pin and would have probably killed himself and maybe others if I (or my equivalent) hadn’t been there to help him out. As a bonus I got to boot children out of the way if they dove in front of him or tried to hug his legs – so WIN.

It was a BLAST.  There were a few goofy moments, though, if I am being honest.

  1. 1. So yeah – I am wearing a big red hat.  For the record, I LOVE this hat.  I’ll probably wear it just because.  Also, I may well become a hat-wearer as a result of this hat. BUT, here’s the thing.  People are terrible and apparently don’t know the difference between pop culture figures who wear red hats.  The cylon, being funny, said the hat would be great and easy for him to follow, and called me Carmen Sandiego before we got started – knowing full well who I was. I gave him a look.  I am well known for my looks. One friend calls this particular look “The Eye of Sauron.” Cylon laughed at it, because my looks don’t do much once you’re used to them, and the Cylon gets my looks a LOT. But he understood that I was not best pleased. He just didn’t care. Which is fine. Unfortunately, when we got to the entrance of the convention center, the VERY FIRST person who wanted his photo (and we’ll come back to that HIS photo thing) said “Hey! It’s CARMEN SANDIEGO! Someone found her!” I looked at the Cylon – who I had taken to calling Cylon Gary (it’s a YouTube show from the 90s – check it out if you’ve not seen it) – and just said “Don’t. Just, don’t.” This was more than a look. It was also a tone. Sadly, my tones also have very little effect on Cylon Gary at this juncture. So, more laughter. His stupid armor was shaking he was laughing so hard. Idiot. Anyway, so I got called Carmen Sandiego two more times there, which was three times too many. Gary wouldn’t let me throat punch people. Stupid Cylon.
  2. It was sort of an “always a bridesmaid” experience. People would come up and ask “Hey! Can I get your picture?” I would say “Sure!” because Gary didn’t even know we’d been asked a question. And then they would say “Oh….I meant just the Cylon…” Of course they did. Now, that made it all the sweeter when someone said “OHMYGOSHAGENTCARTER!!!! Can I please get a picture with you!” And that DID occasionally happen. Just not with the same frequency as did “WOW! That Cylon is AMAZING!” But honestly it was super fun and awesome to walk around with such a great and popular costume.
  3. I discovered I am STUPID. Like, just, irredeemably DUMB.  I honestly believed that my problem as I decided to start dating and whatnot would be making a string of TERRIBLE CHOICES.  That my friends would need to follow me around like I was a toddler in some sort of nightmarish childproof testing facility shouting “NONONONO! Take that out of your mouth! That is NOT for you! Put that down! You do NOT want that!” Turns out it’s more likely they will have to place me bodily in front of eligible dating candidates and helpfully murmur “Go on, honey, tell him your name.” I was working at a booth where we were giving away books to promote sci-fi and fantasy literacy and interest, which was AMAZING. This guy came up to the booth with who I thought was his girlfriend. He was super cute and age appropriate and had a master’s degree and was adorable – but I honestly thought, again, that he had a girlfriend. So I wasn’t even thinking about romance. He asked if I would be there all day. I gave him the normal spiel about taking two books now and coming back later for more because we would not remember him. He nodded, looking confused, and asked again if I would be there later. I honestly thought “Wow. What an idiot. He’s not getting that he can have more books!” So I explained again, with more clarity. About the books. And laughed and joked because that is what I do. Then he shook his head and said “Will you be here tomorrow?” I said “Oh! We’ll be here all weekend.” He said “But will YOU be here tomorrow?” I said “Oh, yeah – but I won’t be HERE here because I’ll be dressed as Agent Carter and helping my friend dressed as a Cylon -Oh! You should look for us, because the Cylon costume is AMAZING!” He said “Oh. Okay. I will do that. But will you be back on Sunday?” “Oh, yeah – definitely. Not sure what time though.  And you can totally get more books!”  Eventually he wandered off, no doubt thinking I was the biggest idiot ever. One of the women at the booth walked up going “That was so CUTE! The way he was hitting on you!” What with the WHAT now?  And then I replayed the whole thing in my head, and realized the girl with him looked a LOT like him, and maybe he would not have teased his girlfriend about being stupid….  OH MY GAWD. So….yeah.  Idiot.

