Friday, April 24, 2015

we used to be cool.

dave chappelle is a goddamn miracle. BUT FIRST, NASHVILLE. in the interest of having something heartfelt and engrossing to put in this goddamn book i'm tirelessly working on, i can't divulge all of the details of my trip in this dumb blog. listen, i'm an asshole on a deadline. if i could dream up other poignant, interesting shit to put in this book before my manuscript is due june 15th i'd tell you in explicit detail how i 1 mistakenly called some gnarly old perv's house in a fruitless attempt to locate my oldest brother 2 hung out with and got tattooed by a couple adorable slick-haired rockabilly dudes in west nashville who told us the best places to get drunk and eat chicken and 3 how, after sneaking onto a snooty golf course on easter sunday and waiting for the motherfucking wind to die down while anxiously checking over my shoulder to make sure the police weren't coming to arrest my trespassing ass, i picked what i thought was the perfect moment to tip the canister containing my father's ashes into the gently lapping waves of the river when a hateful breeze whipped around a corner and rewarded my efforts with a mouthful of my dead father's old incinerated skull and butthole. HALLELUJAH CHRIST IS RISEN.

i am no longer doing any more things. i am officially too old for concerts, shows, festivals, and special events. if you said to me, "hey sam, would you like to go see dave chappelle do stand up?" my answer would be "HELL YES, MY DUDE. ASK IF THEY HAVE DISCOUNTED HANDICAPPED SEATS." but if you were to instead say, "hey sam, would you like to put on a real shirt and actual pants to be herded like cattle in a single file line into a steamy theater with a malfunctioning bathroom where a gentleman wearing a bluetooth in all earnestness will shout threats about confiscating your phone if you so much as check the weather on it as he forces you to throw your leftover meatloaf sandwich into the trash, only to then be shown to an expensive-ass section of bare wooden church pew on which you must suffer the indignity of the call-and-response dj playing 50 cent asking 'where my 90s babies at?' (FUCKKKK I WAS A BONAFIDE ADULT WHEN IN DA CLUB CAME OUT MURDER ME PLS) while people who intentionally selected seats in the center of the row sprinkle half of their $9 budweisers in your lap as they squeeze past a dozen times coming to and from the bar to see ashy larry do his best impersonation of magic johnson's son while waiting for your comedy hero to grace the stage?" i'ma say "NO THANKS" and quietly delete your number out of my fucking phone. then i'ma use some scissors to cut the elastic waist on my inside pants and watch "killin' them softly" on the stolen hbo go on my ipad.

and oh, i hear you. stay the fuck home you bitter old herb. and you're right, i should. I WILL. i'm smart enough to know that the list of shit i hate is getting longer while the probability of any of those things being fixed is dwindling to nothing. is it too much to ask the people who are going to be up and down all goddamn night, awkwardly shimmying past bitches in their church clothes to choose seats at the end of the motherfucking row? i bore easily and have to shit all the time, so i always buy a goddamn aisle seat because i don't like it when people hate me. YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE A BEER DURING A SHOW GUY. i'm not, because even though i'm not cheap stadium prices are fucking staggering. and now i'm old and crabby enough to notice that the buzz from expensive-ass, lukewarm beers (or worse, expensive-ass, flat mixed drinks) < the blissed-out euphoria of an expensive cab ride home so you don't have to deal with rude drunks that you can actually afford since you didn't waste any money on expensive-ass, watered-down drinks. also i don't want to miss anything, and listening to the show over shitty speakers while shifting awkwardly from foot to foot in the pee line is the absolute worst.

i can faintly remember a time when everything wasn't so goddamn irritating. i was young once. i didn't always require 27 advil with a vicodin chaser to get through social events. one time in 2001 i went to a de la soul show that started at 11pm! I USED TO BE COOL. it used to not make me want to dig my eyeballs out of their sockets to be pressed butts to nuts with other drunk, sweaty concertgoers. nowadays if there isn't a waitress and a comfortable chair i'm not fucking going. mya and i saw bilal a few months ago and there was grown up stuff like table service and unnecessarily complicated flatbreads and a wine list and my swollen left ankle and i were like YES GAWD. we chased handfuls of aleve with expensive pinot grigio before blocking the exit row with our bulky walkers. living the fucking dream, man. you couldn't pay me to go to pitchfork. stand around glistening in the unobstructed heat watching bands i'm too old to have heard of? nope. i can't go to things that aren't temperature-controlled and accompanied by a sturdy chair anymore. remember when you reached that age in childhood when your mom was content to watch you on the swings from a shady bench on which she sat filing her nails while you "used your imagination" instead of wrinkling her high-waisted jc penney jeans chasing you up the slide and shit? THAT'S WHERE I'M AT, BRUH.

