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The Time I Had a Rogue Hair

April 28, 2013 Leave a comment

furry_man

So yeah, everybody gets these. If you haven’t found one on your own body, you simply haven’t been looking hard enough, and it’s probably at least six inches long by now. SEARCH THYSELF.

I remember discovering mine for the first time, growing out of the right side of my abdomen like it fucking belonged there. It looked like it came off Gandalf’s head (the White, not the Grey), several inches long and as glossy as a unicorn’s mane. I plucked it with horror, only to have it grow back again and again, the thin strand as white as purely driven snow. Now I monitor the spot with grim vengeance, razing the area as soon as it pokes it’s tiny silky head out of my stomach.

I remember a girl in my class in college who had a massive two-inch black hair emerging from her chin, like Satan’s own pube. I couldn’t understand how she had never noticed it before, but it became more clear as I watched her glance in the mirror in the bathroom. She always angled her head in such a way that she never saw the offending hair curling in the breeze. My God, had nobody ever told her? I didn’t know how to approach that situation since we were merely acquaintances, and she soon ceased coming to class altogether. Had she been strangled by her rogue hair in the night? Perhaps she looked on it fondly, stroking it gently before drifting off to sleep each night. I will never know.

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The Time My Boss Showed Me Her Boobs

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

fireant

So, my former boss had boobs.

This, in of itself, is not remarkable. However, when she sustained an injury to said breast that she insisted was my fault, I found myself face to face with a lot of boob meat.

It all started when I decided I simply had to have a pet in the office. Our soulless span of cold grey cubicles seemed like a parody of a stifling office, and I was beginning to crack. I had already decorated my cube with a lava lamp, a Rubik’s cube, some putty, and other assorted toys, but it still felt like a desk of despair. Perhaps it was the lack of visible windows, or my beautiful view into a dangerously overcrowded supply closet that maimed many a fellow employee.

Whatever the reasons, I somehow felt that introducing LIFE would be a good start.

The natural cubicle pet is, of course, a plant. But given my previous experiences with plants of all shapes and sizes, I knew that I would somehow manage to care it to death within a few weeks. Either that or it would thrive, but then become infested with tiny mites that would then spread across the thinly carpeted floor. Plus the aforementioned lack of sunlight would doom all but the heartiest vegetation.

No, I wanted something that would move.

And so came the purchase of an ant farm. To save myself time and frustration, I opted for the creepy blue gel version of the farm, in which the unfortunate ants would both dig, eat, and shit out only a space-age gel the color of Windex until they ultimately died from despair. Because owning an ant farm as an adult is truly one of the more depressing experiences out there. As the Onion so eloquently observed, an ant farm is a “fun, interactive way to teach children ages 5 and up about unceasing, backbreaking toil and the cold, inescapable reality of death.”

The ants are all female, and fucking PISSED OFF when you receive them in the mail. I placed mine in the workplace fridge to calm them down, which upset many coworkers who felt I was doing some sort of cruel experiment. In a way, I suppose I was. After depositing the now semi-comatose ants into the enclosure, they quickly perked up and began to dig. And die. And dig. And then muse on the ephemerality of life. And then die some more.

The bodies piled up quickly, and the living ants seemed determined to dismember the dead rather than dig more pointless tunnels. A fat ant with glasses was at some point hunted down by a roving pack of insects covered in war paint. The conch lay forgotten at the dead end of a tunnel into which no one dared enter, for a spectral beast lurked within.

Anyway, each day the environment within the farm became more and more bleak. I occasionally had to pry open a corner of the lid to allow the ants some precious oxygen. But upon lifting the plastic, every ant who still possessed the will to live immediately tried to swarm out. They were shockingly fast, and had large mandibles that would leave fiery welts on your fingers.

And so the day finally came when my coworkers begged me to set the ants free. Most were now lying on the surface in a stupor, unwilling to eat, drink, or move. They were waiting for their inevitable extinction.

