Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Mother of All Fears

Shannon and I went to a salon for pedicures and eyebrow waxing. We lazed on the massage chairs and engaged in a satisfying bout of "girl talk."

The subject of the Brazilian bikini wax arose. We pulled both nail technicians into our raucous discussions. One of the ladies also does all the waxing for the salon, and detailed the Brazilian procedure, although she does not provide that service herself.

"They even get all the hair near your butthole," she swore, eyebrows raised. "You should see all the crazy positions you have to get in, they get every hair."

Shannon and I howled. "Can you imagine?" I gasped. "Paying someone to rip ALL the fur off Miss Kitty?"

"Oh, HELL no," Shannon yelled. "I mean, excuse me, I missed an ass hair, let me pluck it real quick."

"If some man tried to talk me into getting that done, I'd tell him, sure, as soon as you're willing to put duct tape on your nether regions and rip it off."

Then the discussion turned to facial hair, which we all have in greater abundance than we'd like. I disclosed that I'm always rubbing my thumb under my chin, looking for the alarmingly wiry hair that grows there and requires constant vigilance to keep under control.

The nail tech laughed, "Me, too! I thought I was the only one!"

"Actually," I said, "The whole time I was in Iraq, I worried that if I got wounded, I'd wake up in the hospital three weeks later with a full goatee."

"I think that, too! It's my greatest fear!" The nail tech was laughing to the point of tears.

"Think about it, there'd be all these important people coming in to see you, and here you are, prone in a horrid green shirt with gorilla brows and a goatee. My first request would be a mirror and tweezers," I declared.

Walker Percy said that the more intimate you get, the more universal. Proof positive in the nail salon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Part Two

Here's the second half of the biker bar story, which I didn't have time to add until this morning. It's about 5:30 am and I woke up almost an hour ago, stared at the ceiling for about twenty minutes, then got up.

I mentioned I'd left the rental car--a dreadful little Kia that drives like a sewing machine--at the restaurant. So the next morning (Sunday), I had to walk about half a mile to go get it. The Arizona sun felt like stepping into a microwave--I had a slight hangover. But there was a pleasant breeze, it was about 70 degrees, and once my mole-eyes adjusted to the sun, the walk was actually quite nice.

I saw a large, white Dodge pickup pass me on this busy street, travelling the same direction I walked. The guy slowed, honked, and waved. There was a big Harley window sticker on the back of his camper top. I gave that little not-sure-who-you-are-but-you know, hey wave, thinking maybe it was someone from the training, or whom I'd met at the Sorry Gulch, something.

He slowed still more, and made the next left. Oh, maybe it's Gus and he's going to give me a ride, I'm thinking. He stopped at the next cross-street as I was about to walk across it, and I saw this old Mexican guy, baldness and long, scraggly hair in the back visible even from that distance. He pretended to play around with some papers in the passenger seat, and my spidey sense started tingling.

I crossed in front of him, looking straight ahead. Just for the record, I'm dressed in blue jeans, a nondescript brown t-shirt, hiking shoes, and sunglasses. I'm clearly not one of the hookers strolling down Fry Blvd. in tight, skimpy clothing. And, I might add, it's 10 am on a Sunday morning. And I'm a little hungover.

I watched the traffic travelling my direction, across the median, for the truck. Sure enough, there he was, leering out the window at me, making another left in front of me. He turned into a used car sales lot and made a big, stupid production of pushing down on the front end of a 'Vette, like he's just out car shopping, nothing going on here, no sirree!!

"You need a ride, honey?" he asked, still bouncing the 'Vette's fender.

"Not from you. Keep moving." I said, walking a bit faster. I heard him take a few steps toward me, burbling some shit about I just want to help you out. Yeah, help me out of my pants, I'm sure.

"No, really, keep moving," I said loudly over my shoulder. He got back into the truck and I watched him drive past twice more before I reached the Kia. Well, I'm thinking, it's over, I'm here at the car.

I got in and drove toward Pier One...I just bought a house, now I get to look for some sort of outdoor lighting for my wonderful patio. I checked the rearview mirror...and there he was, several cars back. I turned right down Coronado to see if he'd follow. He did, hanging far enough back, I guess I wasn't supposed to see how slick he was.

I remembered that my friend John, a very large, Puerto Rican, ex-Special Forces type, was looking at a house nearby. I turned down that street, thinking I'd invite dumbass inside and let John pound the crap out of him. No such luck, John's car wasn't there.