i want dave chappelle's rider next time i do a goddamn show. how fucking famous do you have to be to ensure that no one in the building has even the slimmest chance of taking a blurry iphone shot of your spotlighted cellulite and jowls!? that dude is not playing. some monster tweeted me a horrendous photograph of myself doing a reading in your grandmother's cardigan that she obviously snatched off google and i spent the entire afternoon rethinking every single one of my life choices. WHY DO YOU HATE ME, LISTENING AUDIENCE. jesus, it was one of those pictures that reminds you of every single calorie you ate the year you decided ice cream > therapy. fuckkkkkkk. anyway, if dave comes to your town you need to drag your old ass out to see him. i haven't laughed so hard since the first time i saw black bush (mars! red rocks!) or maybe at that one bit about how white people will never tell you who they're voting for. but keep your blood pressure meds handy, you old fuck. because despite the many posted signs, PA announcements, and warnings from various ushers and security-type personnel, some asshole is going to think that HE is the special snowflake who can check in on facebook so all his friends know how cool he is and then a security guard is going to roughly escort that crying young man out of the auditorium and eject him from the premises. and yes, grandma, you will laugh smugly to yourself for being such a law-abiding goody goody whose phone sits silently in airplane mode inside the purse at her feet, but yours will be a hollow victory as you watch 19 year old after 19 year old attempt to send one last snapchat as off-duty cops chug painfully up and down the stairs plucking them out of the crowd and tossing them into the street. without a refund.

at first the shit was hilarious. but after the fourth or fifth one i just started benjamin buttoning the fuck out: my skin melting like a candle as stiff porcupine needles sprouted from my craggy old chin. i started daydreaming about slipping out of my shoes and unhooking my bra, scrubbing my makeup off and liberally applying unscented aspercreme to every joint on my body before crawling into those creamy fresh hotel sheets in my scratched-up night glasses and my CPAP mask to read a few chapters of that nonfiction bestseller that NPR suggested people read so they can sound smart at parties before the opening comic had even come on stage. i longingly wondered what i was missing on the good wife. by the time dave ambled out i remembered that i'd left a box of fresh donuts in our room and i nudged k in the ribs and was like, "if we leave before he finishes are you cool? i'll pay for the uber." she tapped her arthritic rain-sensing knee and nodded, stifling a yawn. old ass bitches.

we were back at the hotel by 1045 from a show that started at 10 and i regret nothing. not glaring at the dude juggling six real beers who broke my second toe as he stepped on it trying to get back to his seat (I AM NOT AN ASSHOLE, I FUCKING STOOD UP);  not laughing on the inside as a girl had her fancy phone snatched by security like a kid with some forbidden candy; not even missing the last ten minutes of dave's set so that we could get the bathroom and elevator to ourselves and get first dibs on a cab. i am thirty-five and i now officially know my fucking limit. my feet need to be elevated by the time the evening news comes on, and i am not ashamed. i'm taking myself out of the game before it gets embarrassing. you kids enjoy your standing room only shows and your late night comedy. you know he's going to put out a dvd of the shit anyway; it'll be like we never left. and besides, like i said, we fucking had donuts.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

i'm taking my dead dad on vacation.

this is my dad. well not really, because my dad was this little chubby guy with a weird sense of humor who smelled like murray's pomade and wore paisley polyester shirts with exaggerated collars. this is a box containing his incinerated cremains, and they have sat in a bag in my closet for the last six years while i have avoided the subject of figuring out what the fuck to do with them. it took eleven years after he died for me to even summon the courage to pick them up from the funeral home, and even then i made my sister do it because i was too chickenshit. i was 18 when he died and 29 when my sister came to my job carrying a blue shopping bag with this dusty fake wood box in it and the first thing i thought after peeking inside was, "BITCH HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TAKE THIS HOME ON THE MOTHERFUCKING TRAIN." she couldn't just swing by the crib? i gotta drag this heavy box of dust around yawning brooks brothers suits and teenagers twerking for change on the red line!?

