You’re Everywhere That I’m Not

Here’s the story: Dude One, pictured left, molests and kills a ten-year-old girl, is convicted and sent to prison. Dude Two (not pictured) corners Dude One in a locked prison cell and offers Dude One a choice: death or tattoo. Seems simple to me, other than the obvious aesthetics. I mean, there are certain things I want in my tattoo artist: I want to see a history of good work, I want personal recommendations and a certain minimum of murderous history between us. However, Dude One seems to have chosen correctly, even if he is plagued with a bit of buyer’s remorse.

Jared Harris, 22, is a cousin of Katlyn “Katie” Collman, family friend and spokesman Terry Gray told The Republic newspaper. He said he did not believe they knew each other well.

Harris, 22, who is serving time on a burglary conviction at Wabash Valley state prison in Carlisle, has been charged with battery and accused of tattooing “KATIE’S REVENGE” across Anthony Ray Stockelman’s forehead.

Harris told prison officials the attack was in revenge, according to an affidavit.

I KNOW! My ribs hurt! Dude Two spelled and punctuated correctly and everything.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not saying revenge is the way to go, because I don’t believe that for a second, but we’re talking about men in prison here, where we expect – well – very, very bad behavior by men with documented temper problems. If Dude Two had shanked Dude One, that killing would have been so ordinary we would never have heard about it. Instead, we have threats, new ink, an excellent Snow Crash reference, and here at PIC, we feel curiously relevant.

I’m sure there’s a moral to this story other than “Hey…kids, don’t…um, flunk penmanship.”

The Footsteps Of a Rag Doll Dance

We finished the very end. Let’s start at the very beginning.

The Constitution of the United States of America
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Speaking of domestic tranquility, Miss Sasha offers us her prescription:

Apple Cider Chicken
Yield: one peaceful fall moment.

Two medium sweet potatoes cut into two-inch pieces.
Two medium baking potatoes cut into two inch pieces.
One acorn squash cut into one inch pieces.

Place in a roasting pan about two inches deep. Roasted vegetables always bring back comforting memories of Thanksgiving, warmth and strength around me, plus the smell of sweet potatoes is awesome on a crisp day.

One chicken, mine is small because my family is small but someday it will be big and I will say one large chicken. So for now, one small chicken. Bathed, as we should all be; buttered, salt and peppered (which I don’t suggest trying on yourself). Careful with the salt because after this moment of peace you don’t want to be concerned about your new need for new clothes. Place a rack in pan on top of the veggies, put your chicken on the rack. At this point you may notice you have put WAY too much butter on your chicken when it slips off the pan and on to the floor. (If this happens don’t feel guilty about your love of butter, just repeat the previous step especially the bathing part.) Sprinkle with your favorite spices, this time I figured Chinese Five Spice (which is anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger and other stuff. It is like mulled cider and licorice), oregano, garlic, bay leaves (2 one for each breast like pasties, stop laughing). I cut one large white onion in half and stuck about 4 cloves into each side and placed them in the cavity of the bird. Then I pour a cup of apple cider and fill a syringe type of baster and randomly assault this perfectly innocent chicken. I heated my oven to 450 to start with because I have NO patience when I am hungry. I place my now dizzy apple cidered chicken on the middle rack of my oven. I baked it at this temperature for 35 minutes, but keep an eye on it, when it starts to brown turn it to 375 until you smell yummy smells coming from that side of your house. Check with a thermometer until the thickest part of your chicken is above 165 degrees.

*Please do not take the chicken out and slice off cooked pieces and put the chicken carcass back into the oven to finish cooking the rest. This will only be fun for bulimics and those who feel they are not getting enough out of their health insurance providers! Once our chicken is finished take him or her out and place somewhere to rest before cutting. This is prime time for those who like to steal pieces (dogs, small children, husbands) prepare camera for footage of theft to later support your defense at your trial for manslaughter. Slice chicken, place veggies on plate and enjoy!

Far be it from me to criticize when someone else is doing the cooking but – darling! Cook the big chicken and enjoy the delicious leftovers!