After several more turns, I pulled up at Fry Blvd. again, to make a left. There were two turning lanes and he pulled up next to me. I waved, smiling, and motioned for him to roll down his window.

"STOP FUCKING FOLLOWING ME. IF I SEE YOU AGAIN, I'M CALLING THE COPS." I bellowed as his face went from oh, goodie, she likes me to oh holy shit. And I saw his teeth were rotted. Probably a meth addict, they're all over the place down here.

The light turned green and I sped off. He was still behind me, hanging back, and I thought, screw this mess. I pulled my cellphone from my purse and dialed 911.

I explained it to the dispatcher--no, I didn't get the license plate, but you can't miss it, it has a huge Harley window sticker--and told her I'd make a right on Lenzner, please have a squad car meet me somewhere on that street.

He followed. I saw the cop about two blocks up coming toward us. I waved out the window and pointed to the truck. He turned on his lights and blocked his path. Game over, asshole.

I told the story later that night to a co-worker's wife, and she said the same guy stalked someone she works with at the bank. The police tell me they can't arrest him because he didn't touch me. So I suppose we have to wait until he actually attacks someone, which he will, before they put him in the clinker. So I'm halfway tempted to walk up and down Fry until I see him again, and have John about a block behind me, and execute a little community policing on his ass.

But I fly out Thursday and I'm busy as hell until then. Next time, though, I've got John on speed dial and he's raring to stomp all over our little friend.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Channeling Bukowski

Yesterday was Shannon's birthday and I promised I'd get drunk with her. Within reason, of course, and I'm happy to report that I am quite cognizant of that fine line between happily buzzed and stupid, unbecomingly drunk. And I stay squarely on the happy buzz side of the equation by periodically standing up and walking to the bathroom, even if I don't have to go, to gauge how well I can see beyond the tiny glass on the table in front of me.

I spent a year in Korea. The last time I drank Soju, I came to in the middle of the street in Seoul as a blessedly large friend hauled me up on his shoulders for the subway ride back to Uijongbu. And I don't actually remember the subway ride. Thank God for battle buddies.

Last night, we commandeered a small Korean restaurant for Shannon's party. I had no intention of drinking Soju. I had a feeling the smell alone would make me heave. To my surprise, the Soju sold here in the States is only 40 proof, and lacks that lingering formaldehyde flavor. After Much Talking of the Shit, the gauntlet was thrown down, the challenges issued from both ends of the long table, and we all began rounds of ice-cold Soju shots. As is my habit, I took my Stupid-Drunk tests every so often, and switched to ice water as soon as the giggles set in. I'm a pro.

Then they cranked up the obligatory karoake machine. I sang my ass off. Norah Jones, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, I was up there belting them out...fortunately, we were the only ones in this little restaurant, Gus knows the owner, and we talked the staff into taking shots with us. It was a blast. I left the rental car at the restaurant--yes, when I go drinking, I do it like an adult. Cabs are called, purses and cellphones are safely stashed in the room, and designated cattle herders keep everyone in line.

From there we made our way to the Sorry Gulch Saloon. The name, the line of Harleys under the airbrushed sign, and the "Thursday Night Amateur Stripper" events go a long way to properly describe this dive. It's big fun...pool tables, lots of big tatooed characters with great stories, and again, Gus knows everyone there.

But this time, it was oddly deserted. We tumbled in the door, loud and obnoxious and sporting jaunty little birthday cone-hats. I soon discerned, even in my somewhat compromised state, that the reason it was deserted was that the owner tended bar by herself. She was a supremely sour-looking woman, mouth puckered to the size of an eraserhead with general disapproval, and a face that likely hasn't smiled since the last Presidential election.

I emerged from the bathroom and the room felt distinctly hostile, waves of ill-will wafting our way from behind the bar. We played some pool, and someone yelled Fuck! on missing a shot. It may even have been me. A big bouncer with one leg pegged his way over to me and said, with a straight face, "You can't say that word in here."

Of course I laughed. He didn't. I may have even hooted something that sounded like, "Do you mean to tell me I can't say FUCK in a biker bar?? What kind of crap is that??"

So now, gentle readers, yours truly has been ejected by a peglegged bouncer from a biker bar in southern Arizona, with a Thursday Night Amateur weekly stripper event, for cursing.