Wednesday, September 14, 2011

to catch a predator.

i have an embarrassing confession to make. i am 31 years old, i've had my own place (in some form or another, when i was 19 i temporarily lived in my car) for thirteen years, i have a full-time job, yet for at least two or three months out of the year people pay me to stay in their really nice houses while they are away on vacation. every single time someone who's just met me asks, "bitch, what are you doing this weekend?" and i respond, "HOUSESITTING," that response is met with a blank, open-mouthed stare. then that stare usually turns incredulous. "i thought you had an apartment? aren't you a little OLD to be doing that?"

YES. yes, i am too goddamned old to be packing a bottle of conditioner and a handful of underwear into my big all-purpose black bag-purse and hauling it on the train to stay in some other adult's home. i'm too old to leave three bowls of water and a ripped-open bag of diet cat food on the floor for helen keller while abandoning her to spend two weeks walking a dog that doesn't belong to me. i'm too old to spend three hours trying to figure out the six remotes that operate fancy networks of televisions, cable boxes, tivos, and dvd players; too old to try to figure out where rich people hide their toilet paper and extra kleenex; too old to remember garbage day and recycling day and cleaning lady day; too old to deal with these gangster ass suburban possums and skunks that just don't give a FUCK about rolling up on the porch to fuck with the family dog; too old to be sleeping on pull-out couches in the den or in the lumpy bed of the son that's away at grinnell.

but bitches will pay seventy-five bucks a night for me to water their plants and sign for their UPS packages and watch movies on showtime with their dogs, and I'M NOT TOO OLD FOR THAT. the first time i did it i was living in a tiny apartment with two roommates who never went the fuck to sleep EVER, so when my old boss was like, "want to stay in my house while i'm in mexico for two weeks?" i was wearing her robe and testing the water in the jacuzzi bathtub before she could even finish asking me. i was raised by wolves, remember, and i could not believe that people had so much money just lying around that they would pay me more than i was making in a week to just lie around their palatial homes, eat food i'd never heard of, and make sure the dog didn't starve or die. back then my broke ass was eating packets of lipton soup mix and day-old (read: HALF PRICE) bakery goods every day because my third of the rent and utilities plus gas money was bleeding me dry (seriously, i'm surprised i didn't get scurvy because fresh fruits and vegetables were not in the goddamned budget), so the prospect of living someplace air-conditioned with fresh fucking cheese was AMAZING to me.

since i had my own little shithole to smoke crack and bang hookers in, i had no desire to ruin any of my vacation homes, and word got around that there was an awesome house-stayer-inner on the scene who wouldn't have her friends vomiting in your flower pots and shit. and the requests just started pouring in. in 2003 i shouldn't even have had my own place; i was always staying up in kenilworth, sleeping on some pratesi sheets and bathing in la mer and shit. listen, everything i know about fancy neck cream i learned from staying in some rich woman's house. my mother's beauty secret was rubbing alcohol and vaseline.

last weekend i was housesitting for tom, whom i've been sitting for for eight or nine years. which is a really long time to have a relationship with someone that consists primarily of text messages that read, "september 5-19, are you around?" i've seen tom less than ten times in nine years, which is hilariously awesome. i know his medicine cabinet better than i know him, and that's the beauty of this whole thing. i feel like such a creep, letting myself into someone's empty house and drinking all of his good beer while feeding the dog scraps from his fridge, but that's the way this works. i wish i could do this shit as my real job. it's like being the personal assistant to an inanimate object, and your only boss is a typed sheet of instructions left on the counter next to a set of emergency keys. sometimes your boss is just a post-it and a blank check for the maid. now glance into the office of the prematurely balding sexual harrasser who signs your paychecks and tell me you wouldn't trade him for a list of neighbor numbers and emergency plumbers.

pictured above is tom's yard. and tom's dog sammie, who is sweet and old and wondering why i'm trampling this dude's hydrangeas to take her picture when i could be inside boiling a ham bone for her. sammie's the best because she's low-maintenance and doesn't give a shit about other dogs, which is handy when walking around a neighborhood where no matter what time of night i'm out in my pajamas WAITING FOR THIS DOG TO SHIT, someone else is out there, too, wondering why i didn't put a goddamned bra on. that, by the way, is the reason i don't have a dog of my own, because i refuse to spend my life at the mercy of another creatures bowel movements. like my own aren't enough? people with dogs plan their entire lives around that dog's shit schedule, and i'm not having any part of that.

so some white people are still afraid of black people, gasp. even in obama's post racial utopian america! and last week i was out early one morning with the dog, wearing the least threatening flamingo-print pajama bottoms in the history of plus-sized casual wear, doing the crossword while waiting for sam to poop, and this pale, rickety blonde woman comes out of her house and asks, with a TONE, "excuse me, do you live in this neighborhood?" i may be a little out of touch with the current state of race relations, but is "driving to a white neighborhood to let my dog shit on some cracker's lawn" a new thing my brothers and sisters are doing? has the NAACP sanctioned walk-by poopings?! i obviously haven't been watching enough BET. "i've never seen you before, and i don't want that dog on my grass."

