Secrets and Lies
On the spur of the moment, my husband and I raced in a speedboat with our two best friends to Bimini in the Bahamas to skin dive, fish and enjoy the sun and the beautiful white sand beaches. The first thing we did was hit the bars for rum and conch chowder and camaraderie with the Bahamians who resided on the island. Our skin diving business was in the Bahamas but this trip was pure pleasure.
Stingray was a muscular man with a completely bald head and beautiful brown eyes with long lashes. Because he was a complete flirt, I valiantly tried to keep him at arm’s length so my husband wouldn’t get jealous. He was married for the fourth time to Kimmy, a blowsy blonde who was a lot of fun but a complete alcoholic. After a while, Kimmy said in her slurred voice that she and Stingray were going to the other side of the island where the white powder sands and turquoise waters were calling to them.
I finished my conversation with a Bahamian friend and then told my husband I was going back to the motel to change into my bathing suit. We were sharing a suite with our friends with two bedrooms and a bathroom in the middle dividing the rooms. I walked into our bedroom and stripped off my clothes, then remembered that I had lent Kimmy my hairbrush that was now in her bedroom. Since I was alone, I walked through the bathroom into their bedroom and was clear across the room when I noticed it was occupied.
There on the bed, nude, were Stingray , butt in the air, and an exposed but oblivious Kimmy, in the throes of passionate sex. Unfortunately, they noticed me at the same time as I noticed them so I couldn’t sneak back out!
There we were, three nude friends, looking at each other with shocked red faces. My only alternative was to walk back through the room, past their bed, into my room where I grabbed a towel and then rolled on my bed, laughing my head off. I could hear the two of them joining me in the laughter. I would tell you that we no longer had any secrets but we did keep one very big one. We never told my jealous husband.
My car pulls up next to a gas pump and my dad gets out to pump the gas. We were on the way to a friends house and needed some gas. Dad starts to pump the gas and then he goes inside to get a bag of chips or something. Mom, not knowing that he had gone inside the store, started to panic.
"Where did your Dad go?" She asks turning to look out the back and around another car.
"He went inside," I answer not really knowing why she is panicking.
"He what?! He doesn't need to be wasting money!" Mom says. Moms big on saving money. I roll my eyes and look out the window. Mom starts to text someone so she doesn't see it when Dad comes out of the store. He washes the side windows and then goes to finish the gas. He gets in a conversation with the guy next to us, and they chat for a minute or two.
"Where's your Dad?" Mom asks again. This time she looks toward the door of the building. "Is he still inside?"
"No, he's pumping the gas now," I look back from the window and am just in time to see him say good-bye to the person he had been talking to. He goes to throw away a paper-towel and starts to come back. I look down on my seat to see if I brought a book to read. I look up and see something disappear in my peripheral vision. I look back down and sigh. No book.
"Is your Dad still pumping the gas?" Mom asks. She doesn't even look up from her "novel". (It takes her so long to text.)
"No, he went to throw away something and I don't know where he is now," I say. I shrug and then look at the guy Dad had been talking to.
"Are you okay, sir?" I hear him say. I look out my window towards the ground and start laughing.
"What's so funny?" my sister says as she takes her earbuds out. She turns to where I'm pointing and starts to laugh also.
"I'm fine," I hear my Dad say. "Thanks though."
"What happen?" Mom asks.
"He fell!" my sister and I saw in unison.
"What?" Mom asks confused. I point toward the ground. Mom looks over and points and laughs. Dad lay on his side on the ground, propping his head up with his arm. "Get up," Mom says. She pushes the door open and Dad climbs in after finishing the gas.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, don't miss Dads Disappearing Act!" my sister says like a circus announcer. We all break out laughing and I know we aren't going to let this one go.
Eat'n Park was a stupid place to eat for two reasons. First, it was a cheap knock off of my own first and middle name, Ethan Parke, and my younger brother would always call me that with the ever so slightest hint of some stereotypical asian accent. Second, because why would you eat first, and then park? Unless you were eating food from some other place..