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Feel the Devil Walking Next To Me

Well, sometimes you read a story, whistle to yourself and say, “Paint me red and call me Mortimer. That fella’s lost the plot.” School Safety Drill Upsets Some Parents is such a story and David Britten is that dim fella.

WYOMING, Mich. (AP) – A school safety drill that included police officers in riot gear with weapons has caused concern among some parents who say it was too realistic and frightened some students. Police in the western Michigan community of Wyoming entered two classrooms at Lee Middle and High School on Thursday and announced there was a threat to the school, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Students, who were unaware police were conducting a drill, were taken from the classroom into the halls, patted down by officers and asked what they had in their pockets, the newspaper said.

“Some of these kids were so scared, they just about wet their pants,” said Marge Bradshaw, a parent with four children in Godfrey-Lee Schools. “I think it’s pure wrong that the students and parents were not informed of this.” Officers wore protective gear, including vests and helmets, and carried rifles that were unloaded and marked with colored tape to indicate they were not live weapons, the newspaper said. Diana Silva, a parent of an eighth-grade student, said the drill went too far.

“My child was with his face to the wall in the hallway of the high school,” Silva said. “I certainly don’t want anything like this happening to my child.”

I’ve written a handful of times about stupid grownups acting more childishly than children, but I can only find one at the moment. Plus, during the search I read July and August 2005, when my miserable life was especially hilarious. But let’s meet our new Special Friend.

Principal David Britten said students weren’t told ahead of time to make the drill as realistic as possible. Teachers were informed moments before it took place, he said.

“I think this is the best way to do it,” Britten said. “We’re not looking to scare anyone, but we want a sense of urgency.”

David, David, David! You have a problem with verbs. For instance, when you say, “I think this is the best way to do it,” the people on the outside of your head understand you’re thinking this was a riot – the funny kind – and you’re going to do it again. That’s not all, David, because you use more verbs. “We’re not looking to scare anyone, but we want a sense of urgency” indicates to the people – again, the ones outside your head – that you have a common problem: you can’t tell the difference between your intentions and your actions. On TV, people say to one another all the time “I didn’t mean to hurt you” or “I didn’t mean to drive your car off the train bridge” or “I didn’t mean to imply by marrying you that I like you any less” when what they mean is, “Shut up. I do what I want.” And that’s exactly what those of us who aren’t tinhorn despots like you hear now: Shut up. I do what I want.

But Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody said his officers were not aware students and parents were not told. He said his department will mandate that parents be notified ahead of time in the future.

“The purpose was to show how we will evacuate the classroom, not to assault the classroom,” Carmody said.

I’d consider evacuating my children, were they in David Britten’s care, because armed men terrorizing my children are armed men terrorizing my children, no matter what their intentions. There’s no excuse for it, and there’s no excuse for refusing to see that this damages children. The kids have learned that they cannot trust the stupid adults to protect them, especially not from the other stupid, armed adults. So what was the point? It was for David Britten to play toy soldiers with real guns, to establish dominance over the chimera in his head.

Were I a member of the school board on the outside of this guy’s head, I’d make sure David Britten heard my call for his immediate dismissal.

We May See Murder Yet!

John Adams: This is a revolution, dammit! We’re going to have to offend SOMEbody!

Yesterday, a troll at Shakespeare’s Sister called me insecure and said I had terrible taste in music. I know! My face still hurts from laughing, especially since we were talking about the Dixie Chicks’ recent album, which is solid musically and lyrically. You can take my word for it or take my opinion for what it is: the thoughts and experiences of a person who is not you, and whose feeling are not yours, whether or not our hearts skip beats when we think back to that hot-and-heavy weekend we didn’t answer the phone and couldn’t tell whose body parts were whose after a while and we took turns shouting, “Ride ’em, cowgirl!” and, “The workers control the means of production!” and man, I hope Dad’s not reading this.

Hi, Dad. How’s…um…stuff?