My boss, a kindhearted soul, took it upon herself to empty the remaining ants into a nearby park. Tired of looking at a constant reminder of my own mortality, I gave her permission to do what had to be done.

She came back with stings on her boobs as the imprisoned ants had ravaged her chest in their haste to escape. She threw the empty ant farm, which resembled some sort of horrible chemical bomb, into a park trash can. I imagined it being surrounded by the NYC bomb squad and detonated within hours. She showed me her battle wounds with a mixture of anger and pride, as if to show me that she had been strong enough to do what I could not.

But she still blamed me for the whole fiasco, and ant farms are now not permitted in the office. However, her boob scars were showed to all for weeks afterwards.

The Time My Brother Talked About Guns

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

So.

Another mass shooting. Targeting children.

I’m not really sure what to say. It’s fucking awful, and what do you write in the face of such tragedy? So I thought I would share my brother’s thoughtful essay he posted to Facebook on Saturday. He said it better than I ever could.

***

And what is this fantasy? What is this fantasy that makes us think, as a nation, we need to have guns?

I know the fantasy. I know it because I grew up with guns. I know it because I had my own gun when I was sixteen years old. My Dad had a .357 revolver and he got me a little .22 caliber pistol. He kept them on the top shelf in his closet, each in a padded case, with the cylinder and clip placed neatly, safely beside them. We’d go shooting at the gun range. We’d try for accuracy and speed. We spent some of our best hours together in the stifling little room breathing gunsmoke. After, we’d come home and clean the guns and talk and browse gun magazines and chat.

Eventually, though, the conversation would turn to delicious ‘what ifs?’

“What if someone is trying to break in?”
“What if someone has already broken in?”
“What if someone has broken in and they’ve found the guns?”
“What if they have knife?”
“What if they have their own gun?”

Invariably, the scenarios became more and more baroque, with multiple attackers and heroic risks and clever ruses that got us to the closet and put the familiar weight of our own guns in our steady hands. Then all hell would break loose in our minds, the wallpaper shredded, the furniture blown to bits, fear and doubt nowhere to be found. The stories always concluded with my Dad and me standing victorious over a field of faceless victims, each lying dead, each undoubtedly deserving of their fate.

Our fantasies, though, never entertained the reality – that more often than not, a wielded gun will end up the hands of the attacker or, as we’ve witnessed now another heartbreaking time, in the hands of those we never intended to hold them.

But the fantasy is always there:

Your family is in danger. It’s you against them. They drag your kids out of bed. They tie them up. They drag your wife to the garage and close the door. They’re about to unleash Hell. Only they didn’t count on you and your 9 millimeter, which somehow ends up in your hand and which you unload in a righteous hailstorm of searing lead that also somehow avoids each of your family members.

You’re in your car in a bad neighborhood. Suddenly your door is yanked open. Your kids are in the back in their car seats. Hands on your jacket, you’re being dragged out. But not before your fingers close around the handle of the Glock you keep by your left thigh. A second later, it’s painfully clear that they fucked with the wrong guy.

Or the war is coming. Everyone knows that. And every one of us will have a shot at our John Wayne moment. We just need a gun. Or a couple. We’ll keep it in the safe, under lock and key or combination. Ignore the wife’s concerns that somehow the kids will figure it out. They know who’s boss around here. You’ve told them to never touch that safe. That cabinet. That padded case. And they never would because you’ve got your house in order.

It’s a right. America was carved by strength of will out of nothing. We are the rugged individuals, the mavericks, the lone wolves. We need that pistol at our side because when the shit goes down, it’ll be the American left standing, a wisp of smoke trailing from his red hot barrel.

But, from a raised and confirmed gun enthusiast, hear this:

It. Is. Fantasy.

