Shooting the Messenger

The scene at dinner:

[I am seated with my mother, father, elder brother S, and his partner O. It is a charming, old Italian restaurant with dark red tablecloths and curtains, plus pretty Tiffany-style lamps for each table.]

Mom: I messed up on Facebook. I’m so confused by Messenger.

O: What did you do?

Mom: I don’t know what happened. I was trying to create a group on Facebook, and next thing I know, I’ve sent a bunch of messages to people, and they’re all saying they aren’t interested. So I deleted my page.

S: You were trying to create a group? I am confused. What were you doing?

Me: Were you just trying to make a group list of your contacts, like for privacy permission?

Mom: Yeah.

Me: Ohhh. I bet Messenger sent a bunch of messages to people in your contacts telling them you joined Messager–and Facebook then will try to get them to download the Messenger app if they try to view new messages while on mobile.

Mom: I think that is what happened.

Me [ready to stab a steak knife through the table]: I HATE THAT MESSENGER SHIT.

[The table breaks out into laughter.]

O: So tell us how you really feel.

Swamp-Cooler Talk

I was going to lunch with my team.

Katelyn said, “I love working with F because she’s funny when she’s not even trying to be funny. She just tells it like it is.”

Some 30 minutes later, my boss and I are talking about a former coworker at our previous employer:

My boss: “…she just wants to be a big fish in a small pond.”

Me: “Too bad she turned it into a swamp.”

Dads and Daughters

Even though R and Dina are gone, the parents are still in town until Monday morning. Last night, we ate at Dad’s favorite place in Berkeley (Sliver) before–well, let me not get ahead of myself here. We went to IKEA. I wanted a bench, a simple bench for the window of my apartment (still a shortage of eating there, which my father complained about constantly while in it).However, Dad insisted on a loveseat Bygyll or Mygyll or some other Swedish name, you know how it is. I was extremely doubtful we could fit furniture of that size and the three if us in his car. 

He asked the IKEA staff for measurements of what the boxes are that it comes in. They printed it out for him and he determined (in 100% confidence of Dad-is-always-right mode) that it would fit.

Then we got separated as he had to keep running to the bathroom but only came back as he said he couldn’t find it despite all the signage and arrows. So my mom had to escort him, but her phone was dead from (what else?) playing Pokémon Go. I waited a bit to see if they would find me before checking out as I wanted confirmation the sofa WOULD fit before buying it (if I didn’t, I knew I would be hearing him complain for the next two years every time they visited about having nowhere to sit.)

After browsing the rest of the store, I waited in Self-Service. I waited 30minutes before I went ahead and moved to check out, paying for the couch. It wasn’t a purchase I could pick out myself in the self-service section, but one the staff had to pick out from the back once I paid for it. I met the parents as I’m paying for everything.They move the car to the loading zome while I wait for the 2 boxes that are being picked out from their backstock.

The IKEA guy brings out the boxes, and as soon as I saw them, I knew we were in trouble. Sure was a hell of a lot bigger than I was expecting. Well, this will be…fun. Dad damn near threw a tantrum as we played Tetris with the poor IKEA guy in the middle. I grew worried Dad was having a sugar low and/or about to have a PTSD/dementia episode and hurt someone. He got the crazy eyes when he shouted, “Goddammit!” and I thought we were minutes away from a 5150 call.

The good news:

The boxes and three people CAN fit in a KIA Sorento.

Buuuuuuut in order to accomplish this, both middle and rear seats have to be fully flat. Thus, Dad was forced to curl up into a snail position, wedged between the side and the largest box. He did it in the trip from IKEA in Emeryville to Sliver in Berkeley, and then from Berkeley to San Francisco.

We managed to avoid any tickets and made it to my apartment in one piece. I then had had to go up three flights of stairs five times. I carried the stuff up myself. Dad attempted to help with the largest box, but really it was all me pushing.

Family–never a dull moment.

I shared this story with Seabiscuit and found his reaction (from a dad’s perspective) a perfect ending:

OMG. Dad in moving car, no seat belt, stuffed in a small corner of his own making. The epic metaphor of fatherly wisdom.

Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.

Mr. Fix-It: Part Two

Prepare yourself, gentle readers of Northern California, for a life-changing experience. I hope you are seated, but not too closely together to another chair.

On Monday the five of us (me, my mother and father, my brother R and his girlfriend) had traveled up north to go on a cheese tour. On our way back from goat cheese and wine pairings, we stopped at a Peet’s Coffee in north Santa Rosa. I hadn’t had coffee all day and felt deprived; it isn’t their coffee I love so much as their espresso.
I ask everyone their order except my father because what he says he wants is not what he wants; he says hot coffee with steamed milk, but at the ratio he considers perfection (i.e. when he won’t complain and ask the barista for hot water or to microwave it), what he really wants is a latte. I order everyone’s drinks while everyone’s taking turns at the restrooms. I put together two round tables and bring together five chairs for us.

For whatever reason, when my father sits down, he grabs another chair and pulls it close to his own even though we already have enough. I go up and grab our drinks as they come out.

Everyone is enjoying their drinks, even my father. I help my brother with his phone because he couldn’t figure out how to get Pokémon Go working. (I still don’t play it, but I knew what the issue was.)

My father decides his drink needs one more Splenda, so he moves to get up but immediately sits back down. There is a look of pained horror on his face that I find baffling.

“What’s that face for?” I ask. “The Splenda is right over there.”

He hangs his head down and shakes it.

“What?” Now all of us are turned and looking at him, giving our full attention.

After a long pause and more head shaking, he says:

“These chairs were too close together, and when I moved,” here he lowers his voice, “I pinched my scrotum.”

If any of us had anything in our mouths at that moment, I am certain we would have either choked or spit it out. Instead, we all began laughing, me especially because if he hadn’t pulled in the unneeded sixth chair to begin with, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

When he finally got his Splenda, he stayed standing a while, hovering over us.

“Why aren’t you sitting down?” My brother asks.

“He’s still in recovery from his chair incident,” I say. More laughter.

I shall never be able to visit that Peet’s ever again without remembering this story. And if you, gentle readers, should find yourself at that Peet’s in North Santa Rosa, be careful where you sit, knowing that two chairs there once pinched an older man’s scrotum.

Movie Review: Max Steel – Some Teenage Wet Dream

With all the rain, we let Dina and R decide what to do as it was their last day visiting. They decided on a movie. Dina picked Max Steel. How do I feel about that movie?

I knew I was in trouble when I saw Mattel was involved with the production in the opening credits. How do I describe it? Power Rangers on steroids? Soft gay porn for straight, vanilla, middle-aged women? A Barbie’s world superhero movie? I am sure that early in production, a group of people (they can’t be called writers!) were in the room and asked themselves: “What does this movie need?” And another person answered, “Max should rip off his shirt and stand for a few seconds before sitting down to use his computer. Because doesn’t every teenager do that to get ready to do a Google search?” (Shouldn’t it have been his pants as he reached for a tube sock and Vaseline?)

And in the scene, in that moment just before he sits down, it’s as if he himself were questioning his acting career (or existence) before resuming his intelligence of Barbie’s faithful companion, Ken.

I’m sure someone patted themselves on the back when they struck upon the idea of this shot:

[Max dramatically types, “what am i????????” The final question mark coming only after a long pause, striking the hearts of every member of the audience. All five of them.]

Clearly this movie needs to be nominated for a few awards. Catwoman might not have won the Razzies if this movie had come out the same year. Sorry, Halle Berry, you have met your match.

The kid shoots out of his hands what looked like feminine spunk with fluorescent blue semen highlights. Every time it happened, I pictured how it was written in the script:

Max: Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!

[As Max continues screaming, another close up of vagina hands. This time the semen forms hexagons instead of splattering on the camera lens.]

The writing was on par with the first X-Men movie. I arched an eyebrow when Max says (trying to sound threatening but failing): “When I have too much energy, I explode.” Uh huh. I’m sure you do, kid. Sure you do.

Mr. Fix-It

My family came to visit, seeing my new apartment in San Francisco for the first time.