"We should eat there today," Lisa suggested. "I hear the salad bar is good." I roll my eyes and stare out of the window of our car.
"You can eat a salad at home, Lisa. We actually clean our lettuce."
"But I don't feel like making anything tonight. And besides, it's something new."
So we went to Eat'n Park. Got seated at a booth in the back by a window. Our waitress was a blonde girl. She said her name, but I forgot it as soon as she had said it, and I never bothered to look at her name tag. I ordered a like breakfast slam burger or something, it was called, because they put like an egg and hash browns on it or something, and an orange juice, since Lisa said "we already had had enough soda to drink for today." She took Marc's and Lisa's order, and then left.
"I'm so hungry." Marc said.
"Uh huh," I grabbed my straw and started peeling the wrapper off it, rolling it into little balls then playing a game of hockey with myself. "I have never had a burger with an egg on it. Or maybe I have once, at like Denny's."
"Ew," Lisa scrunched her face. "An egg on a burger? That's disgusting."
"You would eat an egg with pancakes, or one of those McDonald's Mcmuffins or whatever they're called. I don't see what's different here. Maybe fries I guess." She shrugged.
We sat for a bit more, then the lady returned with our meals. I was surprised that the food looked somewhat stomach-able. The kaiser bun was buttered, and the actual patty was flavorful, which came as a surprise to me, considering I was spoiled off of Five Guys.
"This thing is life changing." Marc, who got the same thing as me, had egg yolk dripping down his jaw.
"Wipe your face," I handed him a napkin.
"I can't accept that." He made a face.
"You need it though, nasty."
"Look at yourself! You need it more." I looked at my hand, which was also covered in sticky yolk. I hadn't even noticed.
"You should go wash them." I nodded and stood up.
Before I relay to you the events that followed, you need to understand a little bit about building layout. Now, I'm no architect, but I'm pretty sure it's a good idea to have some sort of buffer between the kitchen and the hallway, so that it's painfully apparent that food servers are constantly coming in and out with hot plates.
But of course, I didn't think about any of this until I saw the macaroni fly out of the waitresses hand and splatter all over the wall. The blonde waitress, whose name I forgot.
I didn't see her coming out. She appeared out of no where and then we were practically in embrace, the entire tray of food she's carrying for the family at the table 3 feet from us was now part of the art collection hanging on the wall. For the slightest second no one moved. My face burned and cold green beans slid off my pants.
"I am so sorry." I could only breathe out a syllable at a time. All around me was about 45 dollars of food wasted, plus tip. The family left, and I vowed to never set foot in an Eat'n Park ever again.
Mom, The Kidnapper
The marketplace bustled with car honks, chattering people, hawkers and robust children. I was seven years old and clutched my mother’s hand like a drowning person would grab a lifeboat. She pointed out fluffy dresses and said that she would buy them later for me. Uninterested, I would simply hum in agreement; I have always hated crowded places.
We strolled around for a while and browsed a few shops before we decided to buy a dress. She intricately examined the fabric and the price-tags. Before I knew it, mom had paid for the dress and was heading down the steps.
Distracted by the fifty-percent off sale, she wasn’t aware that I was not standing right next to her. A little girl was near her and absentmindedly, she grasped the girl’s hand and tugged, assuming it was my hand. To my surprise, the girl began to wail thunderously and drew the attention of everyone. After mom realized it was someone else, she withdrew her hand.
The girl’s mother glared at my mom as she suspected that mom was trying to abduct her child. She began to yell profanities and I raced to the spot to hold my mom’s hand. After she saw me, she stopped muttering offensive words and understood that it was a misunderstanding. My mother explained and then, both of them laughed it off.
Mom often joked about trading me for a better kid and after this incident; I clung to her in markets and tried to appreciate shopping.