I grew up with musicians, though I am not one myself. This means that when my stepfather Tom played John Adams in 1776 in some giant Bicentennial Central Jersey Plays in the Park jazz, Daria, Todd, Anya, Corinne and I learned the dialog, sang every word, knew every bit of blocking, read the play’s book-form notes by the authors. In 1976, I’m not sure I uttered a single unscripted word. A lot of what I’m reading online at CNN sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before?

John Adams: I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress! For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesty of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?

I have a crappy memory, but this is ridiculous.

[John Adams volunteers to visit New Brunswick after a report is given of Washington’s soldiers being afflicted with venereal disease and alcoholism]
John Adams: Wake up, Franklin, you’re going to New Brunswick!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: [Half asleep] Like hell I am. What for?
Hopkins: The whoring and the drinking!
[Franklin gets up and marches off right behind Adams]

It was already a college town when they arrived, but it took another 194 years to get here –

Amendment XXVI
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

– and who knows what lit this fire

Amendment XXVII
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Last night, I had dinner with Lala. I used to appear with her art band, and by appear, I mean I was completely visible. We managed to never get arrested, even when the cops were already in the audience. We’re free speech fans but we also graduated high school before Ronald Reagan started bringing on the full-blown Eeeeeeeevil. The other day, she was in a big-name gallery in New York and went to its store for an artist’s book. At the register, she took out cash.

Clueless: We don’t take cash.
Lala: What?
Clueless: We don’t take cash, only credit cards.
Lala: That’s illegal.
Clueless: It’s what?
Lala: It’s illegal for you to refuse U.S. legal tender. I have a credit card but you have to accept cash.

At the dinner table, I laugh so hard the restaurant goes silent. When I can think again, I’m grateful I wasn’t chewing or sipping anything and for the rest of the meal, each time she inhales to speak I swallow fast and put down my fork.

Lala: How can you not know that? I grew up knowing that. I learned it in civics class.
Tata: Credit cards haven’t been around for all that long. Most people, if you ask them, don’t know where credit cards came from. That’s why Congress is still re-writing the laws about bankruptcy to favor credit card companies. I mean, think about it. When I was in my twenties, everyone didn’t have credit cards. People who owned houses had credit cards. I sure didn’t.
Lala: …That’s right!
Tata: School districts that decided to include personal finance into required classes would be doing America a huge favor.

Actually, school districts that decided to teach fucking American history would be doing America a huge favor in a time when the Founding Fathers, in all their courageous, violent, surly glory are reduced to faces on diner placemats. If I had a handful of teenagers who could hold a tune, I’d be producing 1776 anywhere I wouldn’t be arrested trespassing. I might start with men’s prisons and juvenile facilities, where boys caught holding are incarcerated with men who killed children. But why fuss?

Well, this week, we’ve reached a new low. A documentary about free speech in America won’t be advertised on NBC. Why? Possibly because NBC is owned by General Electric, your basic weapons contractor to the stars.

NEW YORK — The Dixie Chicks are again at the center of a controversy over the limits of opinionated talk. A film company said Friday that NBC wouldn’t accept an advertisement for Shut Up & Sing, a movie about the fuss created by Dixie Chick Natalie Maines’ comment that she was ashamed President Bush was a fellow Texan. The network suggested the complaint may be a publicity stunt.

The problem arose when the Weinstein Co. began conversations with networks about buying ads to be shown nationally, in anticipation of later wider release of the film. The ad includes footage of the Iraq War, gives a brief background on Maines’ 2003 comment made onstage in London, and shows Maines dismissing as “dumb” a comment made by Bush about the Dixie Chicks. CBS has agreed to air the ad, a spokeswoman for the Weinstein Co. said. ABC and Fox have not given an answer while the CW and NBC rejected it. The film distributors said NBC explained it was because the ad disparaged President Bush.

I was surprised to read this because I’ve seen the ad a bunch of times, possibly during the ten minutes of Oprah I watch every day before my nap. That’s ABC. What the hell is NBC thinking?

Let’s go back to our Founding Fathers and 1776 again:

Hopkins: Well, in all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yeah! I’m for debating anything. Rhode Island says yea!

The freer the speech, the freer the people. I too am for debating anything, and I will never be convinced otherwise. I mean, unless you’d prefer to sing.