My dad, in typical fatherly fashion, had to make himself useful by playing Mr. Fix-It.

“What’s wrong with your sink?” He asks, as if he doesn’t already know.

“It runs slow,” I answer.

“Did your friend not live here for a long time?”

“He has been gone a while.”

“The pipes are probably clogged with silt. I can fix this. Do you have something I can use to clean the pipes, like a hanger?”

I find an old dry cleaner’s hanger with the cardboard bottom and hand it to him. He pulls the cardboard stick part off and starts messing with the sink.

The rest of us continue doing normal family visiting things, like talking. I hear him continue to tinker away with the sink, flushing water, and seeing how slow it drains.

Finally he moves on to the metal part of the coat hanger and bends it like a fishing line and hook. He starts trying to clear whatever gunk buildup he can reach with it. Then it gets stuck.

He calls my younger brother for help, figuring a younger, stronger person could get the coat hanger unstuck. My brother fails, and it starts looking like we’ll need to take apart the pipes.

My father likes to tell people how he once visited a fortune teller who read his palm and told him that in a past life he was a great Chinese philosopher. Confucius, he decided.

As I relay the news to the rest of the family that we now need to make a trip to the local hardware store to fix the sink, I joke, “In a past life, he was an abortionist.”

“But not a very good one,” my brother adds.

Dad Stories

So my family is in town, and we hung out at my older brother’s place in the Castro for a while. It was me, S and his boyfriend Oscar, my mom and dad, our younger brother R and his girlfriend Dina.

We started talking about broken bones–whose broken them and what. R has broken both arms (both due to rollerblading) and had crutches for a while, but nobody could remember what he did that he was in crutches twice. Dina broke both her wrists in high school while trying to protect herself after falling backwards; one broke right after the other healed and had the cast removed. My mother has also broken a wrist and had pins in her arm for a while because of how badly splintered the bone was in her case (she slipped by a pool). I’ve only broken a big toe; it was two years ago.

Jacob and I were on our way to the gym, walking there, and a man and his kids were on one side. The kids were running, so we moved to the other side to let them pass. However, the side we were then on had one of those large plants with long leaves that flow over the sidewalk, and it partly masked the unevenness of the concrete. My feet got tangled, and I tripped. In trying to stop myself from falling, I kicked my right leg out–slamming my right toe directly into the back of Jacob’s heel. I had to wear an orthopedic shoe for a few months; it wasn’t something they could cast.

Then S asks my father, “But you’ve never broken anything, right?”

He hesitates to respond, and my mother, myself, and R begin to laugh.

“Well, I have,” he says slowly.

“It’s the stupidest way to break anything,” I say.

S, puzzled by the rest of us laughing, asks, “What did you break?”

“I broke my toe,” my dad says. “In a movie theater.”

“How did you do that?”

“I felt an itch on my big toe, and it wouldn’t go away. So I bent my toe and pressed down really, really hard.”

“So you’re either really weak or really strong–which is it?” R laughs.

“Wait, so you broke your own toe? What did the doctor say when he found out?”

“I lied. I said it started after I’d been exercising in the pool.”

“He wanted his doctor to have an impression he gets more exercise than he really does and not admit he broke it himself while sitting down,” I say, still laughing.

“And then they took forever to tell me that I broke it because they thought I might have gout and they made me do blood tests before doing an X-ray.”

“Because you never told the truth!” I exclaim, “They had no idea you broke it yourself!”

“I told the truth eventually,” my dad says.

“Really?” I ask. “When?”

“When I saw a different doctor.”

Early Mornings

Seabiscuit is an early riser. He woke up before me, kissed me and said I didn’t need to wake up just yet. It was very sweet. 

I couldn’t sleep in though because I wanted as much time with him as I could get. I went to the restroom and saw a new toothbrush had been left out for me, and I felt very touched. I got dressed and met Seabiscuit in his little kitchen nook. When he saw me coming, he rose out of his chair to hug and kiss me.