 

Furniture Porn

 

I have probably mentioned at some point previously that I am in a writing group. If not – well, I’m in a writing group.

The group has been together much longer than most writing groups last. Most such creative collectives implode due to “creative differences” after between 12 and 18 months. We’ve been together for nearly a decade. Technically, some of us have been together longer, but the group under its current name will celebrate its ten-year anniversary in September.

There were six of us who were members of another group first. That group was populated by us, plus Dr. Phil (no relation), Martha, and Becky – the leader. We were content with the other group until,  well, Becky went full goose gone-zo crazy one meeting and kicked out one of the six. For asking a question. So the six of us said “uhm…wut?”  And we got told that if we asked questions, we were out, too.  So we said “okeydoke” and left. We invited Dr. Phil and Martha, but they thought that Becky was the better option (no clue), and stuck with her. That group imploded about a year later.

A guy named Jeff ran our splinter group. We almost immediately added about six more people. Jeff continued to helm the group for about two years until his kids reached that age where they did ALL the things – soccer and robot camp and whatever, so then he decided to step down and hand the reins to someone else. The someone else he chose was me. He bequeathed the group to me.

I did not want it.

See, running a writing group is like being a cat herder, ringmaster, and glorified playground monitor. But not as glamorous.

People worry about weird shit.

And they tell you about it.

In emails. And texts. And occasionally in passive-agressive post-its left on your notebook or purse for you to find a week later when you go to pay the water bill.

But Jeff insisted that I was the perfect candidate for the job. Also he threatened to give it to this other guy – Joe – if I did not take it. That would have been BAD.  He did that on purpose. Because Jeff is a nice guy, but also a manipulative weasel.  And for the record, Joe is also awesome.  But terrifying. Not really warm fuzzy. And he plays the accordion. You see my dilemma.

So I took it.

And the group has been under my…..uhm….direction? Ever since. I don’t do anything except keep the whole thing from going up in flames, though.  Truly.  All I do is smooth over disputes and make sure we have somewhere to meet and make sure we have people’s work to be read and get us tables at conventions and answer PR questions from newspapers who hear about us and pay any dues to websites and write copy for our pages and….yeah.  Okay.  So maybe I do stuff.

But I do it because I love these guys.  Most of them are family at this point.  Even the newest ones who have become regulars.  Some are literal family – my cousin (who is more like a brother) is a member. The rest are family because we’ve become so close that I can’t imagine not seeing them as often as I do.

But I think it’s easy to forget how much people mean to you or how much they care by virtue of just seeing them all the time.

But these idiots reminded me the other night.

I had to miss a meeting.

I don’t do that.

I have not missed ONE meeting since 2012 when I stopped teaching adjunct courses. Not one. But I am working on a conference presentation for an event in August, and I needed to do some prep work with a colleague, so I did.

Now, I am a BIT persnickety about where I sit at meetings. I have a chair. I like that chair. It’s MY chair. Well, it’s less the chair than it is the SPOT where the chair sits. Once, more than four years ago, the last time I was gone, Byron sat in my chair. He SHOULD NOT have done that. It’s been forgiven. Mostly. No, truly. I think.

But anyway, that’s in the past. The POINT is, that this time, Maddie asked “Who gets to sit in your chair. I responded, and I quote, “NO ONE SITS IN MY CHAIR.”

I fully anticipated this would generate some silliness.

What I did NOT expect was to be greeted the next morning by a parade of photos depicting a Murder on the Orient Express-esque crime of defilement against that innocent piece of furniture. They even got our regular waitress to pose with the chair. I had no idea some of our members were that limber.

As I laughed (and cringed) my way through the pictures, though, I realized how very much these weirdos meant to me. How lost I would be without them. And how much I needed them to care about me enough to screw with me this diabolically. Thank god for sick, twisted, horrible people who love you enough to fuck with you like my writing peeps do me. But seriously – someone needs to clean that chair….