Learning to ride
It was an early evening of the summer of 1997. I had entered my teens and was late by different standards in learning one of the most crucial life-skills. To ride a bicycle.
So on this particular evening, I gulped down my glass of milk. As the milk travelled through the food pipe into my gut, I felt like a cousin of Popeye, growing strong every moment. Milk was my manna from heaven.
I walked out my aunty's home, where we were staying for the summer vacation. There was a bicycle rental place nearby. I reached there.
The place boasted of an assortment of bicycles in various sizes. I closely scrutinised all the available samples.
At 4'6" around that time, I knew I couldn't take the adult size bicycle. So I decided to go for a red-coloured mid-sized one.
I was excited to immediately ride back home on it. But, I still needed to learn how to!!
In order that I wouldn't turn myself into a spectacle, I just walked with it towards my aunt's home.
And thus started my tryst with learning the bicycle on that day.
Did I mention yet, I'm a fast learner? Ummm...or let's say an impatient one.
It had been an hour of plodding with no results. It was going to turn dark soon. The bicycle would have to be returned.
I would have to sleep through a night of failure!!!!
Dejection was turning to frustration. I took the bicycle inside my aunt's house and to the backyard where my mom sat on a charpoy.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I said I was unable to learn riding a bicycle.
My mom laughed and said you just started learning. Do it tomorrow.
My frustration gave way to ire. I saw my Popeye muscles building in my arms. I picked up the bicycle above my head and threw it with all my force.
My mom got up from the charpoy. She came near me and the next I remember is the tightest ever slap.
She said, "pick up this bicycle and return it. But, don't see me or talk to me till you've learned."
And so, I picked up the bicycle and walked to the gate.
My mom's slap actually hurt my pride. I had to show her that I could do it.
I took the bicycle to the slope at the gate to give it the natural push and momentum. As soon as it was in motion, I started pedalling.
It was almost like magic that the bicycle balanced itself and I rode my first few meters.
The milk, the muscles, and the slap had worked their charm!
French Uno is Called Une
French Uno is meant to be taken seriously.
I'm fortunate enough to be a teacher's pet. Technically, I'm not, however my class is filled to the brim with disrespectful heathens, therefore I'm trapped within the braced-up, purple banded jaws of the looming teacher's pet. As the teacher's pet, I'm awarded the luxury of doing whatever I want with no complaints from Madame Roller (who is Québecois, not Francophone, which is a bit irritating at times).
I sit down at a square of desks pushed together for the sake of the game, my closest friends already sitting at each desk. Kadasia beckons me over with wild hand gestures, Gillian aiding by rapidly tapping the empty desk before someone undesirable took the seat. Alicia, the calm one who I remark as Jesus Christ sometimes, looks at me with desperate eyes, eyes that fall back and forth from the desk to me. Smiling, I sit down and my friends relax. We chat idly for the next ten minutes about the tests coming up in our next classes, boys, and how frustrating it is that our hour lunch was taken away. Our school had nine fights in two days the week before, so Wolverine Time was stripped from us until after Spring Break. That was a recipe for disaster considering how my class acts and how Ms. Roller has no idea how to control the bad seeds.
Ms. Roller shouts (Alicia and I swear that all people from New Jersey shout in order to piece together a proper conversation) the directions for the game. It's like Uno, only that there are multiple more shades of blue that can be mistaken for purple and green. And in order to get rid of our cards, we have to piece together the irregular verb given with a phrase in the subjunctif. Nothing I'm awful at, mind you. I've always been great at French, so the rules of the game were nothing to me.
It was the fact that I was grouped together with my friends that made this game difficult. "Fuck me up the ass!" Alicia, my sober companion, shakes her head at me with a tiny smile as Gillian throws down her card into the stack. I have probably a dozen or more so cards while Kadasia has even more than that. Alicia has five and Gillian is stuck with two.