when i die i want to be cremated and sprinkled on the breakfasts of my enemies. or whatever works for whoever is around. last thing i ever want to do is stress my homies out from the grave. i don't know whether or not SB had a death plan, but if he did he didn't tell that shit to me. the last time i spoke to him i was in my dorm room at northern illinois and he had just suffered a brain-frying stroke and was describing to me these hallucinations he was having that he truly believed were real. i'm not even sure he knew who he was talking to as he described riding a bicycle through the morgue to check on the dead bodies. LOLWUT. his funeral was heavily attended by evanston's finest assortment of drunks and degenerates, his closest friends, which means there were actual men in salvation army suits circa 1973 smoking kools and tipping out brown-bagged fifths of cheap vodka in remembrance of their fallen comrade onto the street in front of the funeral home minutes before his homegoing service. it was kind of exciting.

our family tree is so goddamn sparse that if you shake it you'd probably start a fire. my dad is from mississippi but spent his formative years in memphis where he fathered two sons before promptly abandoning them to move to chicago and eventually meet my mother, who already had three young girl children of her own. they were black people married for eleven years before finally deciding to do it the white way, and they celebrated by deciding to create a new human life using a dusty old egg and a doggy paddling fifty year old sperm. in case you can't really put together what that means today let me lay it out for you like this: ALL OF MY SIBLINGS ARE NEARING SIXTY AND EVERYONE ELSE IS DEAD. my sisters are going through motherfucking menopause. think about that next time yours is bugging you for twenty bucks or your netflix password or whatever.

i haven't seen or spoken to either of my brothers since they attended my mom's funeral in june of 1998. that's part of the reason i've never done anything with our old man, because it's just my luck that the minute i decide to dump this asshole in a barbecue grill or sprinkle him outside the shady men's hotel he lived in for a while one of them will turn up and be upset that i hadn't included him in the decision. my sisters don't give a shit; he was the kind of jerk stepfather who yelled a lot about nothing and nailed the windows shut after they'd snuck out of them at night to go meet their boyfriends. hell, he punched me in the face when i was in high school over a frying pan. he wasn't always the nicest person. carmen has our mother because she's the oldest and super responsible and she knew her the longest so cool. i ended up with SB on a technicality. the thought of transferring them to a nice container grosses me out, plus i ain't got no fireplace. where is he supposed to go? should i, like, display him? NOT DOING THAT. but isn't it wild disrespectful to just, um, throw him away? is there no discreet disposal service i could use? WHY DID THEY MAKE ME HIS GUARDIAN I HATE BEING IN CHARGE OF THINGS. i've had a million opportunities to do something with him, but if andre or cedric wanted to take part in getting covered in microscopic bits of our dead father as an inevitable breeze blows him back in our stupid faces who am i to deny them that experience?

THE PROBLEM THO: i can't fucking find them. these are not men who "facebook." once every couple of years i do some google sleuthing and call the first handful of phone numbers i come across, but so far they have all been dead ends. i have a couple addresses? but who the fuck knows if they live there anymore. the last time i was in memphis i was 15 and spent the entire time taking pictures of women in blue eyeshadow sobbing at graceland. i'm not sentimental; i don't save birthday cards or baby pictures or newspaper clippings, i have no real traditions, i throw everything away the minute it stops being shiny and new. this dusty box that's full of my dad's ground up bones and brain has been sitting in my coat closet between the cat carrier and a bag of hats + mittens for seven years and i am not moving it to another apartment ever again. it's time for this dude to get free, ie stop creeping me the fuck out every time i need a goddamn jacket.