Your house will, most likely, not be invaded. Your car will, most likely, never be jacked. The zombies or Russians or Chinese or Martians are, most likely, never coming. What is much more likely is that your guns will end up in the hands or your kids, or their friends (who come over when you’re at work and who aren’t as well-raised as your kids). And if not your guns, then it’ll be your neighbor’s guns your neighbor’s kids – your neighbor, who was on the fence about owning a gun, but he knows you do so he figured, ‘why the hell not?’ He needs a new hobby and Walmart is having a sale. He’s got his own fantasies, after all.

Gun ownership, I know, is essentially about preparing for the worst. But while you set the scene and lay the props for some fantasy that never materializes, the worst does indeed come.

It comes in the shape of Sandy Hook.

Gun Control.

Now.

-Damian Baldet

The Time I Took Off My Foot Bandages

July 20, 2012 3 comments

So, this post is going to get a little gross. Nothing too crazy, but if you are of a sensitive disposition, you might just want to go read about dog molestation instead.

Anyway, I finally got my surgical boot and bandages from my bunion surgery removed on Tuesday. Check out the difference between before and after!

Before:

After:

As you can see, I’ve got a nasty gash on the top of my foot, but it’s not too bad, all things considered. However, what WAS bad was trying to wash my foot for the first time in three weeks.

The human body produces a startling amount of dead skin that is normally washed away by sweat, a shower, a bath, friction, etc. My foot had received no such attention, and as such was coated in a quarter-inch thick layer of scum. I didn’t take a picture of my foot before the washing, because it was just too gross.

Calluses which were merely a nuisance before the surgery had morphed into cracked deserts with crevasses large enough to act as tunnels in an ant farm. The surface of my skin was a dull yellow color, both from old Betadine and grime. To my alarm, great chunks of foot began falling off as I scrubbed in the shower. A delicate scratch with a single fingernail released a tectonic plate of dead skin the size of my entire big toe. Each stroke of my loofah made it look like I was leaving genetic breadcrumbs Hansel-and-Gretel style on the bottom of the tub. I hastily collected all the skin in some toilet paper and washed the tub, since I live with roommates and am not a complete heathen.

After about 10 minutes in the shower, the scar cracked open and began to ooze yellowish plasma, followed shortly by heavily congealed blood. I had been avoiding the wound itself as best I could, and to see it spew forth blood like a volcano made me freak out completely. But I kept right on scrubbing the rest of my foot in the midst of my panic, because I’d be damned if I was going to crawl into brand new white sheets while shedding skin faster than a snake.

After a good 25 minutes or so of scrubbing, the deed was finally done. I was bloody and exhausted, but comparatively clean. Luckily, my wound scabbed nicely overnight, and it hasn’t given me a whole lot of trouble since.

But the strange thing is that it still doesn’t feel like my foot. I look at it, and it’s like someone else’s foot has been grafted onto my ankle, then left to fester. When you’re used to seeing an appendage a certain way, and then it suddenly changes, your mind goes all wonky. The fact that some of my toes are still numb from swelling doesn’t help matters. Over the past few days, I’ve tried to get reacquainted with my foot, but it still feels like I’ve got a waxen corpse attached to me. Psychologically, this is pretty upsetting, but I’m hopeful I’ll come around soon. After all, it’s still my body, and I’ll go nuts if I can’t come to terms with that.

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The Time I Ate English Candy

July 18, 2012 5 comments

Here’s the thing – I pretty much like candy in ALL its forms. There are very few that I won’t eat (liquorice comes to mind, and Good and Plenty), but I’m one of those weird kids that would actually eat EVERYTHING in her pillowcase after Halloween. Even those nasty peanut butter taffy things that came in the black and orange paper wrappers? Yeah, I ate those, too. Or circus peanuts, which are probably one of the worst candies every created.

So when I came across a sweet shop in London in April, I ended up trying a ton of things. I felt like I was in Harry Potter with all the sugar mice laying around, though I have to say the mice looked better than they tasted. I ended up buying a “Jolly Mixture” bag from Hope and Greenwood Splendid Confectionary in Covent Garden, but only now finally ate all the goodies within. So join me as a bunch of Americans and one English ex-pat review traditional British candies. I had them all pick pseudonyms for themselves, so no, I don’t actually work with Anderson Cooper.