He offered me some toast and coffee. He chopped up some fresh, sweet tomatoes too. He asked if Lord Byron had emailed me back yet after I sent the photos. I grabbed my phone and checked. I laughed as soon as I read his message. Then I read Lord Byron’s email out loud so he could enjoy it too:

What nice photos! And how happy you look. Clearly Mr Seabiscuit is good for you! Excellent photos.

Lord Byron reciprocated the photos by sending two of his own: one of a river near where he walks, and the other of a surprise visitor in his bedroom this morning! Thankfully it was a little sparrow and not a cock shot. You never know with men from Craigslist, eh? But we all know that’s not Lord Byron’s style.

After coffee, it was back to bed because why not? Eventually we showered and made our way out. We did have a deadline, if only because Seabiscuit had to fly out to Sweden later in the day. There were some great moments in bed though. I’ll never forget his face turning red with embarrassment when I reminded he ought to indulge one of his kinks. He had forgotten, so sidetracked by staring into my eyes. It made me laugh but was also sweet. He said I could have been a cruel Mistress and not reminded him until we were halfway through our 1.5 hour drive back to San Francisco. Now that would have been funny, but I’m not that cruel. Not yet.

Seabiscuits and Seabags: A Duel Over One Man’s Honor

I can be a bit mischievous. Quite, actually.

A few weeks ago, Seabiscuit, the master of selfies, sent a photo of himself with “naked ladies” and I wrote to Lord Byron about it with great amusement, careful to craft my words in such a way as to potentially cause a misunderstanding yet simple enough to protest innocence should that happen. I wrote:

Sadly no bird watching with Seabiscuit yet. He’s a bit too busy with all his naked ladies. He took a nice selfie with a bunch of them and sent it to me. Of course, now I see his face anytime I see them, and they seem to be just about everywhere here. Not sure if they are as common on your side of the pond, except maybe on Page 3…

Lord Byron responded with the following:

I do hope this finds you in the pink. Your friend Mr ‘Seabag’—if I may speak frankly—puzzles me. I cannot decide whether the tasteless vulgar behaviour you describe in sending you such photos is indicative of blind insensitivity, simple crassness or outright stupidity. Quite a problem! And then another presents itself—why would anyone such as your good self want to engage with such an ignorant prick? How puzzling is human behaviour!

I burst out laughing upon reading his email. Seabag! If only I could have a recording of him reading it in his posh voice–oh, how delightful that would be! I am unmercifully wicked.

In return, I wrote Lord Byron:

Oh dear! You have misunderstood the play on words. Naked ladies is (at least here) the common name of this flower:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaryllis — don’t worry, no actual nude photographs here! Seabiscuit is the same who sent a photo of his “cock”, which was actually a photograph of a rooster. You are too funny in renaming him “Seabag”! That made me laugh.

In addition, I shared the exchange with Seabiscuit. A few days later, when Seabiscuit and I met in person to go bird watching, he still seemed a little hurt by Lord Byron’s calling him ‘Seabag’; he asked me to send the selfie to Lord Byron so that he would realize his grave error in attacking Seabiscuit’s honor. That request delighted me, and I was only too happy to oblige.

I emailed Lord Byron and attached the Seabiscuit’s selfie with naked ladies with the following:

Seabiscuit also personally requested that I pass along his photo with his naked ladies to show that you have gravely offended him and stained his honor in renicknaming him “Seabag”. (I told him about your confusion in the matter with the paragraph I wrote to you.)

I believe his exact quote was, “Hey, no need to be mean. Why can’t we all just enjoy the Mistress of the Sapphire Seas?”

Then I waited for Lord Byron’s response.

Laughter

​One of the company cofounders comes over to our team. He pulls up a chair and sits next to the coworker beside me and says to her, “Just a quick question. Has anyone ever complained about X?”

Even though I am not the one he is asking, I respond first: I immediately burst out laughing. I laugh loudly. Loud enough to get the sales team to send someone over to shush me as they present to clients nearby.

My laughter, infectious, made the cofounder and my coworker also laugh.

My coworker: “This happens all the time. You ask what you think is a perfectly reasonable and normal question, and Fel just bursts out laughing.”