A Fanciful Yarn

Some of the posts in here are just, you know, stuff that happens to me. My friend Michelle posited all the way back in high school that she and I and another friend – Tracy – were what she called “chaos magnets. I am not sure this is exactly the case. Sure, I can own that a LOT of bizarre things have happened to me. To us. How many people have ended up stranded in an elevator with an FBI’s most wanted fugitive?

Mostly, though, I think that I tend to NOTICE things and appreciate the ridiculous. In gaming it would be called perception, or a spot check. I see stuff. I remember I was sitting in a Sonic once and caught something out of the corner of my eye that my brain registered initially as a “really weird dog” in the car next to me. I think that a lot of people would have just gone with that, because there’s not a strong enough alarm that sounds that makes you go “wait……….”

Me? I had to verify. It was NOT a weird dog. It was a goat. The family in the station wagon next to me had a (presumably) pet got riding in their car. In a little dog seat carrier thing. It turned it’s head and looked at me and did the little goat “mblaaaaaaaa” thing. The little girl fed it a tater tot.

It was not obtrusive. It was not loud. It was not an in-your-face goat. But, I mean, goat. In a car. Car-goat. Weird, right?

So that is what I think generally happens. I just notice things. And I have a well-enough developed sense of the ridiculous that I ENJOY them and watch long enough for something interesting to happen.

Such was how things went down at the yarn store a few months ago.

I have a full width, partial thickness tear in my rotator cuff tendon. It’s probably a residual injury from when I played tennis. I thought I was going to have to have surgery on it, which would have meant seriously limited mobility during recovery.  That would have made me crazy – having nothing I could do.  So I taught myself to knit.

In the course of my knitting, I started frequenting a local yarn store. It’s a really nice little place with a super helpful staff and a wide selection of yarn and needles and other supplies. I’ve been in there a few times when a customer asked for something a bit outside the ordinary – like the people who wanted bison mane yarn. Because that’s apparently a thing. The clerks are always very friendly and seem to usually send them off to a yarn store in a nearby college town when that happens. I kind of want to go see this crazy college town yarn store at some point just to find out if they really carry this nonsense or if that’s just the standard ZOMGWTFBBQgettheseweirdosoutofhere response.

On this day I was back looking at the sock yarn display, which is a large-ish shelf. A woman came in with several obviously well-used, good-sized shopping bags from other stores, and if you’ve ever worked retail (I have), you know this is a Very Bad Thing.

She approached the clerk at the counter.

Customer: “I was wondering how much it would cost to get some yarn made from custom fibers.”

Clerk: “Sorry, what?”

I want to point out here that the clerk in question is among THE NICEST PEOPLE in the world. Truly. She is sweet, and kind, and soft-spoken, and really just loves needlecraft.

Customer: “I have some materials – fibers – and I want to have them spun into yarn. What do you charge?” *pulls 1 gallon ziplock baggy labeled WINKIE in black sharpie out of sack and waves it at clerk – bag is filled with greyish-white fluff*

Clerk: “Oh…..well….we don’t do that. I’m sorry. We don’t even sell the equipment to spin–”

Customer: “You’re a yarn store.”

Clerk: “Yes. But we SELL yarn, we don’t MAKE yarn…”

Customer: “You should have the materials.”

Clerk: “Well, I know that might seem confusing…”

Customer: “It’s my cat’s fur. She’s getting old and I want to spin it into yarn so I can make a sweater.”

Clerk: “…..Okay. Well, I don’t know if cat fur is – ”

Customer: “She’s a LONG HAIRED CAT. I’m SURE it will be fine.”

Clerk: “Uhm…well, yes, but we SELL yarn, we don’t MAKE yarn.”

Customer: “Well what I am supposed to DO with this then?”

Now, while the store is a retail establishment, it’s also a little social club of sorts, and there are always a few women in there sitting around a large table knitting.  The Grande Dame of the circle is this elderly lady who always wears a big fuck off hat with flowers on it – she has one that matches every outfit she owns – and large glasses on a beaded cord and she SEEMS like just the sweetest little thing you set eyes on.  She does SEEM like that.

Sassy Broad in Hat: “I’ll tell you what you can do with that crap…”

Clerk: *chokes* “Uhm…Maybe  you can try the Redacted Store in College Town. I think they might do spinning.”