Sherbet Fountain (Barratt)

Me: The powder looks a lot like cocaine, or powdered sugar if you’re being PC. I normally hate liquorice, but I actually don’t mind it much here. When you lick the powder off of it, you get just a hint of the anise flavor, which helps to offset the lemony sweetness of the candy. But I certainly won’t eat the liquorice at the end.

Kate Middleton (from SE London, been living in the US since 1992, but plans on moving back to London soon): These were fun when you were little since the powder would foam up in your mouth, and you could pretend you were rabid. It scared parents when you started drooling foam. But the liquorice was crap. British children like liquorice a lot more than American kids, for some reason. Maybe parents are trying to teach their children bitterness or something. Also, this powder doesn’t seem as fizzy as I remember – did they change the recipe?

The Silver Fox: Citrusy and limey. I like Fun Dip better.

Fizz Wiz

All: Just like Pop Rocks. Nothing to see here.

Parma Violets (Swizzels Matlow)

Me: I actually kind of like these? They sort of taste like perfume in candy form. But where did the name “Parma” come from?

Kate Middleton: Ugh, these taste like soap.

Hermione: Nice little soaps! They’re kind of like what I imagine a bath bomb would taste like. I’d maybe eat these again, but I’m not sure.

The Silver Fox: Very bland and chalky. Bleagh.

Refreshers (Swizzels Matlow)

Me: Tasty, but as tough on your teeth as Laffy Taffy. At least there aren’t any jokes on the wrapper.

Kate Middleton: I can’t eat these, they’ll pull out all my fillings.

Hermione: These taste like Lemon Verbena. But are also sort of grassy? I like them!

The Silver Fox: I’m not a taffy fan, the texture is all wrong, and they’re terrible for fillings.

Fizzers (Swizzels Matlow)

Hermione: These are like Smarties (the American kind), but more gross. These taste like chewable grape Tylenol or those chewable vitamins. Ew. And they don’t even fizz! False advertising!

Love Hearts (Swizzels Matlow)

Me: These are better than American conversation hearts, but not by much. It’s like a SweeTart gone wrong. A really medicinal aftertaste.

Hermione: I’m really annoyed that the hearts are printed at right angles to each other. The one on the front of each candy is upright, and the one on the back is on its side! They taste like chalk at first, then get a little better like a SweeTart, then back to chalk. Not tempting or appealing.

The Silver Fox: Terrible! Terrible! (He then spat it out into a trashcan.)

So these last three, I ate before I even left London.

Rainbow Drops

Me: This has got to be the worst idea for candy ever. It’s like a really crappy, stale cereal that has been barely frosted.

Flying Saucers

Me: I liked these quite a bit! The rice paper stuff dissolves, then you get all this fizzy sherbet. I ate them all by myself since I’m a greedy bastard.

Candy Whistle

Me: This was pretty terrible, and the whistle didn’t even work. The “candy” here is more bland SweeTart-esque sugar that tastes more like chalk than anything.

The Time My Sister Spilled Everything

July 6, 2012 Leave a comment

messy_eater

While growing up, my sister had a unique ability to magnetically attract liquids and foods to her clothing.

Seriously, no matter what the situation or how careful she was being, by the end of a meal, she would be so splattered with sauces that it looked like she had just come from a paintball arena.

No one is really sure why this happened. Perhaps it was just adolescent klutziness, or maybe because she is left-handed but was forced to use right-handed implements. Regardless of the reason, it caused a lot of distress for my teenage sister. She couldn’t be trusted in a restaurant or at home, and she frequently had to change clothes after each meal. We couldn’t have a family dinner without at least one glass tipping over and covering the entire table with milk or soda. Each time this happened, my sister would frantically apologize while my dad let out a stream of swears and ran for the nearest towel. More often than not, after this spill was mopped up, she would knock over the refilled glass and the scene would repeat itself, only with even more colorful curses from my dad.