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We Always Liked Picasso Anyway

It can be difficult to tell the difference between fiction and fact, fantasy and reality. Wait, that’s backward. When I saw that even the third time, I screamed a little. Somewhere, that this is real. So let’s fantasize a little.

Amendment XXV
Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

I saw it, as if in a (cue: harp players – strum! strum!) dweam… except this happened last night.

Tata: I’m WHAT?
Anya: Wearing a costume. We’re wearing costumes. We’ll be handing out samples of this stuff and at the toy store, we’re having an event with Mr. Ray* and…
Tata: I’m WHAT?
Anya: Dressing up. My mother decided to come as Annie Hall. I have a witch costume. The kids are all dressed up anyway. It’s going to be a blast!

This morning, I emailed Siobhan. She could hear the growling sixty miles away.

Tata: Guess what?
Siobhan: Monkeys are actually flying out of your butt?
Tata: Close! Anya told me I’m wearing a costume to the store on Saturday and you know what? I’m going to. Know why? Because MY LITTLE SISTER IS THE BOSS OF ME.

As she had recently worked for her own family and made a similar discovery, it was quite some time before Siobhan could breathe.

*UPDATE: Mary called in a panic.

Mary: Is Mr. Ray coming to the store this weekend?
Tata: DON’T YOU KNOW BETTER THAN TO TAKE THE WORD OF A MORON LIKE ME? You should call the store and ask a grownup!
Mary: What’s the number?

I Googled it, because I don’t actually work there and even though it’s my family and all I can’t remember phone numbers for 50% of my sisters. Mary emailed back immediately. This is merely a step below the two-tin-cans-and-string arrangement to which we aspire.

Mary: Alrighty Madge, here’s the scoop, Mr. Ray will be hangin’ at [the toy store] on Black Friday for a CD signing. I remained anonymous throughout the phone call so I can neither confirm nor deny your need for a costume.
Tata: I have GOT to try paying attention when people are talking!

Huh! What is my sister up to?

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Proof Is the Bottom Line For Everyone

As a thrifty person in a room full of thrifty persons, I flip through the weekly common coupon collection at my desk every Monday, then I pass the collection to the next person. Since our situations are different and tastes couldn’t be more so, our savings needs seldom conflict. Yesterday, something in the flier caught my eye. I finished clipping what I needed, then went back. I put the flier on Lupe’s desk. I went back and retrieved it. After I left work, I tried for hours to find this picture on the website in copy – but no dice. So here it is, the image that made me sit in my cubicle and cluck like a chicken for TWO HOURS.
Click to to enlarge, I beg of you.

Because I love you and could not deny you the full-on, bloated horror that is the tasteless collection of figurines, I perused that site for hours last night. At no time did I feel the slightest urge to grab my wallet and spend like I found a shoe sale at Nordstrom. Hell, no. In fact, next time I decide, ‘You know, bulimia was a great diet plan,’ I’m headed straight for the Ashton-Drake Galleries online so I can bask in all the nauseating ways Native American princess figurines can alleviate our Trail of Tears guilt with the heady thought that we helped whole peoples depart from this miserable, impovershed and violence-ridden earthly existence to the glamorous afterlife and pretty, pretty conversion van fantasies. I’ll puke to that, friend!

As an added bonus, the site is filled with charming reminders that Jesus was a Jew, and Jews don’t make graven images, and in the second century I think it was someone else decided that wasn’t true anymore. So please. Get Jesus an Excedrin.

Slave To the Rhythm

Part I., Part II.

Part III. I sit down at the table next to Theresa, Dom’s girlfriend. Dom, Sharkey, Dom’s housemate and a high school friend all troop upstairs to smoke after dinner. By the time I arrive, I couldn’t care less about food. Theresa’s still eating. I got myself a small bowl of rice and pork.