"Oh!" Gillian shouts, a grin on her face while her pink-dyed hair falls into her mouth. She has to spit out before reciting the sentence she came up with. "Il faut que je pussy me devoir!" Pussy became the nickname for puisse, the subjuntive for pouvoir. How it became that way, only God (or Alicia) can tell. Gillian, with one card down, exclaims, "UNE!"
"Motherfucker!" Kadasia screams, going through her deck due to her being next in our circle of desks. She gasps and slams down a 'draw two' card. "Il faut que nous puissons ses travaille!"
Alicia, the quiet one (bless her), puts down a 'draw two' almost instantly, not even bothering to say a sentence due to her face inflating with red and her vocal cords tangled with silenced laughter.
I quickly transverse my deck, praying for a 'draw two.' I find one, and it's blue. Or purple. Or green. Whatever it is, I slam into onto the deck hard enough that my fingers ache with a sharp pain. "HA!" I yell, "DRAW SIX BITCH."
"I quit." Gillian groans before taking her cards and throwing them into Kadasia's face. At this point Alicia looks akin to a middle aged smoker suffering from a stroke. I'm in a similar state, only my pigment did well hiding the blotchy redness in my face. I'm surprised that Ms. Roller wasn't paying us and our comically profane language any attention, but it's most likely because we are the squad of geeky teacher's pets that get As on every assignment, receive honor roll every marking period and show up to school in clothes that don't smell like weed.
Trying to get my act together, I take out my phone and text my friend on Skype. He missed the bus that day so he had the day off from school. Our texts back and forth during the time were a little dry and I was worried about the route we were taking with our relationship due to my overzealous anxiety towards my friendships. So I asked, "can I call you?" He responds with, "sure."
"Oh my God, are you on the phone?" Kadasia is practically in tears and I cover my mouth as a failing attempt to stifle my laughter.
"W-Wait," Gillian wheezes, a grin on her face, "give me the phone." I hand her the phone without question and my table erupts in loud, unsullied laughter as Gillian croaks out in between giggles, "she can't call right now, young man! Stop harassing my daughter! Use condoms, too!" I later learn that he hangs up out of sheer confusion and slight irritation, but I don't mind. Gillian and I collapsed on the table, teary eyed. My stomach convulses with cramps from laughing so hard.
Some cards topple off of the table on my end and Alicia is too handicapped to pick them up, so I do her the serve despite being drunk with snickers. Standing up shakily from my seat, I take one step then another. I forgot that my jacket, which I carry around everywhere because I don't have a locker, was on the floor. I end up stepping on the sleeve then tumble to the ground when it slides out from under me.
More laughter. Even I can't stop even though my knee hurts from falling. Gillian still has my phone in her hand; she can't resist taking pictures of everyone. Alicia's tomato face. Kadasia sobs from laughter. My greeting with the hard, cement floor.
The pictures are mostly blurry considering how Gillian wasn't focused enough to take better ones, but it doesn't matter. All it takes now is flashing them one photo of the group selfie I took of them for all of us to explode in laughter due to the creepy smile Kadasia sported. Needless to say, we still have a horrible understanding of the subjunctive.
Sometime in the 1990s Marc and I were at Denny's after 11:00 p.m. The malls closed at 9:00 p.m. so the under-21 crowd was looking for a place to hang out. I forget what we were talking about, but we were interrupted. A rude girl was talking about how much she liked sex. Not just that she liked sex. But as I recall, she liked it a lot. She didn't go through the day without thinking of sex. It was something that bugged her. Listening to her and looking at her, we vowed never to have sex again. It would remind us of the girl in Dennys.
She went on. And on. It was a loud restaurant and she had to be louder than the five tables around us. We couldn't hear any of her companions but she was having a conversation, because she kept interrupting herself to laugh and yell, "I know!" which was even more annoying that her annoying sex tricks.