"why, because i'm a lesbian?" i figured why not tap into all of this bitch's latent fears at once? LET'S MAKE THIS SHIT FUN. she immediately retreated back into the house and slammed the door, while i solved a five-letter word for "backbone."

even though we hadn't been on that bitch's grass i dragged sam a few yards east and willed her butthole to loosen up so i could take my nipples back in the goddamned house. FINALLY it came out, like carrot-flecked manna from heaven, and while i was crouching to pick all of it up a shadow appeared over me, and i froze. my first thought was that this bitch had called the police and i'm out here with a handful of dog shit and no keys or identification and i was going to go to a well-appointed suburban jail in FLAMINGO-PRINTED HOUSE PANTS when all i wanted to do was let this old dog do her business before i had to leave for work. i stood up and was confronted by a decent-looking young black dude, not in uniform.
"did you drive your dog over here to take a dump, too?" i asked him.

"leave her alone!" he shouted toward the house, and i caught a flash of curtains closing in my peripheral. "i saw what happened, that old lady is such a bitch. always giving us a hard time. just ignore her," he said to me, before introducing himself. i don't brush my teeth to walk the dog, i don't hike my tits up to walk the dog, i don't wear my glasses to walk the dog, and OF COURSE when i'm out in the street looking like the maid on tom and jerry some hot and sweaty basketball-carrying gigantosaurus rex has to come up and marvel that i do the crossword in pen? WHY IS THIS MY LIFE?! all i could think was, "my mouth tastes like old soup someone spilled on a goodwill sweater." seriously.

"i've never seen you before, do you live around here?" SIGH. dudes never get the message that you'd rather not be talking to them while standing around in your inside bra, and this one just kept asking about my tattoos and the dog and where do i live and i seem really cool while i just stood there paralyzed, mortified to be having a conversation with an attractive human being while outdoors with dusty slave bedhead. AND HOLDING A BAG OF SHIT. and even though the thought of letting someone new get a look at my vertical smile is revolting to me right now, it is ingrained in deep in my ladybrain that when a killer dude is talking to you you at least hear him out for a few minutes. so i listened, and tried not to breathe in his direction.

after a few more minutes sammie was like, "come on asshole, FEED THE DOG is number two on your goddamned list," and i thanked hot and sweaty for running interference between me and old mother hubbard earlier and politely excused myself to go wash the smell of bed and dog breakfast off me. "we should hang out sometime," he called after me. "maybe i can find you at school? what period do you have lunch?"
while i should have been flattered that someone in the tenth grade might mistake me for a person who could occupy the desk opposite his in study hall, all i could think was "bitches in high school have this much errant eyebrow hair?!" this was obviously a young man in the slow class, because i'm pretty sure the last thing anyone who has met my surly, misanthropic ass in real life thinks is "HONORS ALGEBRA." even when i was in high school no one thought i belonged there, scowling and frothing at the mouth as i always was. also, it isn't really much of a compliment when a goddamned KID wants to hang out with you because he thinks you're impressive and cool. kids are impressed by snooki. game, set, match.

but i couldn't say "i'm too old for you." even though i felt like an asshole, i just couldn't bring myself to utter the words "I AM EASILY TWICE YOUR AGE." i tried, i really did. even sam was throwing shade and trying to bark "this bitch is thirty-one!" behind my back. i had let a dude too young for chest hair waste twenty minutes of my life, yet i couldn't say, "i bet your mother and i were classmates."

so instead i said, "i go to a different school." dumb. "a private school." DUMBER. and when he asked where i couldn't think of the name of a single private goddamned school in the metro chicagoland area, so then i just stood there like an asshole before admitting my age. i wasn't trying to bang this dude, i'm just having trouble coming to terms with all of this fucking gray hair. hair that was VISIBLE TO THIS LITTLE DUDE, i might add.

and instead of thinking i was still "fly and shit," this dickbag was like, "HOW old? you still walk DOGS for a living?! damn, my MOM is only twenty-nine!"

"your mother is a whore," i replied under my breath, then i yanked on sam's leash and dragged her past the wicked witch's gingerbread house. she was in the side yard, pretending not to watch me coaxing the dog along with promises of a porterhouse if she hurried the fuck up and spared me just a fucking OUNCE of blistering shame.

"that boy is a CHILD," she hissed at me over the fence. i seriously considered chucking the bag of shit I WAS STILL HOLDING at her. i tried to think of something to say that wouldn't land my ass in jail or on dateline. just picturing being tackled by child services in those motherfucking FLAMINGO PAJAMAS was making my chest constrict with anxiety. i don't have the kind of disposition that would lend well to my survival while incarcerated.

"for your information, we're in the same social studies class," i snapped, and then i ran down the street to tom's house so i could jump in the goddamned shower. i didn't want to get a detention for being late to homeroom.

flamingos, helen keller, and the bed linens even your two-year-old would consider garish. SIGH.