Theresa: You’re not hungry? You must be hungry.
Tata: No, no, thanks, this is plenty! I was getting ready to leave the house when my sister called because she’s got some hideous conglomeration of plagues in Flemington and the baby’s stranded in Somerset.
Theresa: You can’t overlook that. What did you do?
Tata: I spent three weeks in the store, delivered bags of groceries to the babysitter’s house and looked at the baby. I thought she was going to take out the pacifier and shout, “IT SURE TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH!” They are raising a princess, they are.
Theresa: You only called about an hour ago, maybe a little more.
Tata: What? It seems like weeks. And I look awful!
Theresa: You do not!
Tata: You shameless flatterer! My horoscope says I get someone new and significant this week. Last time it said that, I got Sharkey.
Theresa: Wow, he’s really important.
Tata: Absolutely, I couldn’t live without him. And I figured out what I’ve been doing wrong with men. I dress nicely and gussy up and then they meet the tired, overworked me later, which is backwards. If they like me this way, they’ll LOVE me later. There’s no place to go from here but UP.
Theresa: Omigod, I never thought of it that way.
Tata: Exactly. I don’t want to go around looking better than I do first thing in the morning. Ooh, and I’m only going to date men with bad eyesight. Because I’m only going to age, and they’ll think I’m glamorously backlit.

After about 45 minutes, I went home before 8, having explained the yogurt and fruit. The broccoli and cauliflower were not, in fact, overdone, which was a fucking miracle. I was so exhausted I went to bed early.

Amendment XXII
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.

This morning, the alarm clock was blinking. I called work and said I was on my way. As I walked under the old trees, I laughed and felt the green leaves, the yellow leaves, the red leaves, the brown leaves and wind-broken branches as if each were mine and mine alone.

Everything amuses me today.

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That Girl Running Around With You

Part I.

II. A raspy baritone I didn’t recognize called.

Daria: I need a big favor.
Daria: Shut up, it’s me.
Tata: Oh. Whaddya need?
Daria: I have strep, an ear infection, and two pink eyes. My sons are sick, my husband is sick. I am crawling around my house with rubber gloves and a spray bottle of bleach.
Tata: Crap! What could you need from me?
Daria: Fifi was with Mom last night but she went to New York. Fifi’s with the babysitter and she’s out of food.
Tata: …and the babysitter doesn’t drive or speak English, got it. Let my wash the olive oil off my hands and make a grocery list.

Daria called at an intriguing moment. Twenty minutes later and I probably would’ve been gone. I’d showered and laid out clothes. I was as primped for Dom’s dinner party as I was going to get. The yogurt was ready, the fruit was packed. I was seasoning vegetables and roasting them briefly so they wouldn’t turn into babyfood in transit to Dom’s house. I made a grocery list, looked around and realized I wasn’t wearing any pants. With my friends, this wouldn’t be much of a problem. I’ve spent a lot of time nekkid in public as an artist and a model, and every last one of my friends has seen my birthday suit, with and without body makeup, but Stop & Shop would not view my arriving sans pantalons with the same sang-froid. So I put on a pair of khakis I used to paint my bedroom and drove to the grocery store in my hometown, where I was immediately lost in the store’s gigantic yuppie splendor.

Amendment XXI
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

Miss Sasha is 23, so it’s been awhile since I shopped for baby stuff. In that time, all kinds of crap has changed. Now: diapers come in sizes and genders. When Miss Sasha was a baby, they came in relative baby weights. Now: babies must eat designer chicken nuggets in amusing shapes. When Miss Sasha was a baby, we cooked chicken and cut it up into little hunks she could pick up with her little paws. Now: babies must have macaroni and cheese with every meal and nobody calls DYFS. When Miss Sasha was a baby, you felt underdressed without a caseworker. It was the eighties. I didn’t wear the shoulder pad styles, either. So I stood in the diaper aisle trying to figure out how the small packages could possibly contain 35 or 52 of these twenty-first century, super-absorbent, garbage-dump clogging, engineering wonders that would be the right size, shape, color and tensile strength to keep the indefatigable and relentless Miss Fifi from a lifetime of out-patient therapy, and while I was standing there, I started laughing. Suddenly, this was as funny as life gets. A man graying at the temples and teenaged boy stood next to me, staring at baby foods. The man was on the phone. This baby stuff has become so complicated nobody can do it without consulting other interested parties.