My sister was banished to the opposite side of the table from the rest of us, like we were at the Last Supper and she was the only apostle on the near side, covered with food. We weren’t trying to be cruel, but her left elbow was completely unpredictable during a feeding frenzy, often jabbing into someone’s side or flailing into someone ELSE’S cup, strewing its contents onto their plate. Her placement at the table was more like a quarantine for our own protection.

She also had a tendency to stuff WAY too much food into her mouth at once. It was like she had been starved and was fighting off territorial dogs for her dinner. In an infamous restaurant incident, she once stuffed an entire loaf of bread into her maw at once, nearly choking to death. The rest of the table looked in awe at the empty bread basket and my sister’s rapidly purpling face, only putting two and two together when the international choking symbol was performed. Until then, her fellow dinner-mates simply didn’t think that what they were seeing was possible. She also once almost died from eating mozzarella sticks like they were jello shots, not realizing that the hot cheese was like molten lava in her throat. She would also eat a pile of rice so quickly that she’d manage to inhale the grains into her nose via the back of her throat. Suddenly, slimy grains would creepy out of her nostrils like little maggots, forcing her to run from the table and go blow them all into a tissue. The experience was, reportedly, quite painful.

Now that my sister is older, her predilection for decorating herself with foodstuffs seems to have gotten much better. But I still wouldn’t sit to the left of her at a table if you paid me.

The Time I Performed Home Surgery

May 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Skin Tags

So, this was back in 2009 when I was unemployed and dubiously insured.

I noticed this sort of weird mole-like thing on my inner right thigh, and freaked the hell out. The thing was grotesquely shaped and seemed to grow larger weekly, eventually protruding a good quarter of an inch from my leg.

I figured I had some sort of skin cancer, and sent a blurry camera phone photo to my dad, who is a doctor. He told me to quit worrying, and that it was just a skin tag.

I had never heard of a skin tag before, but apparently it’s just a small benign growth that often appears in places where layers of skin rub against each other. Common locations include the your neck, armpits, eyelids, under the breasts, or the spot where your thighs touch (as in my case).

Though they aren’t dangerous, I thought it was pretty unsightly, and decided to get rid of it. However, my insurance was useful only in catastrophic situations, and I was not interested in paying hundreds of dollars for a doctor to snip it off. My dad recommended that I tie thread or thin, waxed dental floss around the base of the growth, and knot it tightly. By cutting off the blood supply, the tumor should eventually dry up and fall off on its own.

However, after two days with floss dangling between my legs, the skin tag was purple, but still very firmly attached. Evidently I had not cut off the blood supply completely, or at least not to the entire mass.

It was time for plan B.

Plan B involved rubbing the area with alcohol, sterilizing a pair of nail or toenail clippers, and just chopping it off. After reading a few articles describing the procedure, I felt like I was ready.

But when the time came, I found myself paralyzed with fear. I held the clippers menacingly in my left hand while the other clutched at my thigh, but I couldn’t seem to get the two to meet. Each time my left hand approached, my thigh scooted off to the right of its own accord, causing me to spin in sad, naked circles.

I took a deep breathe, sterilized everything AGAIN just in case, then sat myself down on the toilet lid so that I’d stop revolving like a top. Even once the clippers were poised around the tag, I still had to give myself a pep talk for a good five minutes before I finally made the snip.

And it really wasn’t bad at all. It stung terribly for a second, bled slightly, and it was all over. After the application of a Band-Aid, it was if nothing had happened at all. Now, all I have is a small scar to mark the spot, and the tag has never recurred.

So if you’ve got a troublesome skin tag, just grit your teeth and chop that damn thing off. You’ll be glad you did, and hopefully you won’t be as wussy as I was about it all.

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