Think of somebody imitating Gilbert Gottfried reading Cosmopolitan magazine cover to cover out loud in an stuck elevator, and you have a unit of sexual disgust. Call it a slut. This girl was broadcasting at 100 megasluts.
Finally after about ten minutes, I know it was ten minutes because it was half the time it took the waiter to come back with our water, I had had enough.
"Excuse me," I said in my best Sean Connery burr. "I couldn't help overhear you like sex."
She gawked. Our eyes locked across the room. Her friends turned to stare at me.
"Would you like," I continued, "to shut the fuck up?"
Twenty years later I can still make Marc spew water out his nose reminding him of this.
I never wanted to go to a school dance. That was one of my biggest goals of high school. However, life is funny and I got chosen by my club to be nominated for homecoming court. And with that BIG responsibility, I had to buy a ticket to the homecoming dance, yippie! While I'm there, everything was nice and smooth, nothing major or significant happened. That is until the announcement came for who would be on the homecoming court. Guess what happened. I got chosen! It was pretty exciting and I was actually pretty proud of myself. Now this is where things get FUNNY. After I got all the info about the next week's activities, I walk back into the dance floor only to be met with two friends who picked me up on their shoulders and carried me across the whole room! This was awkward and amazing at the same time! But then security told them to let me down. But this is the even FUNNIER part of the story. I have a friend, Vanessa, who is the varsity head cheer leader, and she told me before I got on the court that she wanted to dance with me. I didn't actually think that it would happen, but sure enough, it did. So I thought that I was gonna just do my two step like my brother taught me and that that would be good enough. NOPE. She did this incredible body movement stuff that memorized the inner workings of my brain. I had no idea what to do so I just grabbed her hips and two stepped. The most embarrassing thing is the fact that I kept stepping on her toes and for some reason I couldn't stop saying, "uh ... Uh.... UH..." I was way too into the feels.
Make Me Laugh
"Do y'all want anything to eat?" Timmy's mom asked as she opened the French door to the den.
There I sat, one sock from naked, on a hand-painted foot stool, holding two two's, two three's, and an Ace; and praying she wouldn't venture around to my side of the table.
"No Mama, leave us alone! Wait, can you pour me some Pepsi?" he asked.
"Yeah. David, Kevin, y'all want Pepsi, Kool-Aid, milk, or...?"
"Pepsi's fine," I interrupted, attempting to keep her as close to the door as possible. David ordered Pepsi, and we resumed our game.
As the door closed, I asked Timmy, "Are you crazy? Now, she's definitely going to see me."
"Don't blame me 'cause you suck at poker," he replied.
In what seemed like fewer than ninety seconds, she was back with three red solo cups of Pepsi, and a brand new can of Planters peanuts. "Can't play cards without peanuts," she informed us. "Kevin, do you need one of Timmy's T-Shirts to sleep in?"
"No Ma'am, I have one. I'm just trying to cool off," I reassured her.
"OK. Y'all don't stay up too late," she warned, and headed off to bed.
Of course we were staying up late. It was December 9, 1983, and the network television premiere of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video would be shown on NBC's Friday Night Videos, to the majority of Americans who were not fortunate enough to have seen its debut a week earlier on MTV.
"It's only 11:00. What are we going to do for an hour and a half?" I asked my mostly-dressed, twelve-year-old compadres.
"Let's play Make Me Laugh," Timmy suggested. I was delighted. Timmy suggesting Make Me Laugh was like John McEnroe saying to Jimmy Connors, "I don't know, wanna play tennis?" We were both seasoned professionals.
"We should play Strip Make Me Laugh," I joked, "I guarantee y'all there is absolutely no way I'm losing at that game!"
As the game got underway, Timmy and I sat straight-faced on the couch as David wrapped a thin, red blanket tightly over his face, and began howling at some pretend moon, somewhere. I really hadn't noticed how beak-like David's nose was until then, and its prominence became undeniable. Then, I yawned.