Tata: I haven’t shopped for diapers in twenty years! Did you know there are now six sizes of babies – and that’s it?
Man: Bffft! I can’t pick oatmeal!

In the next aisle, they passed me.

Tata: Did you know there are chlorine-free diapers?
Man: Is this your baby?
Tata: She’s my niece!

The organic yogurt brands were the only ones Daria specifically warned me Fifi wouldn’t eat. I circled the store, reading the overhead signs and bashing into canned goods displays.

Good thing I was wearing pants.

I walked up and down the pasta aisle in a naive attempt to find macaroni and cheese. No, no, it was in the next aisle with Prepared Dinners, where I found the man and the boy.

Tata: Did you know every child must eat this crap? Some sort of local ordinance.
Man: What some parents feed their kids!
Tata: And I’m enabling!

I don’t even want to talk about the sugar-filled nonsense that is yogurt for kids in colors and flavors. Even my skull is too soft to bash against that rock. In the produce section, I found Trout waiting to get her deli order filled. I picked melon, bananas and apples. She picked ham. The man took a number and Trout will talk to anybody so I know know the boy was his nephew and he prefers turkey. I paid someone quite a lot of money to let me leave without an arrest record and drove to the babysitter’s house. I handed her bags of groceries. The TV blared news in Spanish. I looked around for the vivacious Miss Fifi and found her reclining in the living room. I patted her hand. We had a whole sub-verbal conversation.

Tata: Hey, Pumpkinpuss. What’s shakin’?
Miss Fifi: Oh. It’s you. I won’t get up.
Tata: I’ll…be going, then…

So I drove to Dom’s house.

Part III.

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Even the Orchestra Was Beautiful

I. My friend Dom was having the usual suspects over for dinner last night, and I was very perky about it. He was planning stewed pork and Spanish rice. I volunteered to bring vegetables. Saturday evening, I cut up cauliflower and two broccoli trees. Then I mascerated fruit and set up luxurious dessert yogurt with heavy cream to warm over night. By the time I went to bed I felt like I’d prep-cooked for an army of persnickety produce managers.

Amendment XX
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission.

When I first looked at this amendment my head hurt. Then I thought, ‘No, that’s sinus pain caused by falling barometric pressure or sudden shifts in reality.’ Blah blah blah live and dead presidents, succession, Congress shall assemble. We’re good here.

Sunday, I wanted to do a whole lot of nothing – and succeeded, when I should have been doing yoga or cycling around town or rewiring Kansas. To placate me, I cut open the box and started assembling a wall-mounted cabinet matching the armoire in the bathroom. As much as I love puzzles that yield furniture-y results, each now comes with a vexing rediscovery that ‘right’ and ‘left’ aren’t as natural for me as for the righthanded puzzle-solvers, and at some point in one of these exercises, I will find myself holding a screwdriver and trying to determine whether I am upside-down or right-side-up, and which way must I turn this screwdriver to secure the locking nut? And don’t think it’s so easy any fool can do it because this fool has to figure it out fresh on every go-round. My brain works differently than yours does. Quit growling. I adapt to your screwy righthanded, differently tall and otherly right-side-up world! Ooh, watch this little health film starring me, and my sister Daria’s tall, Republican, former Marine husband, whom I love to pieces:

Tata: Thank you for giving me the car. It’s great to step on a gas pedal and have something, you know, happen.
Tyler: Everything’s good?
Tata: I moved the seat all the way forward, tilted the steering wheel downward and lifted the seat up. I’ve never had a car that did that before. It’s fantastic. I can almost see over the dashboard.
Tyler: Almost? How do you drive?
Tata: I guess. Most people do. They call it ‘spatial awareness’ but they’re guessing.
Tyler: Why don’t you lift the seat higher?
Tata: Conflict with the solid object called the steering wheel.
Tyler: That’s just not possible.
Tata: Welcome to the World of Ta. I’ll be your host as we journey through life with a torso so short boobs and a belly look redundant…

I was pouring olive oil on herbed vegetables when the phone rang.

Part II.

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