so today mavis and i are renting a car and driving to tennessee where i am going to engage in two potentially dangerous things: 1 trying nashville hot chicken for the first time and 2 knocking on the doors of some unsuspecting strangers who probably wear gun holsters to ask if the residents within know either of my brothers. it'll be just like that book "are you my mommy?" with fewer teeth and more n-words. basically what i'm trying to say is that i'm probably about to get murdered. helen is enjoying a spa week at the kennel, i cleaned the stove and mopped the kitchen because that seems like a smart thing to do before leaving town, i made the craziest playlist ever in the hopes of staying awake on the road, yet i still have not: packed my clothes, gathered all of my medications, decided whether or not to take a full bottle of good shampoo or travel size bottles of a mediocre one, purchased road snacks, or PICKED A PLACE TO DUMP THESE STUPID ASHES. some ideas:

1 liquor store. we had those 12 step books all over our goddamned house. i'm not sure why, because even though he drained the family savings on three separate attempts at inpatient rehab, that dude just loved to drink. E&J, grain alcohol, nyquil: you name it, he drank it. most of the people in his professional life had no idea; he saved the shoe polish drinking for those of us he loved the absolute most. try as he might he could not shake that demon. i am a tenderheart when it comes to addiction. life is fucking terrible, and if you reach for a bottle of pinot gris or a cheeseburger when you feel bad i get it. shit, i am it. i don't judge, because you can look at my body and see just how awful times in my life have been. look, i'm happy for those of you who have no emotional attachment to food or booze or pills but fuck you if you can't cut the rest of us a fucking break. drink your water and eat your carrots and have some goddamn empathy.

2 someplace that sells lottery tickets. every christmas i would get a fistful of scratch off tickets. my dad would play $50-60 a day: 3-digit, 4-digit, dollar straight, dollar box. does anyone under the age of thirty know what the fuck those words even mean? he used to hang out at this place called ramy's and every fucking day would exchange thick wads of cash for a handful of flimsy tickets. and that motherfucker couldn't catch a cold. he never won shit. yet every day he dutifully played his numbers, a grown man whose wife had put him out and was so broke that he was living in a rooming house with a communal fucking bathroom at 60+ years old still found fifty bucks a day to spend on his birthday, my birthday, his anniversary, our old address, the last four digits of his first phone number, and so on.

3 a restaurant with pig feet on the menu. my dad ate, like, six things. TOTAL. kidney beans, potted meat, hot water cornbread, pigs feet, fried chicken wings, and black walnut ice cream. i lived with him my junior year of high school and i am not kidding, he never deviated from that super-nutritious diet. i would go to the store with him and gaze wistfully at all of the fresh vegetables and cheese while he loaded up our cart with vienna sausages and cornmeal, longing for the day he would let me at least smell the warm bread in the bakery. "but you live in the north now!" i would plead, shaking a box of tuna helper under his disapproving nose. "we like pizza here!" occasionally he would go to KFC and i could get some goddamn cole slaw and corn, but if i ate a vegetable in 1996 that motherfucker came from 1 school or 2 your mom's house.

4 at a dice game. once my father hit a dude in the head with a hammer on our front porch because, as legend has it, that gentleman tried to cheat the old man during a vicious game of click clack. A REAL HAMMER. can you believe that old country ass shit? how much could a bunch of broke motherfuckers possibly bet on craps that justifies a goddamn brain injury?! (ps, my dad was the best.) SB was also incredibly proficient at bid whist, a partnership trick-taking game that is very popular among african-americans. i told you this dude loved gambling more than he loved his children and/or pets, and one time he let me sit in on a spades hand and we got set because i overbid and he for real would not feed me dinner that night. I WAS NINE, FAM. he was for real, like, "goodnight, samantha" at four in the afternoon. i have little joker nightmares to this very day.

5 outside of al green's church. SB was not religious, but come on. how cool would that be!? i know the words to "my god is real!" that whole "livin' for you" album is a jam. that's how it works, right? instead of preaching he just sings a medley of his greatest god-related hits? my body is ready.

so i'ma try not to fall asleep on the road and order hella room service in this swanky hotel for a week and listen to some country music and work on my book which is due in two months holy fucking shit and maybe reunite with my brothers and watch that show nashville on hulu to be ironical and instagram some obnoxious meals and see dave chappelle at the ryman and probably drop SB in a river or something. and pour a little out for my homie.