"Time's up," Timmy said, "my turn."
David took Timmy's place on the couch, and neither of us had any idea that we were about to witness history in the making.
As the intro to Late Nite with David Letterman played on the TV in the corner, Timmy opened with a series of close-up, rhyming, nonsense words, strung together and delivered with maestro-like timing, "Lay, Tay, May, Say, Fay, Jay, Vay, Tay, Day, Pay, Jay, PAY-DAY, KAY!"
David snickered, but managed to not break a smile. I remained stone-faced, and quite frankly, unimpressed. Although I had never heard that bit from such proximity before, it had certainly lost its edge since originating in my backyard months earlier.
"You're going to have to do better than that," I thought to myself.
As if reading my mind, Timmy grabbed the black, knit tie he had worn to the middle school band, holiday performance hours earlier, and tied it around his head. He then yanked off his sweat pants, and launched into his best Olivia Newton-John impression. "Let's get phys-i-cal, phys-i-cal. I wanna get phys-i-cal, Let's get into physical." and as he gave David what we would years later refer to as a "lap dance", he continued, "Let me hear your body talk, your body talk. Let me hear your body ta-halk."
David burst into laughter as he forcefully, launched Timmy backwards, onto the floor beyond. Unfazed and quite aware that he had approximately one minute and fifteen seconds to make me laugh, he sprang back to his feet, and was in my face once again. This time he was yelling at me like a drill sergeant with just the right amount of spit turning into drool between commands, "Laugh Loser! When I say laugh, I mean laugh! You better wipe that smug look off your face and laugh!"
Admittedly, by then, the sight of an inch and a half stream of drool that intentionally clung to his chin, juxtaposed with the thought of a lispy drill sergeant wearing tightey-whities, black socks, and a headband was almost too much to bear.
And then it happened. With twenty-seven seconds left on the calculator watch timer, Timmy casually walked over to the poker table. Then, while standing directly in front of me, he pulled the yellow, plastic top off the Planters peanut can. He then ripped off the foil seal, opened up the front of his underwear, and emptied the entire can of peanuts into his fruit-of-the-looms. Then, placing both hands behind his head, and with Chippendale precision, he began a brutal barrage of pelvic thrusts. I glanced down at the timer. Each thrust seemed miraculously synchronized with the countdown of the remaining seconds, and I knew, as peanuts bounced across the hardwood floor in all directions, that the end was near. As one stray peanut somehow hit me in the forehead, I burst into some well-deserved laughter. I had just witnessed the most hilarious thing I would ever see.
Talking to Funny Trees
You can talk to the animals, chat with your plants,
Discuss ecology with a firefly, or evolution with ants,
But never had I more trouble, then when I've talked to trees,
It seems that they are as a whole a funny group, if you please!
I asked a Maple tree a question once, about his unusual roots,
But he gave me this sappy smile, and said something rude about my boots!
Next I approached a stately oak, these trees are really quite stuffy,
I asked him how his acorns grow, but he only got angry and huffy!
The next tree I encountered was a kindly white birch tree,
I asked why his bark was peeling, but he only stared back at me,
I walked some distance through the forest and met an old tree of beech,
I knew that if I asked a poser of a question, that he had much to teach,
Next I met an old elm tree, who seemed fidgety and nervous,
I asked him what his phobia was, as it seemed that was his purpose,
He told me rather nervously, that he might change to a frog,
But his greatest fear was that if he talked too much, that he might just dialog.
I laughed so hard at his sudden pun, because I never knew a humorous tree,
That made a joke that was half as funny as the one that he told me.
So, I asked him if he could make up a few to tell perhaps next spring,
He said he would see what he could do; he knew it was a great thing!
I was quite concerned that the task I posed might be too much for a tree,
They are after all not known to be thinkers, at least as trees might be,
So when I came back the following spring, after winter’s snow had been dumped,
I found that the question I had posed, left my friend the tree literally...